The tree-covered, brick sidewalk-lined Horseshoe is the birthplace – and the center – of the 214-year-old University of South Carolina.
Students gather in the Horseshoe for studying, meetings and sunbathing. They string hammocks between the oak trees near the university museum and visitor center. The school’s president lives there.
Ten of the 11 buildings that bound the Horseshoe are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the nation’s first free-standing college library. Robert Mills, designer of the Washington Monument, influenced the design of some of its buildings as well as the Maxcy Monument, named after USC’s first president, in the center of the Horseshoe.
Vistors to the Horseshoe have included Presidents William Taft and Ronald Reagan, then-Sen. John Kennedy (three years before he was elected president) and Pope John Paul II.
The band Hootie and the Blowfish, whose members met while they were students at USC, performed a televised concert in the Horseshoe in 1996. More recently, ESPN has used the Horseshoe to stage broadcasts of its College GameDay show, creating a festival-like atmosphere that draws hundreds of rabid, sign-wielding Gamecock fans.
On an urban campus with buildings sprawled across city blocks, the Horseshoe is the university’s heart and lures students, staff and visitors with its hold on history.