Founded in 1908 as Fredericksburg State Normal and Industrial School, the institution was renamed Fredericksburg State Teachers College, and then, in 1935, Mary Washington
A campus tour logically begins in the front of the first building, Monroe Hall (
FR69.1) (1909–1911, Charles M. Robinson, with Philip M. Stern and Charles K. Bryant), which housed all of the school's original academic activities. Behind the giant-order Ionic portico, the interior contains portions of a mural (c. 1920), reputedly painted by students, which illustrates Virginia history. Willard Hall (
FR69.2) (1909–1911, Robinson, Stern and Bryant; 1911 addition, Robinson), to the north, was properly subservient and served as a dormitory. All evidence points to Robinson, who was the leading school architect in the state, as the principal designer for these buildings, since the next structure on the south side of Monroe, Virginia Hall (
FR69.3) (1914, Robinson; 1934–1935, addition, John Binford Walford), is by him alone. Virginia Hall completed the third side of the enclosure, making a central green that is known as Normal Hill (the paving and fountain are 1980s additions). When Robinson's health failed, his associate John Binford Walford, took charge of the work; he remained as campus architect until his death in 1956. Seacobeck Dining Hall (
FR69.4) (1928, Robinson
Chandler Hall ( FR69.5) (1928, Robinson with Walford) began a new circle. Ball, Custis, and Madison halls ( FR69.6, FR69.7, FR69.8) (1934–1935, Walford) and then, finally, Ann Carter Lee Hall ( FR69.9) (1951–1953, Walford and Wright) completed this new cluster, named Ball Circle, albeit much more loosely grouped than the older one. The building on the top of the ridge, Lee Hall, the administrative and student services structure, received a more imposing facade; a broad podium supports eight Ionic columns in antis, and the wings are pushed forward. Tucked into a ravine behind Lee Hall is the Amphitheater ( FR69.10) (1924, attributed to Robinson). The pattern of a ridgetop axis and a loosely defined circle continues with the next group to the south, E. Lee Trinkle Library ( FR69.11) (1940–1942, Walford) (now a classroom building), with wings flanking a domed central section recalling the original University of Virginia library. Across and down the hill is Westmoreland Hall ( FR69.12) (1938, Walford). The next structure, George Washington Hall ( FR69.13) (1938–1939, Walford), the new administrative building, reverses the pattern by placing a dominant structure on the west side of the ridge; the reason is that Walford placed a new entrance drive from College Avenue to the immediate south of Washington Hall and designed the entrance gates and brick walls which enclose the campus (1938).
At the opposite end, or north side of Normal Hill, the Fine Arts Center, comprising Jessie Ball du Pont, Pollard, and Melchers halls ( FR69.14, FR69.15, FR69.16) (1951–1953, Walford and Wright) marks a shift, since the grand portico of du Pont Hall is oriented not to the center of the campus, but to College Avenue below. Later additions to the campus have maintained the red brick Georgian idiom and elements of Robinson and Walford's plan; one of the most recent, the Woodard Campus Center ( FR69.17) (1986–1989, VMDO, Robert Vickery designer), has some postmodern elements. VMDO became the campus architects in the early 1980s and restored Robinson's vision by emphasizing the linear, pedestrian-oriented nature of the campus and creating a series of plazas.