Historical Gem Hidden In Plain Sight

COLUMBIA (WACH) - Many of us have probably driven past a home at 1705 Hampton Street and had no idea who used to live there. Turns out it was none other than President Woodrow Wilson.

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home was completed in 1871.

Wilson lived in the home during some of his teenage years.

And it was not only a time that was significant in helping shape our future President, but our country as well.

"It's here that President Wilson, then known as "Tommy" Wilson - a teenager, and his family lived during Reconstruction. And so the Reconstruction story, the context within which the family lived here in the capital city of South Carolina, is hugely important." says John Sherrer of the Historic Columbia Foundation.

And the home is being heralded as not only telling the story of Woodrow Wilson, but also telling the stories of people like Richard Greener, who were affected by Reconstruction.

Greener was the first African American graduate of a very prestigious school.

"The real desegregation actually happened in 1873 with Richard Greener as he was the very first professor and also the very first graduate of Harvard College. Well again, these are stories that you don't hear very often." states John Dozier from the Historic Columbia Board of Trustees.

And Wilson's home is helping bring stories like Greener's back to life.

"By virtue of having this site with Woodrow Wilson being so important to, also being shaped by the Reconstruction era, having this site to be able to tell those stories helps us to make sure that those stories never get lost again." explains Dozier.

Those stories were almost lost in 2005 when the historic home had to be closed due to structural issues.

But thanks to grants and private donations, the home was able to be completely renovated for $ 3.6 million dollars.

The official opening to the public will be on February 15th of 2014, but the excitement is already growing for what this home will mean to the community.

"They absolutely celebrate Woodrow Wilson as a President, Woodrow Wilson as he was growing into being our President, but it also celebrates what was happening here in the state of South Carolina. But even more locally, here in Columbia, South Carolina." concludes Dozier.

The Woodrow Wilson family home is South Carolina's only Presidential site.