The South Carolina State House in Columbia is, in many ways, like no other. It’s worth touring when you’re in this state’s surprisingly lively capital city. Free tours that begin with a mandatory film are given Monday through Saturday, and it’s recommended that you call ahead to reserve. We called 803 734 2430 on our way into town in the afternoon and got on the next tour, but we were lucky and in off-season.
South Carolina’s original capital was Charleston, but it was decided that the capitol building should be in the center of this state, which was one of the original 13 colonies. Columbia was America’s 1st planned capital city. The construction of this building began 6 years before the Civil War began. When incendiary-loving William Sherman marched through in 1865, he didn’t destroy the new capitol but he tried. He fired several cannon balls at it but it survived. Today, bronze stars mark the spots where the shells struck. The city wasn’t as lucky. One-third of it completely burned including the old wooden state capitol. The new one wasn’t completed until 1907 because South Carolina was broke after the war.
This building has a double dome, another unique feature. Built for purely aesthetic reasons, the inner false dome fits inside the steel. wood, and copper outer dome. It’s legislative chambers are traditional except for a sword and a mace. The building’s interior is often lovely but the most beautiful area is the joint legislative conference room with 2 winding staircases.
There have been 38 female governors. South Carolina’s 1st and only one is Nikki Haley, the 1st Asian-American woman Governor. She had to resign early in 2017 when she was named the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, a position that suits her outspoken ways and take-charge personality.
The painting of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Cowpens in the Senate antechamber was one of the 1st paintings to show an African-American in a battle.
Our tour guide Jill mentioned that one film has been made in this building. I wish she hadn’t. Accidental Love earned 9% on Rotten Tomato’s Tomatometer. That’s far too high.