Lynchburg College was founded as Virginia Christian College in 1903 by Dr. Josephus Hopwood, a pioneer in Christian coeducation. From its earliest days, Lynchburg College has maintained an association with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), since it was through the support of Disciples of Christ ministers and businessmen that the College was established.
The Hopwood Years
Dr. Josephus Hopwood was an educator who believed that the future of the world depended on Christian education, and his mission was to educate both men and women.
His wife and professional colleague, Sarah Eleanor LaRue Hopwood, shared his beliefs and vision. Together they worked to establish Lynchburg College as one of the oldest coeducational colleges in Virginia.
Dr. Hopwood was president of Milligan College in Tennessee when a group of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministers and businessmen approached him about establishing a college in Lynchburg on the site of a failed resort, which was available for sale.
Impressed by the resort’s setting and the area’s natural beauty, Dr. Hopwood declared the stately gray building “an ideal college site,” and announced, “Boys, we’ll take it.” The property was purchased for $13,500 and was officially established as Virginia Christian College on April 18, 1903, Josephus Hopwood’s 60th birthday.
When the College opened its doors, 11 faculty members were on staff to teach 55 students, but coeducation proved to be popular, and enrollment increased rapidly. The first graduating class, the Class of 1904, consisted of five men and three women.
Dr. Hopwood’s strong commitment to Christian education guided the institution in its early years, and his philosophy was reflected in the College’s first motto, “Christian Education – the Hope of the World.”
Westover Hall, a large rambling gray frame building designed along the lines of a French chateau, was the founding building of Lynchburg College and its heart for 67 years.
Built as a resort hotel in 1891, the West Lynchburg Inn, as it was then known, became the physical plant for the new college and was a multi-purpose facility that housed a dormitory, offices, and classrooms. The old hotel dining room was converted to a chapel, the bar to a dining hall, and the large parlors and the porches served as classrooms.
Throughout its history, Westover Hall was home to students, dining services, health services, administrative offices, student activities facilities, and even a gymnasium.
Building and Expansion
In 1909 construction was completed on Main Hall, the first academic building (later named Hopwood Hall), and Carnegie Hall, a men’s residence hall, partially funded by a gift from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. When the new buildings were completed, Dr. Hopwood declared that Carnegie would “stand for a thousand years unless destroyed by dynamite or earthquakes.”
From these beginnings, a continuous building program has been carried out in accordance with the College’s original campus master plan that called for future buildings to form an ellipsis. As part of this plan, Hopwood Hall (1909) and Snidow Chapel (1966) were built at the east and west ends of campus, symbolically linking Dr. Hopwood’s guiding principles of faith and reason.
Today, more than 40 buildings, many of Georgian style architecture, grace the campus.
A New Name
In 1919, the Virginia Christian College’s name was changed to Lynchburg College to avoid confusion with another institution in the area and because the College’s church constituency had expanded beyond Virginia.
Claytor Nature Study Center
In 1998 the College expanded into Bedford County with the creation of the Claytor Nature Study Center, a 470-acre farm donated to the College by A. Boyd Claytor III for environmental study and research.
Since 1903, Lynchburg College has been led by nine presidents:
Dr. Josephus Hopwood (1903-1911)
Dr. S.T. Willis (1911-1912)
Mr. G.O. Davis (1912-1914)
Mr. George P. Coler (Acting, 1914-1915)
Dr. John T. Hundley (1915-1936)
Dr. Riley B. Montgomery (1936-1949)
Dr. Orville W. Wake ’32 (1949-1964)
Dr. M. Carey Brewer ’49 (1964-1983)
Dr. George N. Rainsford (1983-1993)
Dr. Charles O. Warren (1993-2001)
Dr. Kenneth R. Garren (2001-present)
Buildings and Facilities
Hall Campus Center (formerly Memorial Gymnasium) 1923, renovated 1980
Hundley Hall, 1954
Knight-Capron Library, 1954; Capron addition, 1969
Hobbs Hall, 1959, laboratory wing 1993; renovated 1995
Shackelford Hall, 1963
Crews and Reynolds Courts, 1964
McWane Hall, 1966
Snidow Chapel-Hebb Music Center, 1966
Tate Hall, 1967
Burton Student Center, 1968
Turner Gymnasium, 1969, renovated 2000
Wake Field House, 1969
Montgomery Hall, 1970
Dillard Fine Arts Center, 1974
Alumni House, 1985
McMillan Nursing Building, 1987
Thompson Education building, 1987; renovated 2009
Daura Art Gallery, 1990; addition 1995
Beaver Point Clubhouse, 1990
Bell Tower, 1993
A. Boyd Claytor III Education and Research Facility, 2003
Brewer, Rainsford, and Warren townhouses, 2003
Bullard and Huston townhouses, 2004
Elliot & Rosel Schewel Hall, 2005
Peaks View Hall, 2005
Belk Astronomical Observatory, 2007
Shellenberger Field renovated 2007
Moon Field renovated 2006, 2007