THE ALSTON HOUSE
The Alston House stood as a symbol of African-American entrepreneurship in downtown Columbia, SC during the late nineteenth century. The one-story Greek Revival, built around 1872, became the residence and business of Carolina Alston, the first African-American, female merchant in the city 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 state's capital city at that time. Her success as a merchant made her a leader in Columbia’s African-American community until she sold the building to African-American grocer, L.M. Keitt, in 1906. The Alston House was placed on the Historic Registry in 1976 and decades later, rendered abandoned and unusable.
Purchased in August of 2019, this historical landmark is back in the hands of an African American woman educator and entrepreneur, Dr. Jennifer Clyburn Reed. Dr. Reed has submitted restoration plans which have been approved by the city planning committee. Work to restore The Alston House and improve the surrounding lot will begin February 2021 and be completed by July 2021.
THE ALSTON HOUSE NEWS
THE STATE NEWSPAPER
Clyburn Reed plans to restore historic building along Columbia’s Gervais Street
Retired educator Jennifer Clyburn Reed, daughter of longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, bought the property at 1811 Gervais about a year ago. The building there — known as the Alston House — was built in 1872 and for many years served as a residence and dry goods store run by prominent African American businesswoman Caroline Alston — was built in 1872 and for many years served as a residence and dry goods store run by prominent African American businesswoman Caroline Alston.
THE POST & CARRIER COLUMBIA
Clyburn’s daughter renovating site of first Black
woman-owned business in Columbia
Jennifer Clyburn Reed, a retired educator and daughter of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, has filed her plans with the city to spend $75,000 for multiple repairs on the small house in the Greek revival style at 1811 Gervais St.
She is seeking a tax credit for historic structure repair, including replacing the house’s gutters and the wooden front porch it currently has in favor of a porch with ironwork like the building had decades ago.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
Alston House, Richland County
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.
This one-story cottage was used as a residence and dry goods store by Carolina Alston, an important leader of the black business community, and one of only about 25 African American business people operating in the Columbia area in the late 1800s. Changing hands several times, it became McDuffie's Antiques in 1946.
THE HISTORICALMARKER DATABASE
This Greek Revival cottage, built ca. 1872, was the residence and business of Caroline Alston, a black businesswoman who lived and ran a dry goods store here as early as 1873. She purchased the house in 1888, becoming one of the few black business owners in Columbia during the period. Alston, known for her "esteem and confidence" of her black and white customers, sold the house in 1906.