The College of Charleston majestically stands as a reminder of this city’s rich history in the heart of the historic district. This public college founded in 1770 holds the title of oldest college or university in all of South Carolina.
The college was founded by important men in history who included future signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is one of the oldest colleges in the United States, coming in at 13th, and the oldest municipal college in the United States. The Revolution soon held the attention of the founders and the governor and opening of the school was delayed. Classes finally commenced in 1790 and the first class of six students graduated from the College of Charleston in 1794.
This was not to be the last of the problems the college would experience. The College of Charleston was unreliable after the resignation of its first president and it closed for a time in 1811. The situation improved somewhat with the hiring of a new president in 1824 and finally stabilized in 1837 when the city of Charleston City Council took over the school and its finances. In 1864 the school was again forced to close due to the Civil War but resumed classes in 1866.
The historic campus is charming, with large oak trees draped with Spanish moss that is so recognized in the south. Beautiful brick walkways wind their way through the trees. The beautiful historic campus has been used for filming numerous television shows and movies. Buildings from the original campus are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the College has been named a National Historic Landmark.
Even though the college spent much of its time as a small private institution, today it is a public liberal arts school with an enrollment of over 11,000 students.