Historical image of campus

Our History

Founded in 1826, Furman is the oldest private university in South Carolina. The school is named for Richard Furman, a clergyman considered the most important Baptist leader before the Civil War. Furman was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., and became the first president of the Triennial Convention, the first national body of Baptists in America.

Furman front gates and fountain

Furman was founded and is the oldest private university in South Carolina.


The South Carolina Baptist Convention established Furman’s original campus in Edgefield, S.C., but over the next three decades, the campus changed locations three times before arriving in downtown Greenville, S.C., in 1851. Originally founded as a men’s academy and theological institute, the theological school broke away from Furman in 1858 to become the Southern Baptist Seminary.

In 1924, Furman was named one of four collegiate beneficiaries of the Duke Endowment. The Duke Endowment grants sustained Furman through the Great Depression, helped the university coordinate with Greenville Woman’s College in the 1930s, and bolstered the university’s effort to pursue a new campus location. Furman broke ground on its current location north of its home city in 1953. The school would also become independent in 1992, breaking ties with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Today, Furman’s 750-acre campus features an Asian garden, a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin, the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, a Florentine bell tower, a spring-fed lake, 13 miles of paved trails through the woodlands and an 18-hole golf course. It’s not just the school’s beautiful location that makes Furman a great place to learn. Throughout the years, the university has worked to strengthen its residential campus community, rich student life, and rigorous academics.

Get to know Furman through its rich and storied history.