Photograph of Presidents House

Slavery at South Carolina College, 1801–1865:

The Foundations of the University of South Carolina

First Professors House, 1810, rebuilt 1854 [Presidents House]

Detail of First Professors House from 1884 Sanborn Map
First Professors House, 1884 Sanborn Map, SCL

The First Professors House, now known as the Presidents House, was built in 1810 for faculty housing. The house, possessing a western and eastern wing, accommodated two professors’ families. Francis Lieber occupied the eastern wing during the first two years of his professorship, and James Thornwell resided there from 1837 to 1839. By 1853, the faculty tenants complained about the unsafe condition of the house: the walls were about to cave in because of water damage. Builder Clark Waring commenced in tearing the original house down in 1853 and finished constructing a more attractive and comfortable house on the original foundation in 1854. In the twentieth century, three of the college presidents extensively renovated the house, adding extra space and creating a single-family dwelling, among other alterations.

Contractor Thomas Wade constructed two brick kitchens, a wooden kitchen, and a wooden slave quarters in the 1840s behind the house. The wooden slave quarters and wooden kitchen disappeared long ago. One of the brick kitchens, a two-story building covered with ivy, was featured in an article of The State in 1937 as one of two slave quarters behind the First Professors House, but was razed soon afterward.

The second two-story brick kitchen / slave quarters is still extant on the eastern side of the garden at the current Presidents House. It was repaired during the 1970s renovation project of the Horseshoe. This structure is still in good condition and visible from the Horseshoe. It is the only extant outbuilding for slave accommodation on the University of South Carolina campus today.

Photograph of razed slave quarters behind First Professors House, circa 1940s
Razed slave quarters behind First Professors House, ca. 1940s, SCL
Photograph of extant slave quarters behind First Professors House, circa 1940s
Extant First Professors House slave quarters, ca. 1940s, SCL

Detail of First Professors House from bird's-eye drawing of Columbia, 1872
Bird’s-eye view of First Professors House, 1872, LOC
Photograph of First Professors House, circa 1870s
First Professors House, ca. 1870s, SCL.
Razed slave quarters can be seen behind the trees on the right.
Photograph of First Professors House, circa 1890
First Professors House, ca. 1890, SCL