South Carolina

Alston House – Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Richland County Photos  |  Alston House

Edit This Page  |  Leave A Comment

Though in a state of disrepair today, this building stands as a symbol of African-American entrepreneurship in Columbia during the late nineteenth century. It was built around 1872 and became the residence and business of Carolina Alston, a local African-American merchant. Though the initial date of her occupancy is unclear, she is thought to have lived and worked here some time between the years of 1875 and 1895. When Alston operated her dry goods store at this location, she was one of only 25 black business owners in the capital city. Her success as a merchant made her a leader in Columbia’s African-American community.

Alston House

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Alston sold the building to an African-American grocer, L.M. Keitt, in 1906. (He is not to be confused with South Carolina Representative L.M. Keitt, who served from 1856 through 1860.) The building then passed through several owners, both black and white, through the early twentieth century following Keitt’s ownership. In 1946 it was bought by Eugene and Mary Katherine Simmons McDuffie and became McDuffie’s Antiques.

Alston House Side

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Their antiques business was renowned throughout the Southeast, and the McDuffies were well-regarded in collectors’ circles for their knowledge of Southern furnishings. The McDuffies also owned the historic manse Greenleaf Villa in Camden, where they showcased their private collection. This building is still referred to as McDuffie’s Antiques by some today.

Alston House Door

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The one-story Greek Revival building sits on a raised brick foundation. Many homes with such a foundation in this area were referred to as “Columbia cottages.” The Alston House features two interior chimneys and a front doorway flanked by sidelights, or vertical windows. A transom light caps the entrance, and a one-story addition extends from the back of the building. Below is a photo of the home when it was McDuffie’s Antiques. It won a Historic Columbia Preservation Award in 1986 and continues to be used as commercial property.

Alston House Historical

Mabel Bradley Payne, Richland Library, 1959

The Alston House is listed in the National Register:

(McDuffie’s Antiques) Built ca. 1872, this building is important for its association with early African American business people in Columbia. Possibly as early as 1875 and definitely by 1895, the Alston House was used as a residence and dry goods store by Carolina Alston. Alston, a prosperous businesswoman, was one of only twenty-five black business people operating in the Columbia area in the late 1800s. In 1906, Alston sold the building to L. M. Keitt, an African American businessman, who operated a grocery store on the site. Following Keitt’s ownership, the property passed through a series of owners until 1946 when it became McDuffie’s Antiques. This one-story clapboard Greek Revival cottage set on brick foundations features a gable roof with two interior chimneys, a centrally located doorway with transom and sidelights, and early nineteenth century ironwork on the front of the building. A small one-story addition extends in an ell from the rear of the building.

Alston House Info

Address: 1811 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
GPS Coordinates: 34.004612,-81.023468

Alston House Map

Alston House – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Alston House, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

Alston House - Related Entries

Alston House
Alston House

Boyne-Pressley-Spigner House

Dovilliers-Manning-Magoffin House

Rutherford House

Allen in Columbia SC

Founders Park
Founders Park

Lieber Building

Stork Brickyard Chimney

Horry-Guignard House


Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York

© 2018, LLC All rights reserved.