Image by Steele Burrow ’13
I was just looking through my Facebook feed when I saw this picture of my friend Freddy snowboarding on the Colonnade. I was immediately struck by the image and couldn’t wait until tomorrow to post it for you all because it combines so much of what I love about W&L. The four seasons and the occasional (much-needed) snow day. The gorgeous campus and the historic Colonnade buildings. Student initiative, seen in a makeshift ramp ski’s to take full advantage of every inch of fleeting snow. The sense of community and the friendships that are on display. The amazing talents of my peers like Steele Burrow, the photographer of this image and the President of our Executive Committee.
In this image I see the past and present of W&L, as well its the endless potential and bright future, and I see what makes this school special. Maybe I am still a bit giddy about a few days off of school, or maybe, although a bit sappy, I am not the only one who feels that way about this image or W&L.
Artist’s rendering of Center for Global Learning at W&L
While we students are very proud of our campus, there is generally one building that we avoid whenever possible is dreaded DuPont. I know this blog is meant to sell you on W&L (as if that were a difficult task) but even our fantastic campus in beautiful Lexington is not perfect. Luckily for us, however, change has been sweeping through due to our Capital Campaign that has funded new programs, increased scholarships, brought new technology to campus, endowed professorships, and renovated many buildings on campus. The Colonnade renovation has passed the halfway point as Washington Hall was unveiled in February, and after Tucker is finished in a few years, attention will be turned to DuPont at the end of Stemmons Plaza.
Formerly the arts building, DuPont is now home to classrooms for an assortment of courses, often in the humanities. In the future, it will become home to the Center for Global Learning on campus, creating a place on campus to study the ever-increasing globalization we live among. Although I am sad I won’t get to study in this new building before graduation, it is so exciting to see the plans underway to really modernize W&L. Check out this news release regarding a pretty large donation to the fund, and to find out more about the Center of Global Learning.
I’ve been dying to get into Washington Hall since I got to W&L last fall. The middle hall on the Colonnade, it houses the President’s office as well as parts of a few academic departments. It had been undergoing renovation for about two years and has just recently been opened, although there are a few finishing touches to be added in the entryway. I had almost gotten used to the maroon construction walls, but I’m really interested in our history and I’m excited that part of our architectural history is with us again.
The Colonnade renovation is now 60% complete: Robinson (math) and Tucker (languages) Halls have yet to go under the knife. This is such an important project because it increases accessibility and brings out the functional characteristics as well as the beauty of some of our major classroom buildings. I spoke to one of my advisors, Professor DeLaney, about the earlier renovations to Newcomb and Payne Halls, and he felt that they preserved the buildings’ character as well as made them more usable.
Having spent much time in Robinson and Tucker, I am so excited to see those buildings renovated in the coming years. Altogether I’m glad W&L is willing to put time, effort, and money into our historic buildings and I hope they, like our school, continue to last far into the future.
The Colonnade is one of the icons of Washington and Lee. The stretch of 5 historic halls of red brick and white pillars all tied together in perfect symmetry is where most students take courses during their time at W&L. The history of the Colonnade begins with Washington Hall, found smack-dab in the center. The design is after classical architecture with the huge white pillars. This one building used to hold classrooms, offices, dorm rooms, and a chapel. Lyceum Hall, known today as Payne Hall, was added as our science center, and as the school grew, Robinson Hall was added as a dorm to allow more students to attend what was then called Washington College. Newcomb and Tucker Halls were added later as the school continued to grow. It took about a century of renovations and reconstructions for the Colonnade to be structured and designed to be the perfect symmetrical beauty that it is today. And yet, the Colonnade is still under construction today.
The last time the Colonnade was renovated was in 1935, so into the 21st Century, we go! Starting from the left, renovations have been completed in Newcomb and Payne Halls where the insides have been completely refurbished with all new classrooms and offices. Classrooms have been decked out with with all new conference tables and comfy chairs for classes to have lively discussions. But the most exciting part about these renovations, more than likely, is the new addition of air conditioning. The fence has come down in front of Payne Hall and a new one has gone up in front of Washington, the next building on the job. The Colonnade should be finished within the next 3 years, finishing with Tucker Hall. Until then, students will have to continue to walk to class with the beating and buzzing of hammers and saws and enjoy the newly renovated buildings.
The city of Lexington still buzzes with excitement even after many of the students have left town for the summer to embark on adventures in internships, visiting family, and fun in the sun. A handful of my peers are still hanging out in front of the Colonnade during their lunch breaks and in the evening, having stayed on campus for the summer to work or do research with professors. It’s calm, but students and faculty alike get together to go to outdoor concerts in town, the quaint drive-in movie theater down the road, and (most importantly) the summer ice-cream socials every Friday at the Commons.
During the year, I am so focused on my classes, friends, and living in the dorms that I almost forget that another world exists outside of our beautiful campus. This summer has given me the chance to explore the (extremely large number of) historical sites in the area, check out the local attractions, and enjoy the local cuisine in lieu of my usual meals at D-hall. Without a doubt, a summer in Lex Vegas is a kind of paradise in itself.
I play varsity field hockey here at Washington and Lee, and our turf field is uphill from the football stadium. From our elevated height, we have an unbelievable view of the football field, the law school, and beyond that, the hazy mountains, but what is truly inspiring is the statue of George Washington that sits atop Washington Hall. The statute just barely peeks up above the trees so that I can see it when I’m on the field.
I remember when I went on a tour at W&L as a prospective student and my tour guide said that there was an old legend about that statute on top of Washington Hall: the story goes that the Union Army came through Lexington during the Civil War in order to sack VMI. A couple of Union soldiers mistook the statue of George Washington for Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and began to throw rocks at it. Another soldier, who was familiar with the university, approached them and asked what they were doing. The uninformed men responded that they were trying to knock Jeff Davis off of his perch. ”That’s not Jefferson Davis–you’re throwing rocks at the father of our country!” the soldier told them, and the shenanigans stopped right there.
This story is one of my favorites of the many great W&L anecdotes. The view of that statue over the trees while I play field hockey is not only incredibly picturesque, but it also really inspires me. It reminds me of how truly lucky I feel to be a part of this amazing community with so much background and historical significance. And it reminds me to play like a General!
One of my favorite places on campus is the colonnade. The view of Lee Chapel with quaint Lexington and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background belongs on a postcard. Not only is the grandeur of the white columns and red brick academic buildings great, but the colonnade is also one of the best places to observe the speaking tradition in action. Never have I walked through without receiving a smile or “hi” from each person I pass. And the green lawn makes a perfect study spot! Just last Sunday, since the weather was beautiful, three friends and I had lunch on the colonnade and then studied while laying out on our beach towels. Such a place truly is something special!