AAA Editor Notes
Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens is at 1615 Blanding St.; tours depart from Robert Mills House and Gardens at 1616 Blanding St. The home was built in 1818 for wealthy merchant Ainsley Hall and purchased by Gen. Wade Hampton I in 1823. Upon Hampton's 1835 death his daughter and son-in-law, John Preston, took the house and doubled its size with an 1850 addition.
Over the years the house, now restored, served as Union Army Headquarters, two separate women's colleges and a convent. An exhibit in the raised basement explores urban slavery and the property's many uses.
The eight rooms open to tours reflect several styles from the Federal to postbellum periods. The guided tour includes the entire main floor—two hallways, three parlors, and dining room—and two third-floor bedrooms, one of which is set up as a 1920s dorm room from when Chicora College occupied the house. The furnishings include family silver and portraits (including some of their Thoroughbreds) and furniture made in South Carolina as well as English crystal and dinnerware from Wade Hampton II's nearby Millwood Plantation.
The grounds include the Fountain Garden, the formal Welcome Garden with plantings of clipped boxwood hedges and heirloom roses designed in the English style, and the Children's Garden designed to a child's scale.
Tickets are issued at Robert Mills House and Gardens.
Guided tours are available. Time: Allow 45 minutes minimum.