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Landmark for sale — to preservationists only

One of Columbia's oldest homes, a downtown landmark owned by the same family for 130 years and largely unchanged, has gone on the market.

Whoever buys the historic Lorick House must agree to preserve it. It was built about 1840.

"We wanted someone to live there permanently, so we hope that's what its fate will be," said Lee Prina, 85, who donated her childhood home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation so it would be protected.

The price: $595,000.

She and her husband, Ed Prina, spent their careers as journalists in New York and Washington, D.C. They visited the spacious, two-story house every couple of months or so, but recently made the difficult decision to give up the house they love for its fireplaces and music parlor, balconies and lovely old trees.

The house, at Hampton and Blanding streets downtown, is one of the city's few remaining antebellum homes.

John Sherrer, director of cultural resources for the Historic Columbia Foundation, said the property is as remarkable as the house itself.

The 1.28-acre lot "lies in contrast to a lot of areas that have been affected with redevelopment and parking lots and things of that nature," Sherrer said.

"It's really charming. People go by and say, 'Wow.' It looks the way it has looked for a long time."

The white stucco home is next door to the Woodrow Wilson boyhood home, a historic house museum that's being rehabilitated; and just across the street from the Mary Chesnut cottage, open to visitors as a bed and breakfast.

It lies just beyond the bounds of the Robert Mills historic district, established in the 1960s to preserve architecturally important buildings.

In the three weeks the house has been on the market, Susan Zais with ERA Wilder Realty said, about 15 clients have toured the property - several of them lawyers looking for office space, though Lee Prina insists she wants the house to remain a family home.

The five-bedroom house has original floors, windows, doors and molding. It has 12-foot ceilings and radiator heat.

"It's been very well taken care of and loved, very treasured, by the previous owners," Realtor Liana Orr said.

In the backyard, near a drive shaded by a canopy of trees, is a tiny playhouse with matching doors. The Lorick sisters - Lee and her twin, Mary - played with dolls there when they were little girls.

Mary Lorick Boyle, who has passed away, was an interior designer based in Sumter.

"The house has been in my family since my grandfather bought it, shortly after the Civil War," Lee Prina said.

Ross Bradford with the National Trust for Historic Preservation said the organization will ensure the home is preserved and maintained - not as a museum but as a livable building.

About 105 pieces of property have been donated to the National Trust through its "gifts of heritage" program since it began in 1985, though this is the first in S.C., program consultant Marilyn Kochan said.

The following are excerpts from an unattributed newspaper article about the Lorick House and the property around it. The year "1932" is handwritten on the photocopy, provided by the National Trust for Historic Places.

FOUNDER OF SIDNEY PARK BUILT LORICK RESIDENCE

Noble Trees, Live Oak, Magnolia and Sweet gum -- A Lovely Home in a Graceful, Gracious Setting -- House About 100 Years Old.

It is told of the late Preston C. Lorick that when driving in the country around Columbia 40 years ago there were two things that he could always see in the city. One was the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church, his church, of which he was an officer, and the other was the top of a sweet gum tree which stood near his house on the northeast corner of Plain (now Hampton) and Barnwell streets. There the tree stands today, but because of its great height it has been topped twice to lessen the danger to the house. But Mr. Lorick always said there was very little danger of a sweet gum ever blowing over, its roots extending very far.

Mr. Lorick always had affection for the sweet gum tree and for other trees in his grounds about his home, especially for the live oak, which is ... one of the most graceful and beautiful trees in the city. The tree must be very much more than 1000 years old. It has a well rounded top and its spread must be about 120 feet, and the circle of its shade is enticing.

He loved these and the other trees there, not only because he was a lover of trees, but because of their associations. Walking out one afternoon with his bride, as they passed this lovely home, she said to him that she wanted him to buy her that home. He replied that he would do so "if Hampton was elected." Hampton was elected that fall and the next spring, April 14, 1877, the home was bought, and it has been occupied ever since and is now by his widow, Mrs. Agnes F. Lorick, who had wished for it 56 years ago.

...

It is one of the loveliest homes in Columbia in its setting and in its interior decorations and arrangements, as well as in the substantiality of its construction. It was built about 100 years ago by A.S. Johnson, state printer, friend and relative of Colonel and Senator William C. Preston. It was then an eight or maybe nine room house. It is now a 12 room house, additions having been made by Mr. (illigible), who subsequently owned the place, and other additions and improvements by Mr. Lorick himself.

The late Clark Waring, one of the greatest builders Columbia has ever had, is quoted as saying that he had done that house over three times. One time he built a tower on it. Later he took the tower down. The graceful chimneys each in its own style are said to have been his own workmanship. When building the brick foundations to the front piazza, it seemed as if he would have to move a handsome camelia japonica which still flourishes there. But he said no, he would arch the foundations so that the roots of the plant would not be disturbed. The hollow tile construction of the rear addition to the main brick house is probably his work, and the ceilin gof the front piazza is a style much affected by Mr. Waring, who was both architect and builder.

In addition to the splendid sweet gum tree, which has attached to it, reaching its top, a very old purple wistaria, the live oak, described, is an equally noble magnolia grandiflora. It must be 60 feet or more tall. Originally there were two, but one was electrocuted and killed by a boy's kite string becoming wet and running from a power wire of heavy voltage to the tree. There is a much prized magnolia macrophylla, or large leaved cucumber tree, in full vigor. Very striking is a walkway from the front garden to the rear wall, about 150 feet long with a hedge about eight feet high on each side of the path of Carolina cherry or mock orange. Its freedom from blight and the lustre of its leaves encourage the displacing of the Amoor privet with this most excellent native shrub.

Enough has been said to show the unusual attractions of the home added by its trees. It is sufficient to name a few of the shrubs and flowering plants to indicate the thought that has been given to the plantings; crab apples, broad leaved ligustrums, azaleas, white hydrangeas, flowering peach, lilacs, snowballs, red buds, Tom Thumb spirea justicia, pink dogwood and holly. Omission must not be made of the beautiful sward of (summer and winter) grass that is kept mowed and watered.

Added interest is given to the house since it was built by A. Sidney Johnston, one time state printer, and member of city council. I. Scott's Random Recollections tells that while Mr. Johnston was a member of city council he proposed the making of a park, the hillsides above the springs which supplied the town with water, which then were "solid red clay, scored ... scarred by a number of deep gullies. Council appropriated sufficient money to beautify the place and the park was superintended by Mr. Johnston, at whose death is was named Sidney Park. It was sold by the city to the Seaboard Air Line railway about 30 years ago for a passenger station site, but being found unsuited for this purpose it is now leased for warehouses, ice plants and the like.

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