Columbia Star

Historic Columbia Palladium Fall Tour—not your mother’s tour of homes


A mid-century modern kids’ table had the perfect spot in the kitchen. In the den, they had an antique wooden child’s desk.

A mid-century modern kids’ table had the perfect spot in the kitchen. In the den, they had an antique wooden child’s desk.

My mother and I love houses, so the fall home tour seemed like a perfect Sunday afternoon. I was expecting a traditional tour of homes. This was not that. Seems home tours have evolved, just like architecture.

My first clue was when my mother mentioned the beer at the end of the tour. That was unexpected. She had read the details carefully. I had not. Neither of us had been on a home and garden tour like that.

This tour’s focus was Mid-Century Modern. Think MadMen and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel— homes built around 1950—that’s mid-century modern.

Our first stop was a private home on the National Register of Historic Places. The house sits on a fairly busy street in town, but you would never know it once inside the gate. A lush lawn spread under massive magnolias and water oaks. Brick-lined beds overflowed with fatsia and fern. Urns filled with plumbago towered over my head creating an umbrella of periwinkle blue.

We were chatting away when the young man cleaning the pool heard our conversation and joined in. Turns out our garden guide was the current owner. As I stood between the young homeowner and my 84-year-old mother, I realized the house was not the only thing mid-century. Once we got inside and I was sure nobody was listening, I told my mother he looked 15 years old. She told me to get used to that. The older you get, the more everyone looks 15.

Tammy Davis

Tammy Davis

We avoided the sinkhole disaster on Trenholm Road and found our next stop, a lovely Heathwood home. A mid-century modern kids’ table had the perfect spot in the kitchen. In the den, they had an antique wooden child’s desk. Practical mothers span all historic periods. Mothers need to entertain their little ones while they cook. Little people need little furniture while they sit and read and write and draw. I loved the juxtaposition of those two desks from one room to the next. Styles change, practical parenting does not.

The next stop took us over to Forest Acres where every single detail was mid-century modern. My mother remembered the aqua kitchen appliances in this home. Hers had been avocado. I half expected Midge Maisel or Don Draper to walk in at any moment holding a martini and a cigarette.

There were other stops on the tour, but we didn’t make them all. I liked the flexibility and self-guided nature of the tour. Volunteers were on hand to answer questions, and home owners seemed happy to share the stories of each house.

All in all, my mother and I had a nice Sunday afternoon. We started at the Robert Mills House built in 1823 where we picked up our tickets and maps. Then, we spent the day in homes built between the 1920s–1960s.

Time constraints prevented us from attending the after-party, but I wish we had. I heard great things about it. This was not a punch-in-the-parlor kind of gathering. This little soiree was held in the re-purposed Curtiss-Wright airport hangar at Owens Field— now the popular Hunter- Gatherer brewery. Their black bean hummus is my favorite.

Architecture changes. Furnishings change. Our homes evolve. I guess it only makes sense that home tours change as well. From pearls and punch to pilsners and pale ale. This was not just my mother’s home tour. It wasn’t just mine either. This was everybody’s home tour. From the gracious young home owner, to the volunteers in their 30s and 40s, to the crowd that spanned all ages, we were a perfect mix of ages and styles, just like Columbia architecture. Robert Mills House to mid-century modern homes, to an old airport hangar converted to a modern-day brewery.

Architecture evolves. Home tours evolve. After-parties evolve. I’m good with that. I like hummus better than cucumber sandwiches anyway.

Tammy Davis is a S. C. writer. Davis’s first book, Chin Up, Buttercup, is available on Amazon and Kindle. She is looking forward to upcoming Columbia Historic Society events— S. C. Statehouse Monuments Tour and the S. C. Oyster Festival November 16 and the beginning of the Holiday House Tours beginning November 22.

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