The Mann-Simons Site, home to the same entrepreneurial African American
family for nearly 130 years, traces the journey of Columbia?s African
American community from enslavement through urban renewal.
While only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons Site historically was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African American family from at least 1843 until 1970. Midwife Celia Mann and boatman Ben Delane made this site their home by the early 1840s. Members of Columbia’s small population of free people of color, the couple challenged social norms at a time in which most Africans and African Americans were enslaved. Successive generations of their family negotiated the eras in which the capital city evolved from Jim Crow into the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Threat of demolition in 1970 galvanized a grassroots movement that saved the remaining structure, which opened as a house museum in 1978.