Explore the Mann-Simons Cottage

By:Amy Holtcamp

Date:3/8/2011

There is no shortage of beautiful mansions to visit in South Carolina. Colu​mbia alone has the magnificent Hampton-Preston mansion and the impressive Robert Mills House, both built by wealthy 19th century South Carolinians.

At first glance the Mann-Simons Cottage isn’t as extravagant as Columbia’s other historic houses, but the structure sheds a captivating light on the lives of the state’s less affluent citizens, particularly that of Celia Mann, a free woman of color who lived on the property at a time when many of her fellow African-Americans were still enslaved.

The modest Mann-Simons Cottage is thought to have started as a one-room building built in 1825 or 1830. Celia Mann was born in Charleston in 1799, and local legend says that she traveled to Columbia on foot. By 1844 she was living in the cottage and making her living as a midwife.

When she passed away, Mann’s daughters inherited the property. Over the years, the cottage morphed to meet the demands of its changing residents. In 1970 Bernice Robinson Connors had inherited it and sold it to the Columbia Housing Authority (Connors’ aunt and uncle, Charles and Amanda Green Simons also lend their name to the building.)

A very special program occurs on the fourth Wednesday of each month. At 11 a.m. the Historic Columbia Foundation’s on-site archaeologist, Jakob Crockett, gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look during the foundation’s “Uncovering the Past” demonstrations. The program includes a visit to Crockett’s lab, where some of the 60,000 artifacts from the site’s excavations are on display. “Uncovering the Past” events cost $6.

To visit the Mann-Simons Cottage buy your tickets at the Robert Mills House at 1616 Blanding St. All of the Columbia historic homes are open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Tours are given on the top of the hour and tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for college students, military personnel and seniors, and $3 for youth ages 6-17. Kids 5 and younger are free.

Click he​re for more information.

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