Dancing Through the Great Depression

Campus Views

campus map USC, 1931
Campus Map, 1931
In 1929 there were only a handful of telephones on campus, cars were still an unusual sight, and there were few paved sidewalks. The campus itself was confined to the blocks between Sumter, Pendleton, Pickens, and Devine streets. There was only one women's dorm, Wade Hampton, constructed in 1924. (It was demolished in 1959 and the current Wade Hampton dorm was constructed on the same site.)

preston college under construction 1939
Preston College under construction,
1939
The Depression put a halt to campus expansion until 1935, when the University received federal funds for a new student union building and additions to Thornwell College. The student union building was altered to become a men's dormitory, Maxcy College. Other federally funded construction projects included an indoor swimming pool behind College Hall (now Longstreet Theatre) and Sims and Preston dormitories, all completed in 1939.


original USC president's house circa 1930
Original President's House
circa 1930

The most ambitious project was a new university library (now McKissick Museum) which was finished in 1940. The original president's house at the head of the Horseshoe was torn down to make way for the new library. The old house was divided into University offices in the 1920s, but it had been in a poor state for many years. USC Registrar John Chase narrowly escaped injury one day when a large chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling onto his desk.

arial view of melton field
Aerial view of Melton Field
Although the annual Carolina-Clemson football game was played at the State Fair, the remainder of Carolina's home games were held right on campus, at Melton Field (currently the site of the Russell House). The field was named for former USC president William D. Melton, who died in office in 1926. A memorial gate of brick and wrought iron graced the entrance.


Carolina Stadium 1935
Carolina Stadium 1935
In 1934 the city of Columbia erected a new stadium with federal funding. A year later, the city transferred ownership of the stadium to the University on the condition that the University assume the remaining debt, and Melton Field was reduced to the status of practice field. The new Carolina Stadium seated 18,000 people and was the largest sports arena in the state at that time. Through the years it has seen many additions and was renamed Williams-Brice Stadium in 1972.

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Columbia Libraries and Collections