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University History

  • Bronze statue commemorating first three African American students admitted to USC since Reconstruction.


Explore the university's historic moments, meaningful places and acknowledgments of the past that are memorialized throughout the Columbia campus. 

Original Horseshoe Campus (1805)

One of the university's most historic areas is the Old Campus or Horseshoe. Its inclusion on the National Register of Historic places is an acknowledgment of the more than 200 years of history that have unfolded on campus, in the City of Columbia, and across South Carolina.


  • Plaque at the top of the horseshoe acknowledging the contribution of enslaved people building the original University of South Carolina campus. It says "Slavery and the South Carolina College. The horseshoe, the original campus of the University of South Carolina (established in 1801 as the South Carolina College), still appears much as it did in the mid-1800s Its buildings and historic wall were substantially constructed by slave labor and built of slave-made brick. Enslaved workers were essential to the daily operations of the college, whether they were owned by the faculty or the college itself, or hired from private citizens. Enslaved people lived in outbuildings, one of which still stands behind what is now the President's House. The University of South Carolina recognizes the vital contributions made by enslaved people."

    Slavery Historical Marker

    Horseshoe Landmark (top of Horseshoe)

    This marker acknowledges the vital contributions of enslaved people at the university during the antebellum era. Many of the historic buildings on the Horseshoe were made of slave-made brick and constructed and maintained by enslaved workers. The marker further states that: Enslaved workers were essential to the daily operations of the college, whether they were owned by the faculty or the college itself, or hired from private citizens. 

  • Bronze statue commemorating first three African American students admitted to USC since Reconstruction.

    Desegregation Monument

    McKissick Museum (top of Horseshoe) | Basil B. Watson, Sculptor

    This 12-foot black granite and bronze statue commemorates the post-reconstruction integration of USC. Inspired by the now-iconic photograph of three African American students — Robert G. Anderson, Henrie Monteith Treadwell and James L. Solomon Jr. — stepping out of the Osborne Administration building after meeting with university officials on Sept. 11, 1963. The artist embedded books within the steps under the three students to represent USC’s foundation of knowledge, and Treadwell holds papers signifying their passport to the university and the world of knowledge.

  • Desegregation Garden featuring brick walkways, green grass and flowers and a plaque.

    Desegregation Commemorative Garden

    Horseshoe Garden (adjacent to Osborne Administration Building)

    This garden honors the first three Black students admitted to the university since Reconstruction — students Henrie Monteith (now Treadwell), James L. Solomon Jr. and Robert G. Anderson who integrated the campus in 1963. The garden features three sculpted juniper topiaries created by topiary artist Pearl Fryar, flowered beds, brick pathways and a granite monument etched with an original poem written by university poet Nikky Finney. The garden was dedicated as part of a yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of desegregation.
    Photo by Rick Smoak Photography 

  • Old brick building that used to be slaves quarters surrounded by vines and trees

    Kitchen House and Slave Quarters Marker

    Horseshoe Landmark (near President's House)

    This marker identifies the last remaining kitchen and slave quarters on campus — a brick building located near the southeast corner of the President’s House. Along with acknowledging the limited inclusion of these individuals in university records, the marker identifies known enslaved workers who helped build or worked at South Carolina College before the Civil War. 

  • Reconstruction marker at the bottom of the Horseshoe.

    Reconstruction Historical Marker

    Horseshoe Landmark (bottom of Horseshoe)

    The marker recognizes the post-Civil War Reconstruction era when the state constitution mandated that education be available to all South Carolinians regardless of race. From 1873-1877, the university admitted African American students and faculty members. In 1877, the university was forcibly closed by the state legislature and reopened in 1880 as an all-white institution, remaining segregated until 1963.

  • Maxcy Monument at the center of the horseshoe surrounded by beautiful red and yellow fall trees.

    Jonathan Maxcy Monument

    Horseshoe Landmark | Robert Mills, Designer

    South Carolinian Robert Mills, the nation’s first federal architect, designed the granite and marble monument that stands in the center of the Horseshoe. It was erected by the Clariosophic Literary Society in honor of South Carolina College’s first president, Jonathan Maxcy (1768-1820). Maxcy Monument is Mills’ first known use of an obelisk; his most famous one is the Washington Monument.

  • Stone grave marker of John R. McKissick surrounded by brick and leaves.

    J. Rion McKissick Grave

    Horseshoe Landmark (in front of South Caroliniana Library)

    University of South Carolina graduate J. Rion McKissick returned to the school in 1927 as Dean of the School of Journalism and later served as university president from 1936-1944. Upon his death in 1944, the student body petitioned the board of trustees to allow McKissick to be buried on campus. He is the only person to receive that honor.

  • Stone markers in a flower bed surrounded by pink flowers and mulch outside of the War Memorial Building.

    War Memorial Garden

    Horseshoe Garden (in front of War Memorial Building)

    This memorial garden honors students and alumni who died during World War I and the Mexican border dispute. The markers, originally placed in front of Davis College in 1927,  share the grounds of the War Memorial Building, constructed in 1935 as the state’s memorial to those who served in World War I.

  • Statue of Richard T. Greener, the first African-American professor at the University of South Carolina, with pink flowers blooming and a sunset in the background.

    Richard T. Greener Statue

    Next to Thomas Cooper Library | Jon Hair, Sculptor

    Richard T. Greener (1844-1922) was the first African American professor at the University of South Carolina, serving during the Reconstruction Era, from 1873 through 1877.  Greener was the first African American graduate of Harvard University. In addition to teaching philosophy, Latin, and Greek at USC, Greener served as librarian and helped to reorganize and catalog the library's holdings after the Civil War. After leaving South Carolina, Greener served as dean of the Howard University School of Law, as a diplomat for the United States in Vladivostok, Russia, as secretary of the Grant Memorial, and he worked in private law practice.

  • Cocky Statue sitting on a bench with his hand raised doing a spurs up gesture and fall trees in the background.

    Cocky Statue

    Davis College (near Melton Observatory) | Robert Allison, Sculptor

    This 6-foot-5, 773-pound bronze statue of the university's popular mascot sits on a bench in the heart of campus. With one hand raised high in a spurs-up sign and the other hand resting on a stack of books, Cocky embodies the vibrant Carolina spirit and the mascot's unique role as a literacy leader around the state.

  • Metal Torchbearer statue on a brick base in front of Wardlaw college, surrounded by pathways and flowers.


    Wardlaw College | Anna Hyatt Huntington, Artist

    From its home in front of the College of Education, the cast bronze Torchbearer statue pays homage to the passing of knowledge from generation to generation. Hyatt Huntington is known for creating the first public monument by a woman in New York City outside of Central Park and founded the state's Brookgreen Gardens, a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve.

  • Stone sundial surrounded by bushes and brick pathways just off the historic Horseshoe.


    Currell College

    The Sundial Garden was created in honor of Omicron Delta Kappa members and alumni. Bordered by live oaks, dogwoods and boxwoods, five benches encircle the sundial in a pentagon shape.
    Photo by Rick Smoak Photography 

  • Longstreet Fountain in the center of the outdoor patio surrounded by archways.

    Longstreet Fountain

    Longstreet Theater Rear Patio | Allan J. Sindler, Sculptor

    Based on a design concept by Robert LaForce and interpreted in concrete in 1975 by South Carolina alumnus and sculptor Allan J. Sindler (1925-2010), the Longstreet Fountain is part of an outdoor patio at the rear of Longstreet Theater. In 2008, the fountain was reinterpreted by Sindler in stainless steel.
    Photo by Rick Smoak Photography 

  • Outdoor sculpture garden featuring numerous studnet and alumni artwork.

    McMaster Sculpture Garden

    McMaster College Front Lawn

    McMaster College is home to the university’s School of Visual Art and Design and features an outdoor sculpture garden of student and alumni installations.
    Photo by Rick Smoak Photography 

  • Metal sculpture in the Darla Moore School of Business courtyard surrounded by palmetto trees.

    Eternal Flame

    Darla Moore School of Business Palmetto Courtyard | Leonardo Nierman, Artist

    This sculpture created by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman was the first addition of public art to the campus. Nierman’s use of flame, bird or angel symbolism conveys movement and harmony — a fitting inclusion for the nation’s top-ranked international business school.

  • Statue of a woman holding a quilt in front of the Koger Center for the Arts.

    AIDS Awareness Sculpture

    Koger Center for the Arts | Estelle Frierson, Artist

    The statue, which features a woman holding an AIDS quilt, was created by Lexington artist Estelle Frierson. The public work of art, which was presented to USC, is symbolic of the university's commitment to community outreach, education programs and research concerning HIV and AIDS.

  • Water running off the fountain featuring doves in flight.

    Las Palomas

    Arnold School of Public Health Courtyard | Sandy Scott, Artist

    This bronze sculpture is the centerpiece of Anne’s Garden, named for USC alumna and Columbia Green founder Anne Rainey. The Spanish name, which name translates into “The Doves” in English, honors the doves in flight and enduring hope reflected in the sculpture composition.

  • Bronze statue of A'Ja Wilson shooting a basketball with a blue sky in the backgroud.

    A’ja Wilson Statue at Colonial Life Arena

    Colonial Life Arena | Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, Sculptor

    “Shoot for the Stars” honors the accomplishments — on and off the basketball court— of alumna A’ja Wilson, who led the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA National Championship, 2015 NCAA Final Four, three SEC regular-season championships and four SEC Tournament titles. The 11-foot-tall bronze statue sits atop a granite base.

  • Bronze Gamecock with its wings outstreatched in front of Williams-Brice Stadium.

    Gamecock Statue at Williams-Brice Stadium

    Springs Brooks Plaza | Jon Hair, Artist

    This mammoth bronze sculpture anchors Springs Brooks Plaza and was privately funded through the generosity of alumni donors. Cast and fabricated in San Diego and transported to Williams-Brice Stadium, the statue can be found near the corner of Bluff Road and George Rogers Boulevard. It is made of over 100 individual bronze castings that are welded together.

  • Statue of George Rogers in his football uniform with then number 38 on the jersey, standing on a bench outside of Williams-Brice Stadium.

    George Rogers Statue at Williams-Brice Stadium

    Springs Brooks Plaza | W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor, Artist

    This near-life-sized statue of alumnus, All-American and 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers depicts him standing on a bench in his number 38 jersey. Unveiled in 2015 on the day Springs Brooks Plaza was first opened to the public, the statue also features four plaques: two highlighting Rogers’ football career and records, one naming the 1980 football team roster and one listing donors of the privately funded project.

University History

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