Ainsley Hall House

Also known as: Robert Mills Historic House and Park
1616 Blanding St., Columbia, South Carolina


Ainsley Hall or Robert Mills House

Photo taken by Michael Miller in August 2014


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This Classical two story brick mansion was built for a wealthy merchant by Robert Mills (1781-1855), native South Carolinian, first Federal architect and the designer of the Washington Monument. -- National Historic Landmark statement of significance, November 7, 1973

The Ainsley Hall House preserves architecture that is of national importance because of the period it represents, the quality and type of its design, the excellence of its restoration, and the fame of its architect. Its designer, Robert Mills (1781-1855), was a native South Carolina architect and engineer who studied under Hoban and Latrobe and became the first American-trained Federal architect, serving under 7 Presidents. He was the designer of the Washington Monument and was responsible, in great measure, for the national capital’s early trend toward the classical style in its public buildings. Of the few Mills residences remaining in the United States, the Ainsley Hall House is considered one of the superior examples. Since Ainsley Hall, an English-born wealthy merchant in Columbia, died before the house was completed and it was never occupied or completely finished as a residence, it is more closely associated with the architect. The house was occupied for many years by the Columbia Theological Seminary. Winthrop, the South Carolina College for Women, was founded in the house in 1886. It became the home of the Columbia Bible College from late 1920s to 1962. Built in 1823 in the center of an entire city block of four acres, the Classical Revival style brick mansion is two-storied on an elevated basement. The front façade has an Ionic-temple portico with four massive columns rising from a raised brick arcade. The rear, or garden, entrance has a seven-bay arched porch. Three outbuildings have been reconstructed. Listed in the National Register July 16, 1970; Designated a National Historic Landmark November 7, 1973. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1970
Reference number
NR name
Hall, Ainsley, House
Architectural styles
Early Republic; Other architectural type; Classical
Areas of significance
Landscape Architecture; Education; Architecture; Religion
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Plaza
Current functions
Museum; Plaza
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1800-1824; 1825-1849
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing structures: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 3

Update Log 

  • October 3, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View", Corrected "NRHP Listing" to reflect it's status as a National Historic Landmark and Imported Photo
  • October 3, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • August 11, 2014: New photo from Michael Miller

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