On Sunday, October 16, Historic Columbia hosted a special reception, bringing families and supporters together, to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the garden rehabilitation at the Hampton-Preston Mansion. This occasion marked an important milestone— the ribbon cutting of a new gazebo, which is the main focal point of the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden.
The Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden, nestled inside the gardens at the Hampton- Preston Mansion, is a special place for remembrance, reflection and play.
In 2006, friends of Historic Columbia, Kelly and Keith Powell, lost their first and newly born child, Henry Michael Powell. Their tremendous loss inspired them to create a place of joy to help them remember the happiness their son brought them during his brief life. They rallied support from family and friends to start a fund in Henry’s memory to bring this vision into fruition.
In 2010, Historic Columbia launched plans for the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Children’s Garden at the Hampton-Preston Mansion. From the outset, the Powells expressed their desire to establish a creative space—one dedicated to education, exploration, and play, but also a place that allowed for quiet reflection.
They wanted Henry’s siblings to have a place to visit that was established as a celebration of their brother’s life and to see first-hand how his life had inspired the creation of a place to be filled with laughter and learning.
In the spring of 2011, the multi-phased Hampton- Preston Mansion garden rehabilitation project kicked off. The gardens quickly underwent a major transformation, which included the design and planting of the beds and pathways, as well as the installation of all garden infrastructure.
The next step was the planting of the Welcome Garden (made possible with the ongoing support of Palmetto Garden Club), the replication of the Hiram Powers Fountain (thanks to the support of long-term donor, Frank S. Cox) and the rehabilitation of the Historic Gate & Wall surrounding the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens (a gift from The Darnall and Susan Boyd Foundation).
The Powells began to see their vision take shape and regularly visited the gardens with their daughters, Annalise and Isabel.
In the spring of 2015, the brickwork, stone benches and water pump were installed, which officially created the Henry Michael Powell Memorial Garden centrally located in the Children’s Garden. In the fall of 2015, Keith’s parents, Joe and Patricia Powell, generously agreed to fund the design, creation and installation of the gazebo, which now stands as the focal point of the Henry Michael Powell Memorial and Garden.
In early August 2016, the Powell family’s vision came to life as Chris Stuyck of Stuyck Company installed the gazebo, a true work of art. The structure’s features mimic the arches and curves of the nearby live oak trees, and the layered leaf-edged roof panels seamlessly blend with the established tree canopy.
The transformation of the gardens at the Hampton Preston Mansion were made possible by the generosity of the Powell family, as well as additional valued Historic Columbia donors. Historic Columbia invites you to visit the gardens to experience their beauty and honor the life of Henry Michael Powell.
The gardens at the Hampton-Preston Mansion are maintained by Historic Columbia. In total, Historic Columbia’s properties include more than 14 acres of landscapes, featuring gardens that range from an expansive park-like setting with an elaborate formal garden to a traditional 19thcentury swept yard.
Historic Columbia’s gardens are historically informed and make up the largest public green space in Columbia. The gardens are a free and open to the public.
Visit historiccolumbia.org to learn more.