Our History

Establishment and Naming

In the late 1800's, the Richmond College campus was located on several blocks in downtown Richmond on Grace Street near Lombardy. The new women's college could occupy one block of this campus. However, after careful consideration, it was decided that just one block would not provide enough space.

Simultaneously, Richmond College was growing so rapidly that the Board of Trustees eventually decided to relocate both campuses to an area that provided more space for current programs as well as more room for expansion. It was then that the campus was relocated to the University's current location, which was considered to be a very remote West End location. The area was called Westhampton, and the lake in the center of this location was called Westhampton Lake. Thus, the new women's college was given the name Westhampton College.

Campus Development

The Board determined that Richmond College and Westhampton College would be located on either side of Westhampton Lake. The new women's college was developed on the south side while Richmond College would be developed on the heavily wooded north bank.

The current North Court building was the first building erected on the new campus. For many years, North Court was simply called was Westhampton College. There are four other original buildings throughout the campus, which are: Thomas Hall, Jeter Hall, Ryland Hall, and the front portion of Sarah Brunet Hall, which served as the dining hall for Richmond College students.

Women Admitted to Richmond College

While awaiting the completion of Westhampton College, about 65 women were admitted as students to Richmond College beginning in 1898. Most of these women were daughters of faculty members. By the time Westhampton opened in 1914, four classes were already in place and organizations, activities, and traditions were already established beginning with that very first year.

Interactive History

Abby Emerson Ward, '03, created www.wchistory.net, as a thesis project to complete her Master's of Education at the College of William & Mary. This project's aim was to chronicle the student experience at Westhampton through the eyes of its alumnae. It's important never to forget Westhampton's historical and continuing commitment to excellence in providing educational and leadership opportunities for women so that this legacy can be perpetuated by future students, faculty, staff and alumnae. As one alumna said, "women of college age will always fundamentally be the same—the times and clothes and other things may change, but not the basic interests and needs of a college girl." Despite the many changes that have occurred since the college's founding, maybe there really aren't so many differences. After all, the Westhampton Spirit still remains.