City Directories and History: The Hampton-Preston House (Ainsley Hall House), is a handsome city mansion that was built in 1818 by Ainsley Hall, a Columbia merchant. Robert Yates was the contractor and Zachariah Philips served in the capacity of architect. Hall sold the house to the first Wade Hampton, fighter in the American Revolution and general in the War of 1812, planter, businessman, developer of the American West. His son, Wade Hampton II, lived in the house as did Wade Hampton III, the Civil War general, and state governor. The house is also associated with leading South Carolinian and state senator, John S. Preston. The South Carolina Presbyterian Institute for Young Ladies, later Chicora College, acquired the mansion in 1890. The house is of a post-Colonial, Classical Revival style, having a broad veranda across the front with Doric columns and a fanlight above. Inside is a sweeping circular stairway with mahogany rails. A crystal chandelier hangs in the middle of the hall. The rooms are spacious, and one is adorned with a white marble mantel by the sculptor Hiram Powers. The gardens covered a city block and were known throughout the state, but have been plowed under and felled, later becoming a parking lot. Listed in the National Register July 29, 1969. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
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