First student housing at USC Beaufort campus complete

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comAugust 15, 2012 

Students at the University of South Carolina will get a history lesson when they move into the school's newest dorms in Beaufort this weekend.

The floors of the Grace White House on which they will walk are more than 100 years old, and well-worn in spots. The sinks in the upstairs bathrooms were installed in the late 1930s, when previous owners renovated the space.

The home includes custom storage, such as a cabinet built by Grace White's father and closet bars that pull out for easier access to clothes.

There are even glass doorknobs and antique locks on some of the doors in the home on the corner of Carteret and Duke streets, which was built in the late 1800s.

And the students won't just observe history -- they'll make some, too, as the first inhabitants of on-campus housing at the Historic Beaufort Campus. The house can accommodate as many as 16 students and has been modernized and outfitted with dorm necessities.

Security cameras, emergency telephones, sprinkler systems and key-card access systems have been installed, director of university housing Deonne Whaley said. The kitchen has been fully renovated, too -- complete with cabinet locks to keep other roommates out if need be. Renovations totaled $300,000 and were funded by the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission.

And, of course, there's modern dorm furniture -- bunk beds almost as high as the original crown molding -- and a former sleeping porch that is now a sunny study room.

Whaley said she's thrilled students at the Beaufort campus will get the best of both worlds -- a home-like environment, but a dorm experience.

"Most of our students come to class and go home," Whaley said. "They're on their own or in their small group. This will give them more of a social network."

Emily Yaden, a senior studio art major who lives a few houses down from the new dorms, said she's a bit jealous of the students who will move in Sunday. But, she's looking forward to having more students nearby to get to know.

Yaden researched the home's former owner, Grace White, for a display to let residents know a bit more about their home's history.

White, the first female attorney in Beaufort, graduated from Beaufort High School and George Washington University. She started practicing law in 1937, Yaden said. She'd accept just about anything for payment -- chickens, fish, turnip greens -- for her work.

White lived in the home her father purchased until shortly before her death, in 2010 Yaden said.

The university finalized the purchase of the home a year ago. It cost $427,500, spokeswoman Candace Brasseur said, and was also financed through the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission. Renovations began in January.

An open house to showcase the home at 802 Carteret St. is from 4 to 6 p.m. today.

Ultimately, Whaley said, the goal is for more student housing to be added on the Beaufort campus. Yaden said she would have taken advantage of dorms in her time at USCB, if they had been available.

"I wanted to live here," she said. "But I had a lease, and a house full of furniture and a cat. I wish I could have."

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