James Monroe was born in Westmoreland Country, Virginia in 1758. He attended the College of William and Mary, fought during the Revolutionary War, and practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Monroe served in the Senate and as Minister to France before being elected President of the United States in 1816, and then re-elected in 1820. He is famously known for the Monroe Doctrine, which helped to limit foreign encroachment and colonization, though it would not be named so until after his death in 1831.[1. “James Monroe,” The White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/jamesmonroe.] In addition to being born near the site of what would eventually become the University, Monroe also had a law office in the City of Fredericksburg, which is currently the site of a museum in his honor.[2. “James Monroe Law Office,” James Monroe Museum & Memorial Library, http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/monroe_law_office.html.]
Originally the Administrative Building, and then Russell Hall, Monroe Hall was finally named as such in honor of President James Monroe.[3. Edward Alvey, Jr., History of Mary Washington College 1908-1972 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1974), 92. ] The building was founded in 1911. It was one of three original buildings built for the State Normal and Industrial School for Women, the first incarnation of the University of Mary Washington. The building currently functions as an academic building, and houses the History, Geography, and Political Science Departments. Notably, murals by retired faculty member Emil Schnellock adorn the building’s walls on the second floor.[4. William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (Fredericksburg, VA: University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008), 44.] Monroe has been renovated multiple times. [5. Ibid, 216.] The most recent had the building reopening for the 2011-2012 academic year.