Having visited the Mann-Simons Site, the final stop on our tour of four historic homes was the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.
Growing up in the UK, I didn’t learn much about US history at school. These historic home tours were therefore a great way to expand my knowledge.
Woodrow Wilson was the last President born before the Civil War and was President during World War I. He was therefore involved in politics at important moments in US history.
There are apparently four different homes associated with Woodrow Wilson that you can visit nowadays. There’s his birthplace in Staunton VA, his boyhood home in Augusta GA, this family home in Columbia SC and his house in Washington D.C. where he lived after leaving office.
His family home was built in 1871 for $7,000 and the young future President lived there until 1874. His family weren’t particularly rich, but they’d inherited some money which is how they could afford to build the property.
We entered the house through the front door and so were immediately in the entrance hall.
There was a walnut hall tree at the entrance; it’s believed to be from the 1860s and was owned by the Wilson family. A hall tree was used in some 19th century homes to hang coats, hats and other clothing.
Our tour guide Cyndy then showed us into the first room downstairs. This contained information boards, artifacts and an interactive screen with more information.
This house had coal fireplaces downstairs and wood fireplaces upstairs. Some of the fireplace tiles are original, but some were repaired and replaced when the home was renovated. The new tiles were produced by the original tile manufacturer, so there’s no distinguishable difference.
The second room we visited was originally used as an office. It now contains several pieces of furniture from the 1800s, including the Wilson family pew from First Presbyterian Church.
The room also contained a 19th century calling card and a quilt which was given to the family when they moved from Augusta GA to Columbia SC.
Cyndy then showed us where the kitchen would’ve been located at the back of the house, although it’s no longer there and a wheelchair ramp has been installed. The next room we therefore visited was the pantry which had large wooden cabinets on both sides of the room.
Next up was what was once a dining room and now contains some artifacts such as 1800s clothing.
The room that was once a family parlor was next. One of the main features of this room was a video exhibit that gave some additional background about Woodrow Wilson’s family.
The wall also had a reproduction flag containing 37 stars. That’s because there were only 37 states in the Union during the Reconstruction Era, the time period when a young Woodrow Wilson lived in this house.
That was the last of the downstairs rooms, so we then made our way to the second floor which consisted of all bedrooms, all of which were notably large.
The first of the bedrooms was Woodrow Wilson’s childhood bedroom. His full name was Thomas Woodrow Wilson, hence the reference to Tommy on the information board. The room contained a trunk containing replica clothes he’d have worn back in the day.
The next bedroom had a focus on politics from the period that Wilson lived in this family home. One of the exhibits was a hand-painted banner from 1872 promoting Franklin Moses for governor and his running mate Richard Howell Gleaves.
The room also contained a speaking horn which was presented to William Byrd Stanley who’d go on to become mayor of Columbia.
Shae and I then got to try out some 19th century stereoscopes in the next room. These were cards with left-eye and right-eye views of the same image; while looking through the lenses, you move it closer to you until you get a somewhat 3D view of the image.
There was also an 1870s bench that came from a school that was set up to educate freed slaves.
One of the bedrooms contained artifacts from the late 1800s relating to the Red Shirts, a white supremacist group.
The shirt in that cabinet was a reproduction shirt, but there was also a drawer containing an original Red Shirt thought to be from 1875.
The final bedroom contained Woodrow Wilson’s birth bed.
There was also a display cabinet containing a carpet bag. This was a travel bag of the era and is apparently where the term Carpetbagger comes from.
The final part of the tour took us out to the back porch where there was a (locked) door which was the location of one of their bathrooms.
The home had two indoor bathrooms, one on the upstairs porch and one on the downstairs porch. Back then, families had concerns about hygiene which is why the bathrooms weren’t located inside the house.
I enjoyed our tour of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home as it was full of interesting historical information. I hadn’t known anything about Woodrow Wilson prior to the tour (other than the fact that he was once President), so I’m now interested in learning more about him and his Presidential term.
Other Historic Homes In Columbia SC
Check out our reviews of all four of the Historic Columbia House Tours: