Wanda Gale Breedlove didn’t plan to buy a mansion five years ago, but somehow, it happened.
She attended a bankruptcy auction in May of 2014 where the historic DeBruhl Marshall House was up for sale. She said she’d hoped to see some of her preservationist friends also attending to purchase the nearly 200-year-old property, but they were not there. Without any sort of plan, Breedlove impulsively bought the residence.
“I didn’t go into the auction with the intention of buying it,” she laughed. “I surprised myself, it was a shock.”
Located on Laurel Street in downtown Columbia, the building sat unused for 20 years prior to the sale. Now, after her years of hard work (along with other helpful hands), she is excited to offer the building as a rentable event venue.
Originally built in 1820 and owned by Lowcountry planter Jesse Debruhl, the residence combines Greek revival architecture at the front of the house, with Southern antebellum style on the opposing side (Breedlove said neither side is called the “back”). The paved carriageway to the right of the house opens into a garden, which has been carefully landscaped to include azaleas, camellias, holly bushes, a “maze” of walkways, a brick wall with climbing fig vines and a dogwood tree.
Breedlove has taken steps to ensure the venue is environmentally friendly. “We don’t do any practices that are harmful to plants, animals, or people,” she said. Discounts are even available to parties who utilize environmentally sensitive practices while renting the space. “If they maybe use their grandmother’s wedding gown, or they donate their leftovers, there’s a list of things. We’re open to things people might think of, too,” she added.
Since she bought the property in 2014, Breedlove has been living on the ground floor of the residence. “I call it camping out – most people wouldn’t have been willing to live in that way. The first four years I was a gardener, now I say I’m the caretaker, because somebody needs to be,” she said. “We are making substantial improvements. It’s only been the last six months we’ve been able to do cosmetic things and make it attractive.”
The extensive process to renovate and improve the house and grounds has now finally reached a point where Breedlove is ready to open its doors. Historic Columbia will be hosting a “behind the scenes tour” of the mansion Tuesday. Additional information about the tour (and ticket purchasing) can be found HERE.
The cost of renting the DeBruhl Marshall House and gardens for a full day is $4,800. Wedding packages including a bridal salon, groom’s den, bridal portraits, and rehearsal the evening before will be $5,800. For rental inquiries, email email@example.com