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One of Columbia’s oldest houses caught fire Thursday

Historic Columbia home burned in Thursday morning fire

The fire was in the attic, officials said.
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The fire was in the attic, officials said.

One of the oldest houses in Columbia, which survived Sherman’s March during the Civil War, caught fire Thursday morning, according to officials.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire at the Horry-Guignard House, 1527 Senate St., at the University of South Carolina near its new law school campus around 10 a.m. Investigators determined the fire was electrical in nature.

Heavy smoke and fire were visible from the roof of a small building near the main house, and firefighters had the fire contained in the attic around 10:25 a.m., according to Columbia Fire officials.

Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Helms said the Horry-Guignard House is one of two houses being historically preserved on the block, the other being the Taylor House.

Helms said the fire caused about $40,000 in damage to the building.

No one was displaced, and the fire did not damage the law school.

Helms said a firefighter was injured at the scene, but it was not fire-related.

USC owns the house, and plans in 2013 called for installing a wall or hedge at corner of the property and hardscaping in the front of the building.

The home was built before 1813 likely by Peter Horry, a colonel in the Revolution and brigadier general of the S.C. Militia, according to the S.C. Department of Archives and History.

The land previously belonged to S.C. Surveyor General John Gabriel Guignard, who planned the streets of Columbia.

The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

John Sherrer, Historic Columbia’s director of cultural resources, said the part of the building that caught fire is a significant portion of that property.

He said a report indicated it was built sometime between Horry’s death in 1815 and 1872, when it appeared on a bird’s eye view map of Columbia. Horry had not mentioned the one-room building in his journal.

An addition was later made that connected the smaller building to the main house. The addition was torn down to separate the two buildings in the 1980s as part of a restoration, Sherrer said.

He said the smaller building may have originally served as an office.

Sherrer said the Horry-Guignard House survived the Civil War, modernization and expansion of USC, which is working to preserve it and integrate it into the fabric of campus. He’s also glad it survived Thursday’s fire.

“I'm very thankful that the fire didn't consume the entire structure and that it was localized and extinguished before we lost this irreplaceable link to the past and contributing aspect of this larger historic property,” Sherrer said.

Glen Luke Flanagan and Jeff Wilkinson contributed to this report.

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