Ward One: Reconstructing Memory
THE HISTORY: TELLING THE WHOLE STORY
Before the Koger Center, Darla Moore School of Business, Colonial Life Arena and much of the modern University of South Carolina campus, a community known as Ward One, once lived, worked and worshipped. The vibrant Ward One community was in existence for nearly a century; however, their history has largely been overlooked, eclipsed, and forgotten as a result of urban renewal.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government designed an initiative, known as "urban renewal," to expand American cities and eliminate urban blight. Urban renewal policies led to the displacement of what governments viewed as “impoverished communities.” Between 1964 and 1974, the Columbia Housing Authority and the University of South Carolina displaced the Ward One community in order to expand state government and the university. The City justified the expansion arguing that areas of Ward One were poorly maintained, when in fact, much of the circumstances in which people lived derived from neglect in public policy. Many residents of Ward One rented their homes and could do little to halt the loss of their community’s physical structure.
Although most of the structures that people identified with 50 years ago are now gone, the memories of the Ward One community live on as former residents tell their stories and reconstruct the narrative of Columbia’s history. It is our responsibility to listen and to share these stories to document the true, full historical context in which we live.
"I think its important to preserve the buildings, but most important to preserve the memories and the history of the neighborhood."
- Dr. Bobby Donaldson, Associate Professor of History
To learn more about urban renewal, visit