2011-09-23 / Society

Historic Columbia Foundation holds open house at the Dial-Willis-Heyward-House

By Anita Baker

1329 Blanding Street 1329 Blanding Street On Thursday, September 15, 2011 the Historic Columbia Foundation, Catawba Properties, LLC, and Whetstone, Myers, Perkins and Fulda LLC held an open house and reception at the historic Dial-Willis-Heyward house located at 1329 Blanding Street in downtown Columbia. Originally the site of the Blanding House, which was destroyed during the Civil War, the Dial-Willis-Heyward house was the home of the Dial-Willis-Heyward family from 1886 to 1987 when the home was converted to an office building by family member Walter (Sonny) Sims of Columbia.

Sims’s great- grandmother, Arianna India Livingston Dial Willis, (her age is not discussed in the family) was the first to own the house. Her first husband, businessman George Louis Dial, was co- owner of Tozer Engine Works which produced steam engines. Dial had the house erected on the site of the Blanding House in 1886, the year of the Charleston earthquake. He soon died, however, and his widow, Arianna India Livingston Dial, moved into the house with her four sons. She later sold the company to, and subsequently married, John Algernon Willis (1855- 1916.) They had one child, Ethel Vernon Willis (1889- 1987) who married Dr. Nathaniel Barnwell Heyward ( 1886- 1952). Mrs. Heyward was born in the home on Blanding Street, lived there her entire life and until her death in 1987. She was Walter Sims’s grandmother.

Arianna India Willis Arianna India Willis Sims gave a presentation of the history of his family’s home to the group gathered this past Thursday evening. He shared that the construction of the home was affected by the earthquake that struck Charleston, S.C. that year. The tiles on the floor at the entranceway of the house were designed to fit sym- metrically into a colorful pattern in the floor. However, the tiles were “completely scrambled” by the earthquake and have never been fully repaired over the last 120 years.

Sims said the house was designed for gracious living and entertaining. The floor plan allows for a flow of people through the entertaining rooms, and a large wine cellar was built with the house. Currently, the house contains its original glass windows and gas chandeliers. It has a large front porch that wraps the house, allowing for its owners to spend much of the day on the porch visiting with passersby.

Sims identified the walnut and oak concentric pattern floor in one of the rooms used for entertaining. He also pointed out the original fireplace mantles in each of the front rooms and shared that the fireplace mantle in the room to the right of the front entranceway was purchased by John A. Willis at the Charleston Exposition of 1901, where the mantle won first prize.

In the years since Sims converted the Dial- Willis-Heyward House into office space, it has continued to be utilized as an architectural office and a law office, most recently by the Law Offices of Whetstone, Myers, Perkins and Fulda, LLC. However, the building is currently being offered for sale by Catawba Properties, LLC. The house is also currently available as a venue for wedding festivities, corporate meetings, and other special events.

The Dial-Willis-Heyward House is located in Columbia’s National Register Historic District II, is an individual landmark, and is listed on the National Register.

The Historic Columbia Foundation serves as an advocate for the preservation of Columbia’s built history. Historic Columbia Foundation works closely with city and county officials to ensure proper protection is provided to structures with cultural and historical importance. Regardless of the format, Historic Columbia Foundation’s efforts focus on improving the quality of life for residents of Columbia and Richland County and on ensuring that those who visit leave with a positive, lasting impression. For more information visit www.HistoricColumbia.org.

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