Capital City Tour

The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission suggests the following trip itinerary through the capital city of Columbia to enrich your vacation in South Carolina. Trips like this are outstanding, day-long excursions suitable for family reunions, fraternity / sorority get-togethers, meetings and other gatherings. A link to a route mapped out in is at the bottom of the page. For details about other day-trips, including best practices for trip planning, click here.

9:00 a.m. African American monument on State House grounds – Main and Gervais streets (GPS coordinates 34.000488, -81.032448)
This monument illustrates the story of African Americans in South Carolina from their arrival during the slave trade to the modern age. Among the 12 scenes carved into the monument are images of a family on the auction block, men and women celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation, and African American pioneers in science, arts, law, education, sports and politics. At the base are four rubbing stones from regions of Africa where slaves were captured – Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Congo and Ghana.
Time at site – 45 minutes
9:45 a.m. WALKING Main Street tour guided by – 803-851-5064 —
The State House and Main Street were settings for demonstrations and protests, including sit-ins and marches. This tour helps explain some of those defining moments in the Civil Rights movement.
Time – one hour
11:00 a.m. Harriet Cornwell Tourist House – 1713 Wayne Street
The Harriet M. Cornwell Tourist House in Columbia was listed in the National Register as part of the Multiple Property Submission “Segregation in Columbia.” From c. 1940 to c. 1960 during the era of segregation, the Harriet M. Cornwell Tourist Home served as a place where African Americans could find lodging and one meal a day. While no sign advertised the house as a tourist home for blacks, the house and its address were advertised nationally in publications titled, The Negro Travelers’ Green Book and the International Travelers’ Green Book.
Time at site – 30 minutes
11:45 a.m. LUNCH – Cafeteria style lunches served at United House of Prayer, 2426 Read Street, Columbia, SC 29204, 803-748-0555
1:15 p.m. Mann Simons Site – 1403 Richland Street, Columbia – 803-252-7742
The Mann-Simon Site takes guests on a journey through the challenges, adversity and perseverance of one African American family who lived on the property for nearly 130 years. The new exhibits, which debuted in the fall of 2016, explore the role race played in shaping the capital city – from antebellum Columbia, to the Civil War and Reconstruction, to the Jim Crow era and into the early civil rights years. Today, the site is operated as a house museum by Historic Columbia. Guests can visit on a guided tour Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The site is closed on major holidays. Tickets can be purchased at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills, located at 1616 Blanding St. Private guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more with advance registration.
Time at site – one hour
2:30 p.m. Modjeska Simkins House – 2025 Marion Street, Columbia – 803-252-7742
The Modjeska Monteith Simkins House, built between 1890 and 1895, is one-story Columbia Cottage and home to Modjeska Monteith Simkins, considered the matriarch of South Carolina’s Civil and Human Rights movement. Simkins was a founder of the S.C. Conference of the NAACP. As the secretary of the conference, Simkins hosted many meetings and planning sessions at her home forlocal and national civil rights leaders and NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall during the Brown v. Board of Education trial. Today, the site is operated as a house museum by Historic Columbia. The house is only available for private guided tours for groups of 10 or more with advance registration. To schedule a group tour, call (803) 252-1770 x 23 or email
Time at site – 30 minutes
3:45 p.m. Allen University Historic District, including Chappelle Auditorium – 1530 Harden Street, Columbia — (803) 376-5700
Allen University was founded in Cokesbury, S.C., in 1870 as Payne Institute by a number of AME ministers.  In 1880, it was moved to Columbia and renamed Allen University in honor of Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The school was established for the education of blacks in South Carolina. The campus is composed of five historic buildings: Arnett Hall, named for Rev. Benjamin W. Arnett, Coppin Hall, the Canteen, Chappelle Administration Building, named for William David Chappelle, a former president, and the Joseph Simon Flipper Library.
Time at site — 30 minutes
4:30 p.m. Visanka Starks House – 2214 Hampton Street, Columbia
This house, built after 1900, was originally a two-story frame residence with a projecting bay and wraparound porch. A fire in 1989 destroyed the second story. Barrett Visanska (1849-1932), a jeweler, bought the house in 1913. In 1938 Dr. John J. Starks, the first black president of Benedict College, bought the house and lived here from 1938 until his death. Starks was president of Seneca Institute 1899-1912, Morris College 1912-1930, and Benedict College 1930-1944. After World War II this house served as the nurses’ home for Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital, created by merger in 1939. It was later a private residence again.
Time at site – 30 minutes
MAPQUEST route itinerary –,-81.032448/to/us/sc/columbia/29201-2751/1713-wayne-st-34.006016,-81.044975/to/us/sc/columbia/29201-2519/1403-richland-st-34.011687,-81.034251/to/us/sc/columbia/29201-2113/2025-marion-st-34.013959,-81.035520/to/us/sc/columbia/29204-1057/1530-harden-st-34.010433,-81.021038/to/us/sc/columbia/29204-1814/2214-hampton-st-34.010569,-81.018354