The History of Limestone College

Many Extended Campus students will only visit the Limestone College main campus when they come for their graduation. Once they visit, they realize that what they will call their alma mater is a beautiful, historic campus. We’ve included a brief history of this 172-year old institution to let you know what a special place it is.

The Limestone College campus is a unique landscape of history and progress. The college was established in 1845 as the first women's college in South Carolina and one of the first in the United States In the early 1900s, when young men from the local area sought higher education, but could not afford to attend distant universities, Limestone admitted them as daytime commuting students.

In the 1970s, when most colleges and universities had no interest in educating working adults, Limestone established the Block Program, one of the pioneer programs for non-traditional students. The Block Program allowed students to complete their bachelor’s degrees entirely through evening classes, using a novel one course-at-a-time accelerated format. In the mid-1990s, through the establishment of the Virtual Campus, Limestone emerged as a national leader in applying computer technology to teach students who could not utilize traditional classroom settings. In 2005 the Block Program and the Virtual Campus were combined into the Extended Campus Program. Providing higher education access to those needing it the most has been a proud theme throughout the history of Limestone College. Limestone’s main campus is located in Gaffney, nestled among the rolling hills in the Piedmont region of the state. Limestone also offers its Extended Campus Classroom Program at eight sites throughout South Carolina. Today, Limestone is truly a statewide college.

The institution that became Limestone College was founded by Dr. Thomas Curtis and his son, Dr. William Curtis, distinguished Baptist ministers and scholars who were born in England and immigrated to the United States in 1833. In 1845 Dr. Thomas Curtis was able to fulfill his dream of establishing an institution of higher learning for young women by purchasing a magnificent building at Limestone Springs, which had been constructed in the 1830s as a resort hotel. The village of Limestone Springs, now a part of Gaffney, had developed adjacent to a mineral water springs, which attracted families from the Midlands and Lowcountry who wished to avail themselves of the supposed medicinal value of the spring water and avoid the oppressive summer heat of their home regions. On November 6, 1845, 67 young women began their classes at Limestone. In 1898 it became Limestone College.

Male commuting students had been allowed on campus in the early 20th century, but there were no residence halls for men until the late 1960s when Limestone became a coeducational, liberal arts college. With desegregation occurring throughout the nation, African American students were admitted to the college for the first time. In recent years, Limestone has been cited for the diversity of its student body.

Dr. Walt Griffin became president of Limestone College in 1992, at a time when the institution was experiencing dwindling enrollment, major financial deficits, and deteriorating buildings. However, Limestone not only recovered from the hard times of the 1980s, but has flourished during the 24 years of Dr. Griffin’s presidency and is now enjoying an era of growth, stability, and renewal. Day Program enrollment has increased each year and is now more than 1,200. The Extended Campus enrollment has tripled, aided by the establishment in 1996 of the Virtual Campus Internet Program. With a total enrollment approaching 3,500, Limestone is one of the largest private colleges in South Carolina.