Custis Hall

Exterior of Bushnell Hall

 Namesake

 Custis Hall is named for the wife of Robert E. Lee, Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee.[1. William B. Crawley, Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History,1908-2008 (Fredericksburg, VA: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 33.] Mary Anna Randolph Custis was born on October 1, 1808 to George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis. Robert E. Lee proposed to her in the summer of 1830 combining two prominent family lines.[2. “Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee,” National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/arho/historyculture/mary-lee.htm (accessed February 27, 2012).]  Mary Custis was best for known for her hospitality and poise during her time as First Lady of the White House.  Robert E. Lee’s wife was well read and  helped  educate slaves to ensure they could support themselves if they were freed.[3. “Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee.” National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/arho/historyculture/mary-lee.htm (accessed April 29, 2012.] Mary developed rheumatoid arthritis  early in her life preventing her from  travelling up and down the stairs and performing basic physical motions.[4.  “Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee.” National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/arho/historyculture/mary-lee.htm (accessed April 29, 2012.] The rheumatoid arthritis most likely shortened her life, but she lived until she was 66.[5. “Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee.” National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/arho/historyculture/mary-lee.htm (accessed April 29, 2012.]

Building History

Custis Hall began construction in 1933 along with Madison Hall and Ball.[6. Crawley, 33.] The type of students Custis Hall had housed has evolved as the school did. It is part of the tri-unit of residence halls that includes Ball and Madison Hall and has existed as an all-male, all-female, and co-ed dorm throughout its history.[7. “Custis Hall.” University of Mary Washington Residence Life. http://students.umw.edu/residencelife/housing-and-operations/first-year-residence-halls/custis-hall/ (accessed  April 29, 2012).] The construction of the tri-unit was particularly momentous in the school’s history, because it nearly doubled the student housing capacity.[8. Crawley, 33-34.] Currently, Custis is home to 42 upperclassmen and women.[9. “Custis Hall.” University of Mary Washington Residence Life. http://students.umw.edu/residencelife/housing-and-operations/first-year-residence-halls/custis-hall/ (accessed  April 29, 2012).] Today, it is located at the center of campus.

Custis Hall, March 2012

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