Created By: Seeking Abraham Project
Under a canopy of oaks sits the historic Furman Rose Garden. Manicured shrubbery guards the precious rose bushes as they line uneven brick paths. Tradition holds that you can't touch the historic rose bushes, but gardeners will cut full blooms and set them atop of the shrubs. If you come across a lonesome rose sitting atop the bushes, feel free to take it home with you.
While your eyes might be drawn towards the rose bushes at eye level, look down at the bricks under your feet. These bricks are rooted deep in Furman’s history. According to Daniel’s Furman University. A History, many of the buildings on the old downtown campus were constructed by “negroes” freed or enslaved (64). Bricks were transported from Furman's old campus in downtown Greenville in stages the early-1960s and, though too brittle for heavy construction, were definitely used in decorative contexts, for sure in the pathways of this garden. So, the bricks on which you are standing were brought from the downtown campus, and were likely formed by slaves and freedmen from the clay Reedy River banks.
It's a good thing these bricks were brought because almost nothing remains of the downtown campus, which sat just above Falls Park on the Reedy River. Despite that campus's beauty and phenomenal location, not much attention was put toward saving it. Following the trend of white flight in 1950’s America, Furman moved its campus to the suburbs, leaving a more congested and integrated urban area. It was debated whether or not to leave certain buildings, like Richard Furman Hall, preserved in the center of town. However, after a fire in 1965, it was decided that the old campus would be completely demolished.
Gardeners work to prune 700 bushes in this one spot, a small portion of the work it takes to keep this huge campus as one of the most beautiful in the nation. With its beauty and splendor, the rose garden motivates us to reflect on the connection of the labor across campus--from the millstones to the bricks to the pruning to the academic work on campus. All were essential to the creation of the Furman we have today.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk