The Mills Building

The setting for “A Perfect Tempest”


            Designed by Robert Mills, this building received its first patient in 1828. Intended to be an asylum for the mentally ill and the deaf, it was called the SC Lunatic Asylum until it was renamed the SC State Hospital in 1896.


             During the Civil War, as funding problems grew worse, Dr. John W. Parker, the superintendent, opposed a plan to turn his complex into a prisoner-of-war camp. Although the Confederate Army did not get the asylum, the grounds were used as a prison camp for Union officers from October 1864 to February 1865.  Despite worsening conditions late in the war, the asylum became a refuge for many Columbia residents when the city burned during General William T. Sherman's occupation in February 1865. With dwindling provisions, Parker used his own personal funds to provide for his patients and for the destitute citizens.