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atop the central building of the colonnade at Washington and Lee
University, a wooden statue of George Washington gazes toward
Lee Chapel, the burial place of Robert E. Lee. Both men figured
prominently in the university that bears their names.
1796, Washington saved the school, then known as Liberty Hall
Academy, from possible oblivion through a gift of $50,000 worth
of James River Canal stock. The schools name was changed
to Washington Academy in 1798 and then Washington College in 1813.
college became nearly destitute again after the Civil War. During
that war, the three buildings of the neoclassic-style colonnade
(built between 1823 and 1842) sustained considerable damage.
down many more lucrative offers, former Confederate commander
Robert E. Lee agreed to serve as the college president in 1865.
By the time of his death in 1870, Lee had repaired and revitalized
the college, inaugurating the nations first courses in commerce
and journalism. In 1871, the institution became Washington and
Washington and Lee University is a small, private liberal arts
college of about 2,000 students, including 360 in the law school.
The colonnade with its crisp white columns, piers and entablatures
serves as a constant reminder of the universitys
proud heritage. Washington and Lee University was designated a
national historic landmark in 1972.
© 1997 Terry White, Drawing © 1997 Bill Harrah.