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Medical College of the State of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina



Annual announcements for 1880, 1900, 1909 and 1912 are available online, as are the 1910 Flexner Report, and the 1924 Centennial Memorial of the school.  The Charleston Evening Post covered some school events.



Medical College of South Carolina was founded by members of the Medical Society of South Carolina.  Lectures began in November 1824 with seven faculty members and 51 students.  The initial term was for five months—“a longer period of time than any other medical school in our country.”   The 1825 commencement graduated five doctors.


In 1832 a dispute between the faculty and the sponsoring medical society led the faculty to open a competing medical school called Medical College of the State of South Carolina.  By 1839 the M.C.S.S.C. was the only medical school in the state. 


Closed during the Civil War, M.C.S.S.C. reopened in 1865.  The 1880 Announcement shows a student body of 72, five of whom were in the new pharmacy program; Twenty-one M.D.’s graduated from the two-year program that year.  The first female students were admitted in 1897, with the first M.D.’s awarded in 1901.  The 1900 announcement shows that the program had been extended to four years.


When Flexner visited the school in 1909, he found it much larger. Enrollment was listed as 213, taught by a faculty of 34.  While Flexner found it “not without tradition and present dignity,” he concluded that its “meager” equipment “make the effective teaching of any of the laboratory sciences frankly impossible.”   He was also critical of the “nominal” entrance requirements and of the absence of a school dispensary. 


Baird’s Manual shows that four medical fraternities had been chartered: Phi Chi (1906), Kappa Pi (1907) Pi Mu (1908) and Alpha Kappa (1908).


In 1912 M.C.S.S.C.saw its American Medical Association rating fall to Class C—making it a school that required a “complete reorganization” to continue.  At this point, Medical College of the State of South Carolina became a part of the state’s higher education system, ending its history as an independent school.  It is now the Medical University of South Carolina with added schools of pharmacy, nursing and dentistry.

Bricks and Mortar

In 1927 the college moved into a new building at the northeast corner of Queen and Franklin Streets.  Designed by Frederick Wesner, the two-story brick structure featured an Ionic portico with urns.  The building contained a dissecting room, a medical museum, a library, laboratories and lecture halls. 


Following the dispute between the society and the faculty, the faculty and students moved to rooms in the Charleston Theatre at 23 Broad Street.  When the faculty moved back to Green Street, the Broad Street facility became a teaching hospital which served both black and white patients and “those laboring under madness in its various forms.”  Around 1854 it was replaced by Roper Hospital.


The Great Earthquake of 1886 caused extensive damage to the Queen Street building, tearing off the portico.  However, the college continued in the renovated building until 1914, when a new building on Lucus Street was completed.


The Queen Street Building was razed in 1938 to make room for a new public housing development.

Franklin Street (2).JPG

The Queen Street Medical College building before and after the Great Earthquake of 1886.  The sketch (left) is from the Centennial Memoir (  The photo (right) is from  the 1909 announcement (



            School colors: Black and Gold


College Football Data Warehouse lists three games in 1902:  An 83-0 loss to the University of South Carolina, a 5-5 tie with The Charleston Athletic Association, and a loss to Marshall University.  The Marshall game was likely against a Charleston, WV team.  Newspapers add another 1902 game for the medical college—a 34-0 loss to Sumter Military Academy.


The sports program may have been more extensive.  In 1906 the medical college joined College of Charleston, Porter Military Academy, the Citadel, the Y.M.C.A, and Charleston A.A, to form an association to govern local athletics; football and baseball results appeared regularly in 1907 and 1908.  As late as 1910 The Evening post reported that an “unofficial” Medical School team had defeated a team of Marines 10-0.

(Left) During a six-year major league career, James  (Doc) McJames earned an M.D. at Medical College of  State of South Carolina in 1899.  He led the National League in strikeouts in 1897 and posted a 27-15 record in 1899. Image from the 1900 Spalding Baseball Guide

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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