High-profile visits to Columbia, SC over the past 250 years, including a legendary rock band and a pope

What do George Washington, The Pope, Pink Floyd, Oprah Winfrey, and Maya Angelou all have in common? High-profile visits to Columbia, SC over the past 250 years. Read on to learn more about their visits.

The Pope Columbia, SC.jpeg

Pope John Paul II waves to onlookers from the popemobile in Columbia, SC. | Photo via Richland Library Digital Archives..

When President George Washington rolled into Columbia 232 years ago for a short stay at The Lafayette House located at 1407 Gervais St., he said:

“Columbia is laid out upon a large scale; but in my opinion had better been placed on the River below the falls. It is now an uncleared wood, with very few houses in it, and those all wooded ones. The State House, which is also of wood, is a large and commodious building, but unfinished.”

His 1791 trip was part of a tour of the southern states and Columbia’s first high-profile visit.

Today we’re looking at four other high-profile visits in Cola’s history.

Lafayette House.jpeg

The Lafayette House was built in the Eighteenth Century and was located at 1407 Gervais Street in Columbia. | Image via Richland Library Digitial Archives

George Washington | May 1791

America’s first president visited Columbia in the spring of 1791 on a tour of the southern states. He stayed at The Lafayette House located at 1407 Gervais St., a short distance from the State House.

Pink Floyd | April 16, 1972

Their album “The Dark Side of the Moon” spent 14 years on the “Billboard” album charts, sold ~45 million copies, and is the No. 4 selling album of all time. In 1972, Pink Floyd stopped by the Township Auditorium on tour for the album. The rest is rock ‘n roll history.

Pope John Paul II | September 12, 1987

The first and only visit of a pope to the state of South Carolina — Pope John Paul II spoke to USC students and attendees at an interchurch worship service at Williams-Brice Stadium and to parishioners at St. Peter’s Catholic Church downtown.

Oprah Winfrey | December 9, 2007

In 2007 Oprah was Forbes Magazine’s most influential celebrity. When she brought Oprah-mania to Cola, her event with then-Senator Obama had to be moved to Williams-Brice Stadium to hold the crowd of ~30,000.

Dr. Maya Angelou | September 13, 2003

The Poet and author came to Columbia to host The State’s Women’s Life & Style Expo at The Carolina Center. The State Newspaper ran a series leading up to the event highlighting “Phenomenal Women” in SC.

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