Photograph of Rutledge College

Slavery at South Carolina College, 1801–1865:

The Foundations of the University of South Carolina

Rutledge College, 1805


Detail of Rutledge College from 1884 Sanborn Map
Rutledge College, 1884 Sanborn Map, SCL

Rutledge College, historically known as South Building, Old South Building, Old South, or simply South, was the first campus building—completed in 1805. It contained the college chapel, library, chemistry and physics laboratory, and lecture rooms. In 1810, the college hired Jack, a slave, to maintain the laboratory, and in 1815 the college purchased him for $900. In 1817, the college converted the building into student housing. As a tenement, students and slaves would have come into contact: students paid an annual fee for servant hire. By 1859 as many as thirteen slaves were hired each month to clean rooms. The building caught fire in March 1832, and college slaves helped extinguish the flames by climbing onto the roof through the cupola. A catastrophic fire in 1855 destroyed the building. The college almost immediately contracted Ferdinand Connover of Charleston to rebuild it at a cost of $22,450. The building underwent substantial repairs in 1857 after the walls showed signs of deterioration. During the Civil War, the building served as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers, and in 1865–1866, the South Carolina House of Representatives met in the chapel.

Detail of Rutledge College from bird's-eye drawing of Columbia, 1872
Bird’s-eye view of Rutledge College, 1872, LOC
Photograph of Rutledge College, circa 1870
Rutledge College, ca. 1870, SCL
Photograph of Rutledge College, circa 1900
Rutledge College, ca. 1900, SCL