A house in Columbia that was once home to a teen-aged future President Woodrow Wilson will finally reopen next February after being closed nearly nine years for repairs.
The Historic Columbia Foundation announced Monday it hopes to open the building for tours again after Feb. 15, when $3.6 million in renovations will be complete. A gala and other events are planned for the reopening on Presidents Day weekend.
The home, located in a neighborhood close to the city’s downtown, was home for the Wilson family in the 1870s. The future president lived in the house from 1870 until he left for college three years later. Wilson’s father was a Presbyterian minister who taught at the nearby Columbia Theological Seminary.
Historic Columbia spokeswoman Carrie Phillips said Richland County acquired the property in 1932, but the building had already been renovated several times and did not look like it had during the 1870s.
“We wanted to rehabilitate the house back to how it would have been when construction was finished,” Phillips told South Carolina Radio Network. “The house passed through a number of private owners between the Wilsons selling it in 1876 and it being saved and opened as a historic house museum in 1933.”
The house was open for more than 70 years, but had been closed to the public since 2005 due to structural problems with its foundation. It took several years to get the money to renovate, according to Historic Columbia Executive Director Robin Waites.
“This has been a labor of love,” Waites said in a press conference announcing the new opening date. “The Woodrow Wilson Family Home is one of our state’s greatest historic treasures. Twice now this house has been brought back from the brink, and it stands as a testament to the power of preservation, a monument to our 28th president and a gateway to explore the contested time period in which it was built: Reconstruction.”
Preservationists also plan to open a new museum inside the house that will focus on the Reconstruction era in Columbia. The turbulent post-Civil War period lasted from the end of the war in 1865 to the removal of the last remaining federal troops in 1876.
Phillips said the house has been renovated through $3.6 million in grants from Richland County, historic groups and private donors.
Wilson was born in Virginia, but his parents soon moved to Augusta, Ga. They moved to the new house in Columbia when the future president was 14.