Lakeside Housing: Reminders of the Zoo

Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk

Lakeside Housing: Reminders of the Zoo

Greenville, South Carolina 29617, United States

Created By: Brandon Inabinet


Today, Lakeside serves as a co-ed dormitory, alternating boys’ and girls’ halls. It once served as the only girls’ residential building on campus. In fact, female and male students were once prohibited from living in the same building. And, our present-day student body was separated into different schools; Furman University enrolled men and Greenville Woman’s College enrolled women. These two colleges merged in 1933 to become what we know as Furman University today, but before this, they existed as very different institutions—with different administrations, coursework, and even rules.

Refer to the map of downtown campus posted here to get a full understanding of the campus' layout. The physical distance and strikingly different environments of the schools led to their defining nicknames, the “hill” and the “zoo.” The Woman’s College’s nickname, the “zoo” originated from a tradition, in which students would hold receptions after football games. In October of 1919, after a game against Wofford, they threw a reception with the theme, “Tour Around the World,” with an Egyptian palmist, a magic pond, and a visit to the Bronx Zoo. Dressing in animal costumes, the girls sealed their fate as “the zoo.”

As you look back today, you might think about norms of gender and sexuality in the time. The women of the "zoo" had strict rules: (1) they had to remain on campus unless given explicit permission from the principal, (2) they could not attend public parties nor receive visitors, and lastly, (3) all correspondence except with parents was monitored. Meanwhile, men were allowed to "roam" more freely, and without being monitored. Certainly, from today's vantage point, most of us would want to be on the "hill" (the men's campus) rather than in the "zoo."

But at thes same time, the Greenville Woman's College was more open to changing norms. The seal above the doors of Lakeside Housing represents the fight for equality of education. Despite being "kept," women faced significant odds compared to their male counterparts to lead lives of meaning and prominence. “Non Sine Pulvere” is a shortened version of the College’s motto, “Palma Non Sine Pulvere,” a Latin phrase that translates “Rewards not without Dirt.” Beloved professor and feminist Mary Judson chose this motto, channeling the reference to Roman athletes who would come to an athletic contest with such a big reputation that no one would challenge them, thus never facing “dirt" or gritty, tiring work. Mary Judson argued that for students at the Woman’s College, getting ahead only came with labor and struggle.

Today this motto takes on new meanings, beyond the courage to educate. When Furman is discovering its past in slavery and field labor (especially when the campus was in Winnsboro in the 1830s and 1840s), we can think about how unnamed labor and the labor of donors contributes to the university. Today, we can also consider staff and the larger operational systems that go into maintaining the university. It takes a big community of support to make education happen, and a lot of hard work!

Suggested Reading:

Academy and College: The History of the Woman's College of Furman University

Suggested Visit:

Also visit M. Judson Bookstore at 130 S. Main Street in downtown Greenville. Murals there depict the campus, quotations, and subjects taught by Mary Judson. Mary donated her life savings to start the Women's College library and started the first literary societies for women across the state. You can also buy Furman merchandise there not available at the campus bookstore.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk


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