History of WildeWood
By Club Historian Doug Bridges
On Friday, October 11th, 2002 Doug Bridges, President of the WildeWood Homeowners Association, interviewed C. Heath Manning, the primary developer of WildeWood. At that time the WildeWood story was unveiled in a concise history of the subdivision.
Around 1960, at about the same time Edwin Cooper was developing Spring Valley subdivision, Heath Manning, along with partner Darnell Boyd, purchased 37 tracts of land. The tracts consisted of 168 acres of the Hughes Pond area, which is now known as Section VII. In the same time frame an additional 200-acre tract was purchased which is now where the WildeWood Country Club resides. By 1962 the total acreage accumulated was 1600. Shortly thereafter Manning was having lunch at the Columbia Country Club (where Longcreek subdivision is now) with the Golf Pro from the Forest Lake Country Club, Melvin Hemphill. Mr. Hemphill suggested to Manning that he build a golf course at his new development of WildeWood. This was the first time Manning even thought about the idea of a golf course. Later, Russell Breedin was hired to build the course.
The first home actually built in the WildeWood area was located at 230 Hope Road and was constructed by the Randolph Hope family in 1967. It wasn't until 1971 that Developer Donny Boyd built a magnificent French provincial masterpiece on over 6 acres of land. The superb architectural features set the tone for structural design for homes in WildeWood for years to come right up to the present date. In 1973, Heath Manning joined his partner as a resident in WildeWood and moved into the home at 25 Running Fox Road built by legendary Columbia builder Harry Collins.
The vision of WildeWood actually originated in Memphis Tennessee. By playing his favorite pastime sport, polo, Heath Manning came across a beautiful subdivision in Memphis called WildeWood. The community included polo fields, horse stables and a golf course and country club. Many of the streets in WildeWood today are names after streets in the WildeWood of Memphis. However, original street names were designated by Manning such as Holliday Road, names for Manning's wife, Bootsie's, maiden name. Dibble Lane was named after one of Manning's sons, Dibble. Initially, our WildeWood included not one but two polo fields. Pebble Creek, Duck Pond, Lame Horse and Leaning Tree Roads surrounded the practice polo field. It is currently under development for residential housing. The main polo field was located where Polo Commons Apartments are now located. Real Polo games were played on Sunday afternoons and spectators from all around the state would come with blankets and picnic baskets and watch quality polo right here in WildeWood.
WildeWood grew congruously with the growth of Columbia. Until 1972 Two Notch Road was two lanes from Decker all the way to Camden. Spring Valley High School opened October 5th, 1970 and WildeWood's own John Hudgens was its first Principal. With the widening of Two Notch, the opening of I-20 and a brand new high school, WildeWood became visible, accessible and a popular option for prospective homeowners.
Some of the early contractors that participated in the development of WildeWood were Barber Keels and Doc Emerson who did a great deal of the surveying in the subdivision. Later, Billy Wingfield and his surveying company plotted many of the residential lots. The first on-site architect in WildeWood was Jack Richards from Camden, SC. A young USC graduate Architect names Jeff Stroud served as Jack's apprentice. Upon Jack Richard's passing in early '80's, Jeff Stroud assumed the responsibilities as the head of architecture for the subdivision, a position that he still holds today.
Today WildeWood is still buffered by Sesqui State Park, which has approximately 1500 acres. Together the contiguous 3100 acres under control offers great protection from undesirable elements. Approximately 1100 plus homes dot the WildeWood landscape. The image that Heath Manning and Donny Boyd had in the early 60's certainly became a reality as WildeWood was and is today one of South Carolina's most admired and coveted residential communities.