Columbia’s Historical Markers: Columbia College

Current Columbia College Campus | Photo via @columbiacollegesc

March is Women’s History Month and Cola has some history to share on the topic. Columbia was home to one of the oldest female-exclusive college campuses in the US, until 1947  when the first men were admitted to attend night and graduate classes. The location, name, and student demographic have since changed, but the institution remains open today. 

Columbia College, formerly known as Columbia Female College, was originally located off what we know today as Hampton Street. It was purchased in 1854 by the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church + chartered on Dec. 21, 1854. 

The Columbia Female College building was used for many purposes, according to the Columbia City Directory in 1885, including the Nickerson Hotel dating back to when Woodrow Wilson lived in Columbia, Colonia Hotel, and Columbia Bible College. The building was demolished for the parking deck + Baker Building in 1964, according to Historic Columbia

Columbia Female College, shown here in 1885 | Photo via Historic Columbia collection

The all-female school was in session from 1859-1865 and after a temporary closure during the height of the Civil War, the school reopened in 1873. The name officially changed in 1904 to what we know today as Columbia College and was relocated to the present location (1301 Columbia College Dr.). 

Today the college is ranked by US News at No. 47 for the Best Regional Universities South + has a student to faculty ratio of 11:1 with approx. 1,200 male + female students in both undergraduate and graduate courses.

The fountain at the Columbia College campus | Photo via @ColumbiaCollegeSC

Here are some traditions + things to check out on campus. 

🐨 The fountain in front of the Johnnie Cordell Breed Leadership Center for Women is a part of the school’s most unique tradition. When a fellow student gets engaged, it is the friends’ duty to throw them in the fountain.

🐨 In 1954, the Alumnae Association began the Columbia College Doll Collection. Each year, the class dresses a doll to represent the popular styles or something special from that year. The collection is housed in the Alumnae Hall. 

🐨 The annual Ludy Bowl is a flag football game that began in 1955 + is named in honor of Miss Lucille Godbold, a Physical Education instructor for 58 years. “Miss Ludy” was a 1922 Olympic gold medalist and was the first woman to be named to the SC Sports Hall of Fame. 

🐨 Follies are student produced original skits that both faculty and students perform each year in a friendly competition. The first follies were believed to be held in the 1950s.


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