Photograph of History 789 students surveying the wall, 2011

Slavery at South Carolina College, 1801–1865:

The Foundations of the University of South Carolina

The Wall Today

Over several months during the spring of 2011, visitors to the University of South Carolina campus beheld a strange sight: students looking at the wall. Although the university has generally cared well for its historic buildings, it has largely ignored its equally historic wall.

Why spend so much time looking at bricks? By examining brick bonding patterns and changes to the mortar, we get a rough idea of the alterations that have been made to the wall over time. Damage from plant growth and student use—for example, nailing up signs or taking loose bricks—has contributed to deterioration. The completed survey report, which includes prioritized suggestions, was given to the university’s Facilities Department and will serve as a guide to maintain and preserve the wall for the future.

The wall is an integral part of the historic Horseshoe, and it is time that the university and student population start treating it as such. Before the mid-twentieth century, the university campus did not extend far beyond the wall. Students frequently called to their friends to “meet me at the wall” to stand around and chat. As the campus expanded, the wall became more and more invisible. As the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia draws near, past and present University of South Carolina students and the Columbia community should band together to save the wall that saved Carolina.