Some of the best architecture in Columbia is exemplified in the city's historic homes. The Hampton-Preston Mansion, for example, is a restored antebellum mansion from 1818. When Wade Hampton I bought the property in 1823, the house received a stucco finish, scored to appear like cut stone. In the mid 1840s, the Prestons doubled the size of the house with an addition to the north facade. The mansion survived the burning of Columbia, but gradually fell into disrepair in the 1930s. It was finally retored in 1969 and opened as a historic house museum.

The Robert Mills House exemplifies the skill of the country's first Federal architecht. This house, from 1823, is a brick structure with a symmetrical exterior and interior. Built in the classical revival style, it featured a large portico dominating the north facade. When the house was sold to the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, the carriage house was converted into a chapel and dormitories replaced the small flankers on the sides of the house. In the 1930s the buildings gradually fell into disrepair, but were finally renovated and reopened as a historic house museum in 1967.

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home, built in 1872, is a Tuscan-villa style cottage, based on designs by architecht Andrew Jackson Downing. It features arches and bay windows that reflect the Victorian fascination with nature, and high, spacious ceilings. A grassroots movement in 1928 saved the house from demolition and it opened in 1932 as a museum.

Building for the State House began in the 1850s with a design by Major John R. Niernse, but came to a halt in 1865 when Sherman's artillery hit the structure six times. Niernse's original drawings were destroyed, and Charles C. Wilson was brought in as architecht, completing the structure in 1907. Today, the copper-domed granite building is adorned with six bronze starts to mark the cannon hits.