Support Us Button Widget

College of Charleston celebrates its 250th birthday

college of charleston

College of Charleston | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Table of Contents

On this day in 1770, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor William Bull recommended the establishment of a higher education institution in Charleston. As a result, the College of Charleston was chartered just two months later.

Today, in its 250th year, the College of Charleston is holding its first-ever CofC Day. The giving-focused event serves as the launch of a yearlong birthday celebration.

To celebrate the school’s major milestone, we put together a list of fun facts about CofC. (We wanted to give you 250 to say on-theme, but had to cut it down to 15 in order to have it ready to go before the school’s 251st birthday.)

1.The City of Charleston supported CofC from 1837-1949, making it the first municipal college in the nation. It’s also the 13th oldest college in the country.

2. Three of the school’s founders were also signers of the Declaration of Independence – Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton and Edward Rutledge, who was the youngest of all the signers.

3. Berry Residence Hall was built on the site of the Charleston Orphan House, and some claim the ghosts of some of the children who lived there continue to haunt the dormitory today.

4. Originally, the school’s spirit colors were light blue and white. In the early 20th century, the colors were changed to differentiate the school from its athletic rival, The Citadel, whose colors were the same. Some CofC diplomas continue to be adorned with light blue ribbons today.


5. The school’s official mascot was the “Maroons” until the 1970s, when students voted to change it to the Cougars.

6. The Cougar was nameless until the 1980s, when one student took matters into his own hands + started wearing the costume around campus and calling the character Clyde.

7. The foundation of Towell Library was originally part of Revolutionary War barracks.

8. The Charleston Museum – a.k.a. the nation’s first museum – was originally housed in Randolph Hall.

9. The Greek words on the arch at Porter’s Lodge at the Cistern Yard translate to “know thyself.”

10. Scenes from several popular movies were filmed on CofC’s campus – including The Patriot, Dear John and The Notebook.


11. In December, the Empire State Building lit up in maroon + white to honor CofC’s 250th birthday.

12. Women were not admitted into CofC until 1918, and African Americans were not able to enroll until 1967.

13. CofC shut down for two years (1864-66) due to the city being under siege during the Civil War.

14. There’s a granite marker located in the heart of campus dedicated to President Andrew Jackson’s mother, Elizabeth Jackson. Though she died in Charleston, and the marker indicates that she is ‘buried nearby’, no one knows for sure where she’s actually buried.

15. The school famously lacks a football team – but this wasn’t always the case. CofC briefly had a football team in the early 1900s.


16. In 2019, Andrew T. Hsu became the first person of color to serve as the school’s president.


More from CHStoday
A downtown hotel and restaurant is offering The Flower Experience, for guests looking for a day of luxury + new adventures.
Swiftstay offers its members a place to stay for their weekend travel for the price of a cleaning fee.
Hank’s Seafood Restaurant has a fun spin on National Caviar Day
The Holy City is well represented on the world stage at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics — these are some locals to watch.
The annual 10-day celebration of mayo and tomatoes is the best way to kick off tomato season.
Two historic storehouses have been renovated for mixed-use.
At least a dozen celebrities have been spotted around Charleston, check out which A-Listers have come to see what makes Charleston so special.
We’ve got details and a map full of drink deals: We’ll be highlighting the vibrant beverage scene across Charleston, SC from July 22 to July 26, 2024.
The Charleston Police Department will host some fun in Hampton Park with this Pixar classic.
Dive into the past of these iconic bridges.