Published on July 10th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Elm Abode Mansion: “A Hidden Treasure”
A Conversation with Valerie and Charles Aiken, the new owners of the Elm Abode Mansion Columbia South Carolina…
Question: Explain the history of the Elm Abode Mansion:
This stately antebellum home was built in the early 1930’s during the great depression. Dr.Thor Elmgren and his wife Hannah Sylvan lived in the house located at 1335 Elm Abode Terrace with their family Of 8 children. Theproperty sits on five acres, it has eleven bedrooms andtwelve bathrooms, all total the house is 11,500 square feet. Dr.Elmgren was an eye doctor. He also grew fresh produce, and exoctic plants.
When Thor died in the 50’s Ms.Hannah Elmgren begin to sell lots from their hundreds of acres of land. This is how the neighborhood was formed. Many of the streets are named after their grandchildren. Ms.Elmgren donated the tracts of land along Broad River road for the Lutheran Church, the bank and Virginia Wingard Church. Based on information from some of the residents the Elmgren’s were very friendly, and often invited the residents to attend socials and holiday events at their house. Ms.Elmgren loved to entertain and often allowed others to have parties in her home.
The Elm Abode Mansion, over the years has gone through several ownership changes. According to county records no other family has lived in the house for any extended period of time. The property has struggled to be viable as a resident in today’s uncertain economy, that is clearly documented in the ownership transactions recorded in Richland County.
Question: How long was the property vacate before the Aiken’s purchased it?
It’s our understanding that the property had been vacate for 14 years and homeless people were staying on the third floor. The house was an eye sore, in the neighborhood the yards were severely overgrown with large vines and bushes. The house had water leaks and mold, it needed a new roof, windows repaired due to broken glass, plumbing work, electrical repairs, a new heating and a/c system with duct work, exterior and interior painting of the entire house, redoing all the hardwood floors, new light fixtures and all new kitchen appliances.
Question: Why do you think the property was vacate and neglected for 14 years?
This is a very unique property that most people probably never new it existed. The Elm Abode community is a wonderful neighborhood with mostly early 60 and 70 residential construction actually the Elm Abode Mansion was built way before the neighborhood was constructed. I think as families changed and married couples could no longer afford large families who could work the property fewer perspective buyers were available to purchase the Elm Abode Mansion. As time passed the cost to repair and fix the house was extremely expensive, making the property less attractive for residential use. As a matter of fact the county was getting ready to demolish the Elm Abode house due to neighborhood pressure.
Question: What made you want to buy the Elm Abode Mansion?
We are true entrepreneurs who have a passion for working hard, and creating a diamond out of the rough. My wife, Valerie who reminds me so much of Mother Teresa, was the driving force in saving the Elm Abode Mansion. She negotiated the sale of the property and assembled a team of professionals to restore the great house to it’s majestic state. We were not sure how we would use the house, we talked about living in the house, however as time passed we thought it would be even better to share the property with the community and our friends. We are convinced that was the right thing to do. We’ve enjoyed meeting some awesome people from all over the country. People like the judges for the Miss South Carolina Pageant, CEO’s of major corporations, students and faculty from Columbia International University, Prominent church leaders, non-profit organizations, golfers from all over the USA, and successful TV celebrities.
Questions: How has the Elm Abode community responded to the renovating of the House?
I think overall most residents see the renovation project as a improvement to the Neighborhood. They no longer have to be concerned with homeless people staying in the house, and instead of the property being an embarrassment to neighborhood, it has become a tremendous benefit for all property owners. Property values have stabilized and residents now can take great pride in showcasing this wonderful hidden treasure. While the renovations have all been completed our use of the property has caused the Neighborhood Association leadership to criticize our desire to share our home with friends and family.
Question: Why do you think the neighborhood association leadership is critical about how you use your home?
I think some neighbors have complained about the music being to loud, traffic driving through the neighborhood, and the fact that their property values have gone down. In some cases some of the residents refer to our home as the party house. Never the less we live in the Elm Abode community and we consider ourselves good neighbors. We have made efforts to share our home with the community, we invited the entire community to a Christmas party, it was a big a success, we had great turn out and we did tours of our home. We will continue to be good neighbors and hopefully in time the neighborhood association leadership will come to appreciate the importance of saving historic land marks in our community.
If you have an interest in visiting us at our Elm Abode Mansion please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or you call us at 803-513-4889 or 803-513-4893.