Thursday, January 03, 2019
There’s a reason Spartanburg is known as a College Town. With more than 15,000 college students countywide, Spartanburg County is home to seven unique colleges and universities, each equipping their respective students with the skillsets they need to succeed after leaving school. Converse College, Sherman College of Chiropractic, Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg Methodist College, the University of South Carolina Upstate, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and Wofford College all call Spartanburg home.
College visits are normally a whirlwind of meetings and group tours where you learn about historic campus buildings and figure out where the dining halls are, but the very best college visits involve a trek beyond campus, too. Here’s a taste of what students and alums love about their Spartanburg alma maters, and some of the best and coolest attractions near campus.
Academics come first, but for students and families looking to learn more about the area, getting out and seeing what Spartanburg County has to offer can be a game-changer. Book a hotel, set up an itinerary and come visit!
Founded in 1889, Converse is a liberal arts women’s college that offers something for everyone. Art lovers are encouraged to explore the breathtaking beauty of this historic campus, glittered with exquisite bronze statues of notable women. The Milliken Art Gallery features glass walls on two sides, providing a unique exhibit space with visual access to exhibitions 24 hours a day. Throughout the year, the gallery is filled with the work of a wide variety of professional artists and Converse students.
For those with a penchant for performance, the Petrie School of Music and the Converse Theatre and Dance programs present an array of entertainment, from opera and Shakespeare to musical theatre and experimental black box productions. (Fun fact: Hazel B. Abbott Theater, located in Wilson Hall, is rumored to be haunted by its namesake.)
Not far from Converse is the arts hub of Spartanburg, the Chapman Cultural Center, sitting at the heart of the Downtown Cultural Arts District. The Cultural District hosts indoor and outdoor live performances, houses 38 public art displays, 64 studios and workshops and hosts 1,335 events and festivals open to the public.
Converse is also a stone’s throw from Barnet Park, with its 2-mile paved walking trail, picnic pavilion, original sculptures and Zimmerli Amphitheater. During the summer, Barnet Park hosts the City of Spartanburg’s Independence Day celebration, Red, White & Boom!
Tucked just north of USC Upstate’s campus near Boiling Springs is the Sherman College of Chiropractic, the only college of chiropractic in the Carolinas. Sherman’s mission is to educate and prepare students for chiropractic careers through the philosophy of chiropractic and basic and clinical science.
Sherman’s campus is in the midst of a construction phase, set to bring a new student center to campus, the first new building at Sherman in 20 years. The Drs. Thom and Betty Gelardi Student Center, named for the college’s founder, will be a new gateway to campus, providing function and form as the college’s main classroom and office buildings are renovated.
Sherman is also home to a dedicated Chiropractic Health Center, a teaching clinic for students on-campus. Each student interns at the health center before graduation, allowing them to work in a supervised, real-world environment.
Spartanburg Community College is Spartanburg’s technical college, with a reach into neighboring Cherokee and Union counties. SCC’s main campus sits just off Interstate Business 85, and while it’s not a “traditional” college campus, SCC offers students many of the same amenities other colleges have with classroom and dining buildings and an open courtyard.
The college’s Tyger River Campus is a designated Enterprise Campus Authority, housing the Spark Center SC, assisting companies starting or relocating in the Upstate before they secure a permanent location.
Visitors to SCC’s Downtown Campus can witness how the college gave new life to the historic Evans Academic Building on East Kenney Street. The 1920s building – once home to Spartanburg High School – now houses SCC’s School of Business and provides students an up-close look at life in Downtown Spartanburg.
SMC is the only independent, regionally accredited, residential two-year college in South Carolina and soon, SMC will begin offering four-year degrees. This college began in 1911 as the Textile Industrial Institute, the first cooperative education program in the country, serving people working in the area cotton mills one week in school, one week on the job. Its beautiful granite buildings are made of stone quarried from the area. This college is the subject of the book “Common Ties,” published by Hub City Press.
The college’s athletic teams have won numerous regional, divisional, and national titles – most notably their baseball team, which boasts a laundry list of Major League Baseball draft picks – so stop by and watch the Pioneers on their home turf.
Nestled on the west side of Spartanburg, SMC sits close to the popular Westgate Mall and the plethora of shopping surrounding it. As the college’s website puts it, “no matter what you’re looking for, it’s only a few minutes away from campus.”
USC Upstate is a public, accredited, four-year school in the University of South Carolina system, and is home to a myriad of fantastic performance groups spanning all musical genres, including the Commercial Music Combo, Gospel Choir, Jazz Combo, and the Upstate Vocal Ensemble. Visitors can also treat themselves to the theatrical stylings of the Shoestring Players, who present several major productions each year, plus smaller presentations and original revues.
Nature lovers – and those looking for a little relaxation – can appreciate the serene beauty of the 12-Acre Susan Jacobs Arboretum, which features a 300-seat amphitheater, lighted walkways, indigenous foliage, and a tranquil creek.
In addition to its main campus, which sits a short drive north of Downtown Spartanburg, USC Upstate is also home to Downtown Spartanburg’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, affectionately known as “The George.” Those with entrepreneurial aspirations can visit The George, a modern facility featuring a stock trading lab where students make real-time stock trading calls based on momentum, news, and overall current-day stock market action. The George also houses the GreenHouse Business Incubator, where student-led and other startup businesses in Spartanburg can get off the ground.
This private osteopathic medical school has been named one of the top 10 most beautiful medical schools in the country. The beautifully preserved campus offers visitors a half-mile walking track and a scenic pond, as well as a 182-foot smoke stack which harkens back to the property’s historical significance as the location of the original Spartan Mills textile factory. It’s worth the time to tour this Spartanburg landmark turned state-of-the-art medical education institution.
VCOM is in the city’s Northside, which has seen a major rejuvenation effort take hold in recent years. The Hub City Farmers Market brings fresh foods and other handmade products to the area each Saturday for most of the year, and the new Butterfly Creek & Greenway has brought a new greenspace to the area that connects the Northside with other trails running through Spartanburg.
Less than two miles from Converse sits Wofford College. A walking tour of campus reveals a gorgeous mix of historical buildings like Old Main and newly developed student hubs like The Village. Visitors can also enjoy the dozens of innovative sculptures that adorn the campus and check out Wofford’s World Film Series, which is designed to encourage “intellectual curiosity and aesthetic sensitivity.”
Along Church Street in front of the Wofford Campus is Spartanburg’s chief event hub, Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, home to everything from concerts and performances to professional wrestling events and conventions. SMA, since opening in 1951, has hosted everyone from Taylor Swift to Jerry Seinfeld to Disney Live performances, giving the arena a unique historical aura.
NCAA Division I sports fans know that the Southern Conference-winning Terriers regularly face off against some of the biggest teams in the country, so grab your black and gold gear and take in a football game at Gibbs Stadium or the newly-constructed Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, home of the Terriers basketball team.
Gibbs Stadium has hosted the Carolina Panthers Training Camp each summer for more than two decades, cementing the team’s status as the team of the Carolinas. Wofford insiders claim that Terrier baseball games are best enjoyed from the comfy rocking chairs at Russell C. King Field.
As you pack your cars and hit the road for the all-important college visit, mark your map for Spartanburg and see all that this true college town has to offer.