Historical Marker to be Placed Near Site of CSU Founding

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Columbus State University will celebrate next Monday the placement of a permanent marker near the site of its founding, where Columbus College opened almost 51 years ago in the former Shannon Hosiery Mill.

CSU President Tim Mescon will offer brief remarks at the 10 a.m. May 11 ceremony, and the historical marker will be unveiled within yards of the site of the former mill, now the location of Hannan Magnet Academy, 1338 Talbotton Road. The marker represents the final chapter in CSU's 50th anniversary celebration, which began in January 2008.

The university marks another important date in its history this month as the University System of Georgia on May 14, 1958 conditionally accepted Columbus College as a part of the system. Up to that point, the idea of a two-year college had been championed by the local school board (now the Muscogee County School District Board of Education), Chamber of Commerce and other local residents.

CSU registered its first students in the former mill on Sept. 22, 1958, and classes began there a week later. In 1963, the college moved 2.5 miles to the east, to a 157-acre former dairy farm that became its current main campus at the corner of University Avenue and Gentian Boulevard. Four buildings, all still in use, comprised the college's campus then.

Columbus State got valuable help from both the Historic Columbus Foundation and the Historic Chattahoochee Commission in seeking approval for the historical marker, said Dean of Libraries Callie McGinnis, chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee. The marker was erected as part of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission's Historical Marker Program.

The marker's text notes that, upon the former mill reopening as Columbus College, the facility had 15 faculty teaching 265 students in five academic programs in 19 classrooms. Within seven years, Columbus College became a four-year institution and as the college grew, new majors and master's programs were added, and the school officially became Columbus State University in 1996.

Today, nearly 300 faculty teach about 8,000 students in more than 50 undergraduate programs and 35 master's or specialist programs. Combined, about 80 buildings comprise CSU's main campus and the downtown RiverPark campus, not counting the university's Spencer House in Oxford, England.

The Shannon mill was demolished in 1988 to make room for the Muscogee County School District's Hannan school. Faculty, staff and students from the college cleaned more than 20,000 bricks that were salvaged from the mill’s old smokestack, and those were used to line the inner arches of the Whitley Clock Tower, built in 1991 in the center of the CSU main campus.