Advocacy for, preservation of and education about the capital city’s unique houses and gardens has been the mission of Historic Columbia since the non-profit organization’s founding in 1961. A milestone will be celebrated in May with the 200th anniversary of construction of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, according to Robin Waites, Historic Columbia’s executive director since 2004. Waites (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Allyson Way Hank) was Capital Rotary’s April 11 guest speaker. She said the historic property’s May reopening follows more than a year’s worth of mansion repairs and restoration of its gardens and grounds. Also featured is a holistic reevaluation and restructuring of the site’s historical interpretation. Waites noted that from the 1820s to the 1870s, the estate grew to be Columbia’s grandest residence under the Hampton and Preston families and the many men, women and children enslaved there. In addition to the mansion, Historic Columbia provides house and garden tours at four other sites downtown, offsite bus and walking tours, and education programs for youth and adults. Waites was the SC State Museum’s chief curator of art before joining Historic Columbia’s staff.