City Directories and History: Built in 1872, in the then popular “Cottage Style” and bearing the theme of a modified Tuscan villa of unquestionable Andrew Jackson Downing inspiration, the Thomas Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home is one of the best examples of Italianate “Cottage Architecture” in South Carolina. Remaining
virtually as built, the home where Woodrow Wilson spent part of his boyhood today provides a glimpse into the world of the 1870s which influenced the boy who became the twenty-eighth President of the United States. The home was built by the Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, professor at the Columbia Theological Seminary from 1870 to 1874, minister of the First Presbyterian Church from 1871 to 1873 and father of Thomas Woodrow Wilson. The family occupied the house until 1875 when the Wilson’s moved from South Carolina. Restored by Historic Columbia Foundation, the house contains gaslights of the period, 1870s oak graining, and original iron mantels painted to resemble marble. The lawn, which is surrounded by a picket fence, contains tea olives, magnolias and dogwoods planted by the Wilson’s. Listed in the National Register February 23, 1972. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
The First Presbyterian Church, constructed ca. 1854, is a fine example of early English Gothic architecture, characterized by a vaulted ribbed ceiling. Its 188-foot spire is one of Columbia’s most distinctive architectural features. Its congregation was the first organized in Columbia (1795). According to tradition, the Presbyterian congregation drew lots with the Episcopal congregation, and won its present lot, which included the heretofore public non-denominational Columbia graveyard, dating from 1797.
Buried here are Henry W. DeSaussure, first director of the U.S. Mint, Ann Pamela Cuningham, restorer of Mt. Vernon and President Woodrow Wilson’s parents. Past congregational members include Colonel Thomas Taylor (upon whose plantation part of Columbia was built), scientist Dr. Joseph LeConte, architect Robert Mills and President Woodrow Wilson. The English Gothic structure is of reddish-brown stucco-covered brick. It features a central pinnacled steeple, an entrance flanked by pseudo-Corinthian columns, shouldered buttresses, stained glass windows, and pinnacles on the corners and along the battlemented roof. It is the second church built on this site. The church building was extensively remodeled in 1925. Listed in the National Register January 25, 1971. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
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