Modern Family Room

New building centers on student life

From the hallowed grounds that once housed Chandler Hall, a modern living room is emerging.

When it is finished in 2015, the new four-story Campus Center will live up to its name. It will be at the center of the grounds, and it will serve as the living room – or, more aptly, the family room – for the campus community.

Preservationists recommended the site of Chandler Hall for the new Campus Center, architectural rendering pictured here, on Ball Circle. Chandler was razed last summer.

Preservationists recommended the site of Chandler Hall for the new Campus Center, architectural rendering pictured here, on Ball Circle. Chandler was razed last summer.

The Campus Center will help University of Mary Washington stay competitive with colleges of similar size while also meeting the evolving needs of students. One of the main benefits will be improved dining facilities.

Students have been eating at Seacobeck Hall since it opened in 1931 – back when young academics were expected to dress for dinner and show up at assigned tables precisely on time. Today’s students cherish Seacobeck for its history, but not for the long lines they wait in to be served. In 2013, the building serves about 60 percent more people than it was designed to serve in 1931. It also is home to student organizations, but offers little space for members and meetings.

Space is tight, too, at Woodard Hall, now home to the campus center, post office, meeting rooms, and more. Students want – and expect – amenities Woodard can’t accommodate, and the building has failed to serve as a central gathering place.

The Chandler location was selected for its place at the hub of UMW life – Ball Circle – and to honor historic preservation. According to a recent study of Chandler Hall, built in 1926, most of its internal historic significance had been destroyed in multiple renovations. A committee of internal and external professionals, including UMW historic preservationists and representatives from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, supported building the Campus Center on the Chandler site.

Chandler Hall

Chandler Hall

Chandler Hall was razed last summer, and workers carefully removed the clock and column caps, making it possible to use them elsewhere on campus.

Two linden trees still tower  on the Ball Circle site. UMW has coordinated with experts to protect their root structures from construction. Other trees around Chandler Hall had to be removed to accommodate the Campus Center’s 105,685-square-foot outline, but for every tree lost, a new one will be planted on campus.

In Chandler’s absence, the Department of Psychology and the Fredericksburg campus’s College of Business offices are in George Washington Hall and the Annex. Once renovations to Woodard and Mercer halls are complete, business will move to Woodard and psychology to Mercer. After dining moves to the Campus Center, plans are to keep the faculty/staff dining room in Seacobeck.


Frequently Asked Questions

What will the new Campus Center offer?

The center’s entry level will offer a warm, welcoming space, with ample comfortable seating and a working fireplace. Level by level, the building will contain:

Ground floor (entrance from College Avenue): ballroom, commuter lounge

Second floor: comfortable common room and retail

Third floor: Multicultural Center; Center for Honor, Leadership and Service; Student Activities and Engagement, Vice President for Student Affairs

Fourth floor: dining room

Will construction disrupt fun and formalities on Ball Circle?

Most of the green space will remain available to students and for special events, including commencement.

When will the Campus Center open?

Construction is expected to last through summer 2015; the building should open that fall.

Watch construction as it happens, live!

Go to and click “construction camera.”


About Anna Billingsley

Anna B. Billingsley, associate vice president for university relations, has worked at UMW since 2004.