Horseshoe wall restoration project set to begin

One of the University of South Carolina’s most iconic structures—the brick wall surrounding the historic Horseshoe—will be restored over several months beginning the week of March 2.

The restoration project will replace thousands of crumbling bricks and decaying mortar with new materials manufactured much like they would have been when the wall was originally constructed in 1836.

The project will begin along the south side of Pendleton Street near Maxcy College. The work will include grinding of the old mortar, cleaning, and general brick repair and reconstruction. The work along Pendleton Street is expected to last through early April and will entail temporary closures of portions of the sidewalk. Restoration work will move to Sumter Street in April, and the final Greene Street section is scheduled for completion in July.

A part of the National Register of Historic Places, the Horseshoe surrounds what was once South Carolina College and was originally conceived to discourage wayward students from venturing into Columbia at night. The wall was constructed by slave laborers using locally sourced bricks. Among other things, it is credited with saving the college during the burning of Columbia in 1865. Significant alterations have been made to the wall over time, including the addition of the Horseshoe gates in 1977.

Some of those changes have caused portions of the wall to deteriorate.

University architects say the wall’s importance to school’s history requires a careful approach to the restoration. For example, the mortar used for the project will be similar to what was used during the wall’s original construction. Unlike modern cements, which are more likely to cause premature pocking and brick decay, mortar used from historic materials is more likely to withstand the test of time.