Request Made to Open SC Statehouse for More Tours -

Request Made to Open SC Statehouse for More Tours

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Tour guide Paul McCravy tells a Statehouse tour about the House chamber Thursday. Tour guide Paul McCravy tells a Statehouse tour about the House chamber Thursday.

Columbia’s tourism bureau wants the South Carolina Statehouse open for tours every Saturday to boost tourism, and is asking the State House Committee to make that happen. Now, the Statehouse is open only on weekdays and the first Saturday of each month.

"If you traveled any distance at all, you would be very disappointed in the fact that you spent that time to see something that you really wanted to record in your experience and not have that opportunity to see it," says John Gamble, of Knoxville, Tennessee. He and his wife Gail toured the Statehouse Thursday afternoon. He recently retired, which allowed them to take the tour on a weekday. Otherwise, he says, they would have come on Saturday and been disappointed that it was closed.

But opening the Statehouse every Saturday would cost taxpayers money. The state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism estimates it would cost about $6,500 a year.

The Statehouse used to be open for tours every Saturday after extensive renovations were finished in 1998, but the number of Saturdays was later cut to one a month to save money.

The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports, and Tourism is the group asking for the additional tours.

The State House Committee, which oversees the Statehouse building and grounds, is made up of five members of the state House and five state senators. Members wanted more specific information about costs and staffing before making a decision.

(Note on style, if you're wondering why we refer to the capitol building as Statehouse, while it's the State House Committee. The State House Committee is the official name that group of lawmakers calls itself. However, the AP Stylebook says, and we agree, that a state's legislative building should be referred to as "Statehouse,"one word. That's because the legislature is made up of a State House and a State Senate, so referring to the entire body or building as "State House" would be confusing.)
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