College of Charleston's 250th Anniversary Tour

In honor of the 250th anniversary of the College, we present this tour of the College of Charleston’s historic campus in downtown Charleston. Founded in 1770, this premiere liberal arts institution was the country's first municipal college and is now part of the state system. Our tour gives special attention to people formerly excluded from the campus, and buildings and sites that no longer exist, while also highlighting the College's present diversity.

For in-person visitors seeking a self-guided tour of our campus, each site on this tour has been marked with a Discovering Our Past medallion. An audio version of each story, voiced by Professor Joy Vandervort-Cobb, can be found with the images accompanying each story.

A History of the College’s Land

The story of the land that encompasses the College or Charleston campus reflects the history of the city.The peninsula of Charleston was home to Native Americans long before the first permanent European settlers arrived in 1670. As soon as they…

9 College Way

This building, originally a private residence, and now the home of the College’s Department of Communication, was the site of the Book Basement, a store run by two of Charleston’s most significant gay men of the middle of the 20th century.Originally…

4 Green Way

This house’s first owner was David D. Bailey, who purchased Lot 24 from the College in 1817 and, not long afterward, had this fine Charleston single house built for his young family. A decade later, after Bailey’s death, the house was offered for…

Randolph Hall

Randolph Hall, the College of Charleston’s most iconic building, was originally referred to as College Hall and later as the Main Building. The building’s stately appearance has made it a popular filming location for movies, television shows and news…

Towell Library

The College of Charleston owes it very existence to libraries and books. Established in 1748, the Charleston Library Society helped to lay the foundations for the College by raising funds for the purchase of scientific equipment and professorships…

Cistern Yard

Shaded by giant live oaks and enclosed by iron fencing, this large Cistern Yard is bordered by Randolph Hall to the north, Porter’s Lodge and George Street to the south, Towell Library and College Way to the west and St. Philip Street to the east.…

Porter's Lodge

The building was constructed in 1850-51 during renovations and additions that re-oriented the College’s main building towards George Street. Prior to these additions, this side of the campus had been a space for privies and a firehouse. Architect and…

The President's House

Today this handsome Georgian mansion with the garden around it serves as the President’s House; it was also the home of the College’s first president over 200 years ago.The land on which it stands was granted in 1672 to one of the colony’s original…

A History of St. Philip Street

During the antebellum period, this block was home to a cross-section of Charleston residents, a few of whom had ties to the College. Some were white Charlestonians with privileged or professional status, such as Francis Holmes, professor of…

Simons Center/Cato Center

Since 1979, the College of Charleston’s Albert Simons Center for the Arts has occupied a long site on the east side of St. Philip Street, its center courtyard facing Green Way. In late 2009, the arts center was expanded with the completion of The…

14 Green Way

The College first owned this property from 1770 until 1817, when it sold some of its land to satisfy debts. Carpenter Walter Knox purchased this lot and probably built the two-story house that stood on it for decades. In 1870 his widow, Catherine…

Addlestone Library & Rivers Green

Located at the southwest corner of Calhoun and Coming streets, The Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library is the College of Charleston’s fourth library and third library building. When Randolph Hall was first built in 1828-1829, one of its rooms was a…
250th Anniversary Historical Documentation Committee: Julia Eichelberger, Harlan Greene, Ron Menchaca, co-chairs
Researchers: Sarah Fick, Grayson Harris, Erik Cronell, Keyasia Pride
Website Curator: Grayson Harris

Special thanks for assistance with information, images, and permissions: Aaisha Haykal and Daron Calhoun, Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture; Melissa Mabry, Catholic Diocese of Charleston; Reference Librarians at College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library; John Morris and Michael Turner, College of Charleston Facilities Management; Meredith Perrone, College of Charleston Marketing and Communications; College of Charleston Office of Information Technology; Melantha Ardrey, College of Charleston Office of Residence Life; Mary Jo Fairchild, Sam Stewart, and Staff at College of Charleston’s Special Collections and South Carolina Historical Society;; Karen Emmons, Historic Charleston Foundation; Sarah Tignor, The Johnson Collection; Leah Worthington, Lowcountry Digital History Initiative; Preservation Society of Charleston. We also benefited from research done by students in C of C classes in English, Historic Preservation and Community Planning, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, African American Studies, and Southern Studies.

Website reviewers during Spring 2020: Jen Baker, Kris DeWelde, Adam Domby, Rachel Donaldson, Mary Jo Fairchild, Valerie Frazier, Renard Harris, Aaisha Haykal, Joe Kelly, Simon Lewis, Charissa Owens, Katherine Pemberton, Bernard Powers, Dale Rosengarten, Barry Stiefel, Michael Turner, Liz Whitworth.

This site will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have additional images or information to contribute to this tour, please contact us at discoveringourpast-group@cofc.edu.