The History and Architecture of the University of Richmond, 1834-1977 (MPD)

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


The History and Architecture of the University of Richmond, 1834-1977, Multiple Property Documentation (MPD) Form will allow for the listing of buildings located on the University of Richmond campus. The University of Richmond is one of Virginia’s oldest surviving educational institutions. Founded in the second quarter of the nineteenth century by Baptist leaders, the relatively small institution grew at the edge of the older downtown area of Richmond, the area that transitioned from city to open farmland. Evolving, growing, and surviving the Civil War era and the following economic hardships, Richmond College became surrounded by the city’s rapidly expanding neighborhoods. After a nearly catastrophic fire in 1910 at the original Ryland Hall, the main campus building, the college leaders decided to move to the Henrico County countryside, some 6 miles to the west. An even bolder decision was made to commission well-known architect Ralph Adams Cram to design the campus in Collegiate Gothic style. In 1913-14, Cram was active in the ongoing design of Sweet Briar College, work that he had started in 1906. Cram had used a Jeffersonian-inspired version of Beaux Arts at Sweet Briar. At Richmond College he was encouraged to use the style he favored more strongly, a post Medieval-related tour de force. Richmond College became the University of Richmond at its Westhampton site and has grown into a coeducational non-denominational institution of national prominence. The Collegiate Gothic design legacy has been extended into recent construction campaigns, and it is now a defining motif of the campus, a strong part of the University of Richmond identity.

The campus consists of 350 acres in the western portion of Richmond and is accessible via River Road and Three Chopt Road. The resources are mostly clustered on the north side of Westhampton Lake, but there is one building, the steam plant, to the east of the lake, and another, Westhampton, to the south of the lake.  Two resources from the earlier downtown campus, Columbia and the Richmond College Gates, are already listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. Columbia is individually listed and the Gates are contributing resources in the Fan Area Historic District. This MPD form focuses on designation of buildings built in 1913 and afterwards at the Westhampton campus, such as Ryland Hall, Cannon Memorial Chapel and North Court.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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