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Title College of Charleston (General)
Object Type Property File
Scope & Content Founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, the College of Charleston is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of South Carolina and the thirteenth oldest in the United States. The founders of the College, who sought "to encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education," included three signers of the Declaration of Independence and three fathers of the United States Constitution. By April 1790, students could demonstrate their excellent training in the liberal arts at a public examination presented to the board of trustees. The State Gazette of South Carolina praised their knowledge of the "Greek and Latin languages, as well as their extraordinary proficiency in the liberal arts and sciences." In 1836 the College of Charleston became the, nation's first municipal college when the city of Charleston assumed responsibility for its support and mandated that the College be "a Popular institution, intended for the great body of the people." These two early principles, a commitment to the liberal arts and a responsibility to the citizens of the region, have guided the College throughout its history. The admission of women students in 1918 and black students in 1968 demonstrates that the College's definition of "the people" has expanded. The College's ties to the past are visible in the many historic structures that serve as administrative and faculty offices and as student dormitories. The Bishop Robert Smith House, built in 1770, Randolph Hall, built in 1828, as well as the modern buildings which house state-of-the-art science and computer labs, record the centuries of the College's existence. In the Civil War, shells struck the President's Hall and the library, in World War I, the dormitory and part of the main building were turned into barracks. On August 31, 1886, the main building was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. In September 1989 Hurricane Hugo destroyed several of the majestic oaks on the campus. Despite the inevitable changes caused by man and nature, the College remains surpassingly beautiful. The wooded area in front of Randolph Hall has always been a center of student life. Originally called the "Campus Green," it became known as "The Cistern" in the nineteenth century when a large oval cistern was constructed to provide water for the campus. The students of 1854 complained that the janitor's cow interfered with their gymnastic exercises on the green. Today, on sunny fall afternoons students gather under the oaks for games of Frisbee or touch football. The traditional graduation exercises conducted on the Cistern in May are legendary for their beauty. From its beginnings in the 18th century, the College has attracted teachers and students of uncommon talent and commitment. In the eighteenth century Doctor Simon Felix Gallagher began the tradition of rigorous scholarship. The distinguished scientists Louis Agassiz and John Bachman served on the faculty in the nineteenth century. The present faculty is composed of 430 dedicated scholars and teachers. Students are at the center of the educational program, and professors work closely with them at all levels of study. Incorporated into the South Carolina State College System in 1970, the College began to serve a much broader region. Whereas the first class conducted at the College contained about a dozen Charlestonians, the student body now numbers approximately 9,800 students, 70 percent of whom are South Carolinians; other students come from 50 states and 65 foreign countries. The enduring commitment to the liberal arts is seen in the core curriculum of the College which requires study in English, history, modern and classical languages, math, science, the arts, and the social sciences. At the same time, the College has expanded its offerings to include new and emerging fields of study. The desire to respond to the needs of the region led President Harry M. Lightsey, Jr. to propose that the University of Charleston be established to help meet the area's demand for graduate education. In July 1992 the University of Charleston was founded. In the spring of 2006, more than 2,000 students are enrolled in 17 graduate degree programs and five certificate programs. (Source: C of C website)

File contains article from SC Historical Magazine (SCHS); National Register Nomination Form; report entitled "Master Development Plan for the College of Charleston" by Geiger/McElveen/Kennedy, Architects (1971) and its "Preliminary Study"; documentation pertaining to C of C's growth and Randolph Hall; Preservation Progress article "College: A Living Library of Architectural Styles" (1973); article from Historic Preservation (issue/date not provided) entitled "The College of Charleston: An Interview with Theodore S. Stern" (Wendy Adler interviewer, illustrated with photos of Blacklock House, the Gate Lodge, Lesesne House, library building, 70 George Street, 70 Coming Street and 72 coming Street and Randolph Hall) [found in the Frances R. Edmunds papers]; campus map; history of campus buildings from Architectural Guide to Charleston; campus guides to Porter Gate Lodge, The Cistern/Randolph Hall, other campus buildings (72 George, 74 George, 9 George, 10 Green); memoranda to President Stern from Anne "Introduction for booklet on preservation at the College: Gems in a Crown" and "Copy for preservation booklet concerning Randolph Hall, Lodge, and Library"; College of Charleston report "Protecting our Past: The Restoration and Preservation of the College of Charleston's Cistern Yard" (2016?).

Image #2 from Guide to Charleston Illustrated, 1875.
Subjects College of Charleston
Search Terms National Register of Historic Places
Physical Description 1 File Folder
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