Friday, October 14, 2016

William and Mary: A school rich in history ... and Georgian, Anglo-Dutch architecture

I knew the the College of William and Mary was rich in history as I approached it from Colonial Williamsburg, Va., on Sept. 28. Founded in 1693, it is the second oldest institution of higher education in the country (only Harvard is older), and three of our early presidents (Jefferson, Monroe and Tyler) and four U.S. Supreme Court justices, including John Marshall, schooled there.

What I did not appreciate was the expanse of the campus. I did not have a campus map when I roamed to shoot pictures, and I learned later after returning to my lodging accommodations that evening that I had missed perhaps the most scenic portions because I neglected to look beyond a dense wall of trees near Crim Dell Bridge.

In the blitz of trying to catch everything, I was fooled by a dense line of trees along Crim Dell Bridge, beyond which were important facilities I missed -- including Earl Gregg Swem Library, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, Muscarelle Museum of Art, Busch Field and Matoaka Lake, to name just a few.

I guess I should heed the "glass half-full" message and illustration on a "Life Is Good" T-shirt I picked up on the trip ... and be pleased with all the images I was able to snag on the east side of campus. That begins with the Wren Building, the image leading off the post, which opened in 1699 and is the oldest academic building in the United States. Back then, the building invariably encompassed quarters for lodging, classrooms, the library, a dining hall and a chapel. It is still used for classes,

The west side of Wren Hall you see in the lead-off photo faces the campus mall, referred to as the Sunken Garden. The first images below are three other shots, starting with the back side -- the one I saw first as I approached from the east. Wren Hall is one-third of the building triad that constitutes the school's "ancient campus," structures built in the 1700s. The two others in the triad are the Brafferton and the President's House.

To me, the second half of the Sunken Garden (right) moniker is curious. The attraction certainly is distinguished, and the mall's level is below that of the walks and buildings surrounding it (indeed, you must climb and descend stairs to enter and leave it). But there is no "garden" in the traditional sense; it is an open meadow of lawn and brick walking paths, no tress, bushes or benches to sit on, although there are plenty of benches along the elevated paths surrounding it. That is what makes it unusual, I guess.

The campus is packed with orange brick structures in Georgian and Anglo-Dutch architecture, and most of the buildings that are described as part of "old campus" extend immediately west of Wren and were built in the 1920s and '30s. Buildings erected from 1950 to 1980 -- west and north of old campus -- are referred to as "new campus," but nevertheless were constructed with the traditional orange brick. The newest construction I saw on campus were the Sadler Center student union (dominated by a rounded orange brick facade), the all-glass entrance to the Cohen Career Center (which is flanked by orange brick wings) and Zable Stadium (an orange brick facade).

Photo geek stuff: I shot all of my images on the campus with a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I bracketed my shots for three exposures of each scene, melding them into one using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. As always, I used my shutter speed as the exposure variable for the bracketing. My aperture was set at f/8, and I had varying degrees of sunlight due to partly cloudy skies, so ISOs ranged from 160 to 500.

To see a full gallery of my shots from the College of William and Mary, visit my site at As always, to view a larger and sharper version of a photo in a post, click on the picture. This is especially important if you access the post from a mobile device.

Above is the back (east) side of the Wren Building, with detail shots (next two below) of the cannon (on the top step of the entrance) and clock and cupola on top of the building. For two years while attending William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson lived on the third floor of the Wren Building, and his room looked out of this side of the building.

Above and below: Two scenes on the walkways along the Sunken Garden. 

Above and next three below: I'm sharing three views of a most unusual tree I came across outside Jefferson Hall. I would not be surprised if this is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, tree on campus, but I don't know for sure. What I was surprised to see was a cooking grill (third photo below) in such close proxmity to the tree.

Above: One of the prettiest scenes I came across on campus.

Above: There are lots of bicycles and bike racks on college campuses, so I try to find a new or different way to photograph them. This was my stab at College of William and Mary. 

Busts of three members of the Tyler family and positioned on a plaza adjacent to the Tyler Family Garden, a modest development outside James Blair Hall, which houses the school's history department. The bronze busts feature three generations of Tylers who were intricate to the institution -- Lyon Gardiner Tyler, the school's 17th president; his father, John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States who served as rector and chancellor of the school; and John Tyler Sr., the president's father who served as a judge and governor of the Virginia Commonwealth.  

Another favorite scene on campus (above), looking toward what I remember as Blow Memorial Hall. Nearby is the circular garden (below). 

Above and below: Examples of walking path patterns on campus.

Above and below: Different views of Barrett Hall, an unusual, V-shaped residential structure. Detail shots in the second and third photos below feature a lamp and rocking chair found along the long covered porch area on this side of the structure.  

Above: Many of the residence halls are connected with covered walkways that look like this. 

 Above: Another nice landscape scene I came across. 

Above: An obelisk in a small, bricked-off cemetery on campus.

Above and next three below: Findings while strolling down Richmond Road, which roughly serves as the north border of campus. The front side of Blow Memorial Hall, the home of various student services, is in the third photo below. By the time I got here, ominous clouds moved it, and I decided it was time to head back. I had quite a walk ahead of me to reach my car at the east end of Colonial Williamsburg. I was fortunate; I got to the car just before the clouds opened up.  

Above: Using one of the many arched openings to frame another landscape. 

The all-glass entrance to Cohen Career Center (above) along with one of its bricked wings (to the right), still more bicycles, and a partial look (far left) at the rounded facade of the Sadler Center. In the first photo below, you get a better look at the Sadler Center as taken from the outdoor dining area (second photo below).  Near Sadler's main entrance stands the "wish tree" (third photo below). 

Above is a side cut of Zable Stadium, where the Tribe plays its football games. I could not get inside, but I did squeeze my camera inside an opening of an iron gate to grab the shot below. 

Above: My return walk to Colonial Williamsburg, where I was parked, began here, near Crim Dell Bridge, thinking I'd seen the whole (or most of) the campus. Alas, to the right, behind a layer of trees, was the western-most area of campus, including the library, art museum and Matoaka Lake. 

Above and below: Many statues and institutional art are sprinkled throughout the campus. These include Rev. James Blair (above), the college's first president, and alumnus James Monroe (below), the fifth U.S. president. 

Below, a marker explains an annual tradition of the graduating class to walk across campus, east to west beginning at the Wren Building, in a show of togetherness. Each class gets a stone entry (above) on the walk along the Sunken Garden promenade. 

No comments:

Post a Comment