Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lexington, Va. Part 2 of 3. Washington and Lee University.

Washington and Lee University

Founded, 1749, as Augusta Academy, near Greenville;
Reestablished at Timber Ridge, May, 1776,
as Liberty Hall Academy;
Moved to Lexington and chartered
as a college, 1782;
Endowed by George Washington, 1796,
and named for him.
Under presidency, 1865 -1870, of Robert E. Lee
(buried in the University Chapel)
whose name after death was incorporated in the official title.

This is the beautiful campus of Washington & Lee University,
the nation's ninth oldest institution of higher learning.
No other school in the nation can boast the legacy
of two of America's most famous generals -
George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

It was founded as Augusta Academy in 1749
and was renamed several times.
In 1776, it was renamed Liberty Hall.
In 1798 it was named Washington Academy to honor
its benefactor, George Washington,
who saved the school from financial ruin 
with a generous endowment of $20,000 in 1796.
In 1813, it was named a college and in 1871,
it became Washington and Lee University 
to honor its 11th president, Robert E. Lee (1865-1870).
After the Civil War, Lee revived the school,
setting it on its course as a modern university 
by introducing practical education into the liberal arts curriculum.

Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic
of Washington and Lee University
is its student-run Honor System,
and the environment it creates on campus and in Lexington.
A W & L student's word is accepted and respected
both on campus and in the community.
Since its inception, the Honor System
fosters a sense of trust and community
that continues to enhance the lives of the students
during enrollment at W & L
and later on in their professional and personal lives.

Washington and Lee University's motto,
"Not unmindful of the future,"
incorporates the visions of Washington and Lee.
While looking to the future,
the University honors its traditions of classical
and practical education,
that nurtured America's founding and growth as a nation.

This is approaching Lee Chapel and Museum
at Washington and Lee University.
In 1866, Lee argued for construction of a Chapel 
as a place where students could attend daily worship
and meet for special occasions.
The Chapel has been an integral part of the University's
historic campus and a center for
ceremonies, lectures, and cultural events since 1868.

Lee Chapel was named a National Historic Landmark
in 1961, and in the early 1960s,
the Ford Motor Company Fund
contributed to its restoration
and the museum renovation.
Established in 1928,
the museum was renovated again in 1998.
In 2007, to mark the 200 anniversary of Lee's birth,
new exhibitions were installed.
Today, the Lee Chapel and Museum
chronicles the heritage and history of 
Washington and Lee University,
including its ties to its famous namesakes.

This Victorian Chapel has been the center
of University Activities since its construction in 1867.
In the museum, you can learn the story of the University,
whose benefactor was George Washington
and whose president was Robert E. Lee - 
two of America's most famous generals,
who happened to be related by marriage.
General R. E Lee became president of
Washington College in 1865.
With an eye to the future,
 he built this chapel to serve the University's growing needs.

Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed inside.
In the museum, one can trace the history of 
the University - from its humble beginnings as
Augusta Academy to Lee's modern legacy
of civility and honor.

When Lee died in 1870,
the Lee Memorial Association was formed
and, under the advice of Mrs. Lee,
commissioned sculptor Edward Valentine of Richmond
to create a statue of the late general and college president.
Completed in 1875,
the recumbent statue was stored on campus
until an addition to the Chapel was dedicated in 1883.
The addition included both a statue chamber and a crypt,
where Lee, his parents, his wife and seven children, 
as well as other immediate descendants are buried.
Outside the crypt doors,
Lee's beloved horse,Traveller, is buried.

In Memory of
General Lee's Beloved Traveller

Rarely has an animal captured so much affection.

Traveller, first called Jeff Davis and later Greenbrier,
was born in 1857 near Blue Sulphur Springs (now in West Virginia). 
 In 1862, Lee purchased him
and renamed him after one of George Washington's horses.
This sturdy American saddlebred,
sixteen hands high, iron gray with a black mane and tail,
carried Lee through many of the Civil War's major campaigns,
and later on pleasant late afternoon rides into the hillsides around Lexington.

Not long after Lee's death, Traveller stepped on a nail 
and developed tetanus necessitating his destruction.
He died in the summer of 1871 
and was buried in a ravine behind the college.
A century later, his skeleton was reburied here.
For years, his mounted skeleton was displayed at the University.
It was a custom among students,
when facing a particularly hard exam,
to write one's name on Traveller's bones for good luck.
Eventually, the skeleton became a mass of graffiti
and the University disassembled the skeleton
and packed it away in boxes.
It was rescued by the Daughters if the Confederacy
and Traveller was laid to rest close to his master.

Stature of Cyrus Hall McCormick
1809 - 1884
Native of Rockbridge County Virginia
He liberated agriculture,
befriended education, and
advanced the cause of religion.
Trustee and Benefactor
of Washington and Lee University.

Cyrus McCormick, who grew up
on his family's 532 acre farm, "Walnut Grove,
north of Lexington,
was known as the "Father of Modern Agriculture,"
and made one of the most significant contributions 
to agriculture and America's prosperity,
when he invented the horse-drawn reaper in 1831.

Horse-drawn tours are available.

Stay tuned for Stonewall Jackson's cemetery.

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