Friday, April 13, 2012


Not many colleges can say they've canceled classes because 'the British invaded.' The College of William & Mary is the second-oldest college in America. The original plans for the College date back to 1618—decades before Harvard—but were derailed by an “Indian uprising.”

On February 8, 1693, King William III and Queen Mary II of England signed the charter for a “perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good Arts and Sciences” to be founded in the Virginia Colony. And William & Mary was born.

Workers began construction on the Sir Christopher Wren Building, then known simply as the College Building in 1695, before the town of Williamsburg even existed. Over the next two centuries, the Wren Building would burn on three separate occasions, each time being re-built inside the original walls. That makes the Wren the oldest college building in America, and possibly the most flammable.

The College has been called “the Alma Mater of a Nation” because of its close ties to America’s founding fathers. A 17-year-old George Washington received his surveyor's license through the College and would return as its first American chancellor. Thomas Jefferson received his undergraduate education here, as did presidents John Tyler and James Monroe.

William & Mary is famous for its firsts: the first U.S. institution with a Royal Charter, the first Greek-letter society (Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776), the first student honor code and the first law school in America.

The College became a state-supported school in 1906 and went coed in 1918. In 1928, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. chose the Wren as the first building to be returned to its 18th-century appearance as part of the iconic Colonial Williamsburg restoration.

The College of William and Mary appears to house several spirits who are enjoying everything but rest in the afterlife. A soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War met his death in a small room that is to the back of the college due to a gunshot injury he received while fighting. This occurred on the third floor of the college. Several students and individuals who work at the school have claimed that they have seen a soldier in spirit form walking in a mist-like state around the area where he reportedly passed.

There are several areas around this college that appear to have hauntings. One such place is the building that is named “Brafferton”. It was in this building, which several tribes of Indian boys  were sent to learn behaviors and beliefs that surround the Christian faith. When the boys arrived for rehabilitation, several of them were lacking in nutrition and fell ill. They were not at all happy with being separated from their tribes, and attempted to escape several times. Unfortunately, for many it was too late and they ended up dying.
The spirits of students who were forced to attend the Indian school that was housed in the Brafferton are said to run across campus at night. The best time to sneak a peek is on misty night in the Sunken Garden. The ghosts run a few feet above the ground down the length of the Garden.

 It is believed that these spirits still roam the building, trying to escape.
Arguably the most famous campus ghost, this haunt visits students who choose to pull all-nighters in the classroom on the third floor of St. George Tucker Hall. The ghost’s identity is yet unknown, as it has been rumored to be anyone ranging from a resident of Colonial Williamsburg during the Revolution to a disgruntled or suicidal student at the College.

Students reportedly began hearing mysterious footsteps in the Wren Building shortly after the Revolutionary War. They claimed that the ghosts were French soldiers who died in the building, although nowadays students maintain that it is Sir Christopher Wren himself, roaming the very building he designed.
Underground steam tunnels exist on both Old and Ancient Campus. The tunnels are said to connect to the Wren Chapel burial vault, located in the basement of the Wren Building. In 1977, access to the crypt from the tunnels was blocked with the addition of a padlocked steel door to prevent vandalism. During that time, supposedly, it was popular for fraternity brothers to sneak into the crypt and steal a bone from the tomb of James Blair. It is rumored that secret societies use these tunnels to move around campus.

There are at least nine secret societies on campus, including The 7s, The 13s, The Alphas, The Bishop James Madisons and The Flat Hats. Look for signs of them throughout the year, particularly around the time of Homecoming and graduation. If they deem you worthy, you may be contacted by them out of gratitude for your contribution to the College community or even invited to join their closeted rankings.

The legend behind the Crim Dell is that if you walk across it’s bridge with your significant other and kiss at the top, you are destined to marry that person and be in love forever. If you break up, however, you will remain cursed unless one member of the hopeless couple pushes the other into the Crim Dell. It’s never agreed upon as to who should be chucked over the edge — girls will say it’s the boy who should be pushed, and boys will say it’s the girl. Avoid walking across it alone, however, unless you want to be doomed to a life of loneliness.

Less grave, however, is the myth surrounding the statue of Lord Botetourt. Allegedly, if you touch the statue, you’ll get a good grade on your next test. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?


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