Furman University – Greenville, South Carolina

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Furman University, founded in 1826, is one of our state’s oldest colleges. The school was named after Reverend Richard Furman, a prominent Baptist minister in Charleston who was responsible for the initial groundwork and establishment of the college. (Reverend Furman originally hailed from New York and had also served the High Hills Baptist Church in Stateburg.)

Furman University

Calvin Kelley, Sr of Mauldin, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The university has had three different homes in South Carolina, its first being in Edgefield where it was founded as an academy and theological institute. In 1851, it became a university and moved its campus to Greenville. Furman’s theological institute broke away from the academy in 1858 and became the Southern Baptist Seminary, which is now located in Kentucky. Furman University merged with Greenville Woman’s College in 1938 and began construction on larger campus north of Greenville in 1953.

Furman University Bell Tower

Blaine Owens of Greenville © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Furman severed its formal ties with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and became an independent university in 1992. Today, Furman offers a wide variety of majors, but it has always been a liberal arts college first and foremost. The university is also known for its exquisite campus. Below is the nineteenth century iron gazebo that adorns the Janie Earle Furman Rose Garden.

Furman Rose Garden

Andy Hunter of Denmark, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The garden is named for Janie Kennedy Earle Furman, who along with her husband, Alester G. Furman Jr., endowed an annual award for meritorious teaching at Furman University in 1969. The rose garden boasts 21 varieties of roses and more than 800 bushes along with the above gazebo and a fountain, seen below. Not only do students get to enjoy the beauty of the roses while walking from the Daniel Dining Hall to class, but the garden is also a popular wedding venue for alumni and others who appreciate the elegant intimacy of the setting.

Garden Fountain Furman

Andy Hunter of Denmark, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This proud university has produced some of our most successful American citizens including two governors, two US Congressmen, 17 Truman Scholars, six Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel Laureate, and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Furman University’s mascot is a knight on a horse. The athletic teams are called the Paladins, which is defined as a “paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion; a strong supporter or defender of a cause.” The nickname was first used by a Greenville sportswriter in the 1930s who used the word “paladin” to describe Furman’s basketball team. The student body voted in 1961 to make the nickname official.

Reflections on Furman University

Photographer Calvin Kelley says of his photo at the top of the page, “This tower has a story behind it that was recently told to me by my dentist. The story is, if you kiss your girl in the tower, she will become your bride.”

This legend seems to bear some truth! Don Lloyd from Marion County remembers spending many nights strolling the Furman campus with his future wife during their high school years in Greenville. He writes: “The lake and bell tower was (and probably still is) the best date spot in Greenville. The lake is incredibly beautiful and always seemed to impress a date. Of course, no visit would be complete without an excursion to the tower. I suppose that my attempts to be romantic were not the real reason she married me. I now know it was the power of the tower.”

Furman alumnae Laura Godfrey says that “in the spring of 2007, my senior year at Furman University, my boyfriend Mike kissed me in the belltower. I am so happy to tell you that we are getting married next summer in Furman’s Daniel Chapel. I guess the story is true!”

If you have a personal experience to back this local legend up, please write us and let us know!

Add your own reflections here.

See more photos of the Furman Bell Tower.

Furman University Info

Address: 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613
Website: http://www2.furman.edu/

Furman University Map

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