History

Campus 1928 from Professor Spencer

The University of Mary Washington recently celebrated its centennial anniversary. For those hundred years of development, the historic buildings of the university serve as a timeline of the school’s changing social and academic atmosphere. Each building on the Mary Washington campus has a unique history and was named for auspicious individuals in the history of the university and the state of Virginia. This site seeks to educate the community about the developmental narrative of the university and to highlight the contributions of the people who helped Mary Washington become the academic icon is it today. Each university president added their own ambitions and visions for the school to the landscape of campus. Each meticulously planned name for the buildings honors generous benefactors, forward-thinking politicians, and university faculty who made their irreversible mark on the school. The University of Mary Washington is infused with the history of the ages it has witnessed and the extraordinary buildings on campus stand as stalwart monuments.

     The History of the University of Mary Washington’s Fredericksburg Campus 

Steps toward the creation of The State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Fredericksburg began in the year 1908, and the school opened for classes three years later in 1911. [1. William B. Crawley, Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History,1908-2008 (Fredericksburg, VA: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 1-2.] Upon its founding, the school was dubbed The State Normal and Industrial School for Women. [2. Ibid, 1-2.] During the tenure of President Chandler, the school was temporarily renamed the Fredericksburg State Teachers College for 14 years starting in 1924.

The name of the college was changed to Mary Washington College in 1938. [3. Ibid,42.] This title was selected in honor of Mary Ball Washington who in addition to being a long time resident of Fredericksburg was also the mother of the first president of the United States of America, George Washington. [4. Edward Alvey, Jr., History of Mary Washington College 1908-1972(Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1974), 227.] The decision to change the name of the college was prompted by a shift in the academic focus of the college from granting education degrees to offering Bachelor’s degrees in various academic fields. [5. Crawley, 40-41.] During this time, the college transitioned to a women’s liberal arts college and served as a sister school for women to their male counterpart, The University of Virginia. In 1944, the name of the college was expanded to Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia to reflect the close ties Mary Washington College developed with the University of Virginia during the 1940s.[6. Ibid, 53-54.] Mary Washington College became a coeducational college in 1969 and the following year men were finally allowed to attend regular classes.  [7. Ibid, 89-90.] The college finally acquired the title we know it by today in 2004, when it became known as the University of Mary Washington. [8. Ibid, 767-778.]

In 1909 the school’s board purchased a 45.4- acre tract of land in Marye’s Heights for around $8500 and groundbreaking ceremonies for the new college began in December of 1909 and the first cornerstone was laid in 1911. [9. Ibid, 5.] The first two buildings constructed were Willard Hall and Monroe Hall. [10. Ibid, 9.] Although a few more buildings were added to the campus in the decades that followed, the campus did not undergo extensive construction until the Depression ended in the 1930s, whereupon construction for a new dining hall named Secobeck Hall and a Tri-Unit, which eventually consisted of Madison Hall, Custis Hall and Ball Hall began. [11. Ibid, 31.] In 1938, construction on George Washington Hall was underway and in the fall of the following year construction on the E. Lee Trinkle Library began. [12. Ibid, 44-53.] After World War II had come to a close, expansion of the college continued at a rapid pace. In 1946 the college acquired Framer House and Brompton and in 1954 Randolph Hall and Mason Hall opened. [13. Ibid, 56-69.] A new academic building named after former president Morgan Combs opened in 1959. [14. Ibid, 83.]  The need for more dormitories resulted in the construction of Marshall Hall, Bushnell Hall, Thomas Jefferson Hall and Russell Hall in the 1960s. [15. Ibid, 82-83.] In 1969, Goolrick Hall, a center for physical education complete with a pool, dance studios and a gymnasium, opened on the north end of campus. [16. Ibid, 83-84.]

During the 1970s, extensive repairs were made to several of the existing buildings on campus and additional outdoor athletic complexes were also added to the college. [17. Ibid, 212-214.] In the 1980s, the campus continued to evolve and expand. Campus Drive was replaced with Campus Walk and the Woodard Campus Center, was built. [18. Ibid, 368-372.]  Another major construction project in the 1980s was Simpson Library, a replacement for the E. Lee Trinkle Library. [19. Ibid, 372-377.] 1998 marked the opening of the Jepson Science Center, which is the largest academic building on campus. [20. Ibid, 519.]

During the early years of the new millennium, the campus once again found itself under construction. The college remodeled the gym in Goolrick and purchased a set of apartments on William Street. [21. Ibid, 539- 545.] In 2004, Trench Hill was expanded through the creation of a new alumni center. [22. Ibid, 546-547.] One of the most recent additions to the college is Eagle Village and the Eagle Landing apartment complex across U.S. Route 1. Eagle Village is currently in the process of being expanded.[23. “Eagle Village,” Eagle Village, http://www.eaglevillage.com/about (accessed April 1, 2012).] Another addition to the ever expanding campus is the Anderson Center which opened in the fall of 2011 and is located at the northern end of campus. In recent years, Monroe Hall has been extensively refurbished. Additionally, the residence halls Randolph Hall and Mason Hall are in the process of being restored and are scheduled to open for incoming students during the fall of 2012.