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Furman's Legacy of Slavery: A Digital Exhibition: Founding a University--Moving to Greenville

Moving to Greenville

After thirty years worth of moves, Furman finally arrived in downtown Greenville in 1851, settling on a land purchased a year prior. Classes began in January, 1852. It would take 40 years for the institution to become an independent University in 1992, after severing ties with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, a denomination known to have had great influence in shaping Southern racial attitudes and pro-slavery ideologies.

Richard Furman Hall and Bell Tower

Photograph of Richard Furman Hall and the bell tower. Completed in 1854 on the Furman old campus in downtown Greenville, S.C., the building was originally known as the Main Building or 'Old Main.' It was renamed Richard Furman Hall in 1921. Built, in part, utilizing slave labor, after the trustees voted in 1850 to move the school from Winnsboro, S.C., to Greenville, S.C.

Look closer
Enslaved Labor to Build Greenville's Downtown Campus

Through the discoveries made by the Task Force on Slavery and Justice, we have learned of instances where enslaved labor was used for the constructions of the Greenville campus through transactions between contractors and the Furman Building Committee. In the section "Constructing a Campus" of this exhibition, you can take a closer look at construction documents that indicate the use of "boys for work on building" or "negroes in making mortar." Such documents, however, do not specify if those "boys" or "negroes" were enslaved laborers, but we can assume that the conditions of their employment were unjust. For more details, please refer to Andrew Teye's article, "Slave Labor Discoveries at Furman's Downtown Campus".

Breaking Ground on the Current Campus Location

In 1953, Furman University would make its final move and break ground on its current location. According to the Seeking Abraham Report, the move was in great part to the menacing growth of the Black population in the Greenville area. [find citation] address