On August 21, incoming freshmen at College of Charleston will pass under the arch of Porter’s Lodge (pictured here circa 1975) for convocation, an annual tradition welcoming new students to the campus.
The landmark was constructed in 1850 by E.B. White, the same architect behind the U.S. Custom House on Market Street, as part of a redesign project initiated by the city that included creating housing for the school’s custodian, also known as a “porter.” This decision came after the local government agreed to help finance the institution, making it the first municipal college in the country. The earliest recorded porter, John Cahill, took up residence here in 1854, bringing with him a cow, chickens, and goats that lived and grazed in the Cistern, as animals would for the next 50 years. When Union troops moved onto the peninsula in 1865, Cahill was the only staff member to remain on campus; he immediately requested protection for the college from Union commandant Colonel Stewart Woodford, who agreed and even stationed a guard in the area to ensure that no soldiers entered the grounds without special permission. More than a century and a half later, the building houses two faculty offices and serves as an iconic piece of history and tradition.
Photograph courtesy of College of Charleston Special Collections Archive