Erskine Celebrates 175th Anniversary with ErskineFest

Erskine College will be celebrating the 175th anniversary of its founding during ErskineFest, a festival, homecoming and family celebration, which will celebrate Erskine's fascinating history, intellectual achievements and rich cultural heritage. While special events honoring Erskine's founding will be held throughout the month of October, ErskineFest will be held on Sat., Oct. 18, from 12-9 p.m.

"ErskineFest is an opportunity to celebrate an important milestone in the history of one of the Upstate's historic institutions," said Cliff Smith, Erskine's Vice President for Communications. "Erskine holds an important place in the history of higher education in South Carolina."

Established in 1839 by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Erskine College became the first four-year, church-related college in South Carolina. In 1899 Erskine became officially co-ed, well ahead of many colleges and universities. And throughout its 175-year history, Erskine has produced generations of graduates who have gone on to lead and serve South Carolina and the world.

One of the highlights of the festival will be a special screening of "Due West of Ordinary: 175 Years of Erskine," a documentary film by alumnus Will Frampton about the history of Erskine College and Seminary. The 90-minute film will focus on how Erskine has overcome adversity throughout its 175 year history. 

"The story of Erskine is the story of perseverance during challenging times," according to Frampton. "For example, Erskine closed down for five years during the Civil War. Many students died in the war. But the school reopened in 1866, rebuilt itself and eventually flourished. So the story of Erskine is the story of pushing through and overcoming obstacles against all odds."

In addition to the screening, is a full slate of family-friend activities, including games and live music. Not only will there be a barbecue, but also food trucks and Upstate food vendors will be on hand for both lunch and dinner. Alumni will also have the opportunity to participate in an array of activities.

"There's a lot to do and see this Saturday," said Smith. "Climb the observatory tower, which was once home to the oldest America-made observatory telescope (now part of the State Museum's collection). Visit our archives displays and view a replica of a student cabin from the 1850s."

Smith went on to pointed out that the ErskineFest website is a great way for the community to get involved with ErskineFest even if they can't make it to Erskine's campus for the festival. The festival website includes a robust collection of Erskine historical memorabilia. Visitors can browse historic photographs and newspaper clippings that document Erskine throughout its history.

A full schedule of events can be found on ErskineFest's website at Most events are free. Some require advanced registration.

By Josephine McMullen