"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
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Washington and Lee University

Address: Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450
Phone: 540.463.8460
Web site: http://chapelapps.wlu.edu

Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, whose history dated back to the mid-eighteenth century, survived the Civil War. Its trustees invited former Confederate General Robert E. Lee to serve as president of the school following the war, and under Lee's leadership the college took important steps toward its future status as a university.

Among Lee's projects during his brief tenure was the construction of a chapel facing Washington Hall, which would ultimately host his funeral in 1870 and serve as the burial crypt for the school's most famous president. As such, it became a place of frequent visitation by Virginians and many other Americans, so that in 1933 the Blue Ridge Garden Club petitioned The Garden Club of Virginia to undertake the creation of a boxwood memorial garden around the site. The project appealed to the Club, but when studies by landscape architect Charles Gillette revealed the impracticality of such a plan, a modified proposal was adopted. This plan included the construction of brick walkways and an entrance to the chapel itself, along with the planting of yews and the pruning of many older trees that shaded the area. In addition a simplified plan for entrance gates along Jefferson Street and a parking space below the chapel, with the attendant planting of American holly, magnolia, beech, and maple trees on the hillside above, was completed in 1935. In 1976, under the direction of Ralph E. Griswold, a principal in GWSM, Inc., additional plantings and renovations to the brick arrival terrace were made.

Note:
The images presented here record various stages of the property's landscape restoration. Since additional work has been supported by The Garden Club of Virginia at many properties, these images do not necessarily represent the current-day experience. Also, accession numbers reflect the year in which an image was received by the Virginia Historical Society, not the year in which it was taken.

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Description

A dated photograph of the Lee Chapel in autumn.

Photographic print, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 4

Reconstructed plan of the Lee Chapel entrance, 1973, prepared by Ralph E. Griswold from a plan by Charles Gillette, 1934.

Drawing, Gardens, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Terrace planting plan, GWSM, Inc., 1976.

Drawing, Gardens, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Brick arrival terrace under construction.

Photographic print, Gardens, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

Letter to Mrs. Laurence Davis, president of The Garden Club of Virginia, from Mrs. Frank J. Gilliam, president of The Blue Ridge Garden Club of Lexington, and a copy of a resolution of the Lexington mayor and city council, 1933.

Letter, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3

Price list from Hedge Lawn Nurseries, Inc., Roanoke, Va., 1934, for the initial plantings at Lee Chapel.

Document, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

 

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Last updated March 15, 2011