Alumni House (College of William & Mary)

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The Alumni House at The College of William & Mary.

The Alumni House, formerly known as the Bright House, is a 19th-century building located on the College of William & Mary's campus in the middle of historic Williamsburg, Virginia.[1]

Original parts of the house were thought to date back to 1871.[1] Discovered watercolors of the campus, however, revealed that the Alumni House is an antebellum structure. "A long-lost panoramic watercolor of Williamsburg painted by a Union mapmaker, Robert Knox Sneden," was found and dated back to before the American Civil War.[2] Sneden’s watercolors are not always accurate and it is possible that the Italianate tower in his sketch was indeed embellished from an ambiguous flourish in his preliminary sketch. However, Sneden does get most details right (including that the President’s House and the Brafferton were requisitioned by Williamsburg’s military governor); it is therefore perhaps even more possible that the Bright House was in 1862 as Sneden depicted it, in the Italianate style then in vogue (as in the 1859 version of William & Mary's main college building).[2] The Alumni House is one of only several buildings on the College's entire campus to have witnessed, first-hand, a Civil War battle in Williamsburg.[2]

During the house’s existence, it has been home to the William & Mary Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and College faculty.[1] The Bright House became the Alumni House in 1973 after the W&M Alumni Association set out on a campaign to raise funds for some renovations to the building. Despite the modifications, the house still retains a mid-19th century identity.[1] The Alumni House is sometimes used as the headquarters to host meetings pertaining to public interest.[3] James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg have utilized the building.

Directly outside, facing Zable Stadium, is the Elizabeth and T.C. Clarke Memorial Plaza, which is paved with hundreds of engraved bricks that commemorate special people, times and places in William & Mary history.[1] The Plaza can seat 250 people for catered events.


  1. ^ a b c d e Alumni House history – Accessed April 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Meyer, Terry (Winter 2007–2008). "This Old House: A Civil War Watercolor Casts Light on the True Age of the Alumni House". William and Mary Alumni Magazine. 73 (2). 
  3. ^ The Daily Press: Public can discuss hospital's vacant land. "The meetings will be at the college's Alumni House on Richmond Road starting at 7 p.m. on April 21 and April 23. The April 22 session, closed to the public, will only be for certain officials to hear specific suggestions." Accessed April 23, 2008.

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Coordinates: 37°16′27″N 76°42′51″W / 37.27427°N 76.71428°W / 37.27427; -76.71428