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Why did USC buy a church and what will it be used for?

It's not a brand new tech center or a multimillion dollar facility that has students on USC's campus excited. Instead, a decades-old church is the focus.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some USC students are buzzing about a new space that's different from any other building on campus.  

Kris Phelps is a Lexington native and now a senior at USC's School of Music. He studies jazz and is excited about the new space soon to open for the jazz program. 

Currently doing class inside the facilities on Assembly Street, he says the limited practice space can get crowded. Now, he is excited to hear the school is investing in a new place for him and classmates.

"We can definitely use that space to fill it up with a lot of instruments equipment and be able to practice whenever we want to." He says he is "super excited to be able to play there, excited to perform and practice there."

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The new space sits directly across the current building at the Green Street Methodist Church. The school has had a long relationship with the church, having concerts and events inside the sanctuary. According to a University spokesperson, "Since 2009, joint community outreach efforts have included hosting school concerts and children’s music lessons in the church, which is located near the school on the corner of Greene and Assembly Streets."

The school says the building was originally purchased by the school in 2020 for $1.1 million and renovations began in August that will total $2.5 million. The music school dean, Tayloe Harding, says the money is being given to the school from USC in addition to some donations. He adds that no extra charges will fall to students as a result. 

He spoke about his plan for the building's future as the headquarters for the school's jazz program-

"the vision of course is to make it a school of music functional space that will allow us to meet space demands that we have...and the jazz program will move, lock stock and barrel over there."

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Rev. Lex McDonald was the pastor at Green Street from 2019-2022. Being part of the early discussions, he said it was quickly apparent that with the church's small congregation and modest budget, it would be difficult to keep the building in operation entirely under their control.

"The building had fallen into a little bit of disrepair, and so now they're very excited about the building being fully renovated."

He adds that there is an agreement between the church and school that church members will still have access to the building and once renovations are complete, Sunday services will take place inside.

Harding says the project will be done in two phases with the first being complete in the spring and the expectation that students could be inside by next fall. 

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