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A Select Chronology of Mount Vernon Seminary and College

For over 120 years, Mount Vernon Seminary and, later, Mount Vernon College were private institutions for the education of women in D.C. In 1997, Mount Vernon College became part of GW; its grounds are now known as the Mount Vernon Campus.

The following is a chronology of key events in the history of Mount Vernon.

Elizabeth J. Somers, founder of Mount Vernon Seminary


Elizabeth Somers accepted private pupils in her home at 204 F Street, Washington, D.C. She began teaching private students in her home at the request of prominent statesmen following the Civil War. Gatherings attended by authors, poets, musicians, politicians and diplomats complemented formal studies.


Mrs. Somers officially opened her school and named it Mount Vernon Seminary after the church of her brother (Thomas Eddy), Mount Vernon Place Methodist in Baltimore. Intended as a “Family and Day School for Young Ladies,” Mount Vernon Seminary offered a six-year course, including two post-high school years.


The school moved to 1100 M Street N.W. Washington, D.C.


The Alumnae Association was founded and has been in existence continuously ever since.


The Mount Vernon Seminary Society was founded. Its stated purpose was “the binding together of M.V.S. students in carrying out some useful charitable work.” The Society supported the Kindergarten at Neighborhood House in Southeast Washington.


Mrs. Somers was named President and Mrs. Adelia Gates Hensley was named Vice-President.

The Mount Vernon Seminary was reorganized.

The first Montessori “House of Childhood” was inaugurated at Friendship House and was supported by the Society.


Mrs. Somers retired.

Mrs. Hensley, a teacher with the school since 1884, was named the 2nd President of Mount Vernon Seminary.


Mount Vernon Seminary incorporated as a non-profit organization.

Miss Jean Dean Cole was named Vice-President.


The school moved to Nebraska Avenue, which had the capacity to house 130 resident students.

Founder's Day was instituted to honor Mrs. Somers's eightieth birthday. This day has been celebrated every November 5th since then as the school's birthday.


Mrs. Hensley died. Miss Cole, who had been with the school since 1905, is named the 3rd President.


Mrs. Somers died on June 8th.


As a memorial to Mount Vernon's founder, alumnae built the Elizabeth Somers Chapel and dedicated it on May 24th.


The Board of Trustees established the Junior College as distinct unit.


The Nebraska Avenue campus was enlarged from 15 to 31 acres.


Miss Cole resigned as President but retained her status as Headmistress.

George W Lloyd, who had been with the school since 1930 and was the head of the Junior College, was named as the 4th President of the College.


Mrs. Olwen Lloyd was appointed the headmistress of the Seminary.


Miss Cole died.


The United States Navy took over the Mount Vernon Seminary campus on Nebraska Avenue “in the interest of the war effort.” But the Board of Trustees decided that “every effort should be made to insure the continuity of the school.” Mount Vernon began the search for a new campus.


The institution reopened in Spring Valley by leasing neighborhood residences on Fulton Street, Tilden, Quebec and Fordham Roads; and later Rodman Street, Glenbrook Road, and University Terrace.

Classes were held on the second floor of Garfinckel's Department Store.

The school was granted the power to confer the degree of Associate in Arts.


Mount Vernon was granted “just compensation for school property” that was acquired by the United States Navy.


The College purchased 21 acres on Foxhall Road, then purchased an additional 5 acres of the adjoining Gore property. Ground was broken for the new school in November.


The institution reopened at 2100 Foxhall Road.


Entrance gates were given by the College Class of '47 and an alumna.


The Post House (now Merriweather Hall dormitory) was given to the College by Marjorie Merriweather Post, a Mount Vernon College alumna.


The U.S. Navy returned the chapel bell from the Elizabeth Somers Chapel.


The Gymnasium-Auditorium was completed though gifts of alumnae and parents.


The President's house was completed on campus, funded by an alumna's gift.


Ames Hall and a new infirmary were built through a gift of an alumna.


Acheson Hall of Science was built, also through an alumna's gift.


The new library (now the Office of Admissions and the Division of Continuing Studies), Post Hall, and new offices in the administration building were completed through the gift of an alumna.


The new gatehouse opened.


Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd retired, and Peter Pelham was appointed President.

The Father's Club donated funds to create a Developmental Reading Laboratory. Even in the 1960s, Mount Vernon College was dedicated to offering a variety of support services for its students.


A Friend of the College donated the Art Gallery. The portico was added to the main entrance of the Academic Building.


Merriweather House and the College Administrative offices were enlarged.


The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to disestablish the Seminary in 1969.

The first session of Mount Vernon's Washington Summer Program in American Politics and Government was held.


Tribute to Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post, First Life Alumna-Trustee of the Board.

The new President's House on W Street was built on land owned by Mount Vernon. The former President's House was converted into an Administrative-Alumnae Center.


The institution's name was officially set as Mount Vernon Junior College.

The last class graduated from Mount Vernon Seminary.

The entrance of the college moved from Foxhall Road to W Street, and construction of the new gatehouse on W Street began.

Academic internships were offered for the first time during the winter term.


The Florence Hollis Hand Chapel was dedicated. The Chapel was a gift of the Callaway Foundation in memory of Alice Hand Callaway's mother.

Thirty-nine dogwood trees dedicated to the College were planted adjacent to the Chapel. There is one dogwood tree with a name plate for each of the last graduates of the Seminary.


Pelham Dormitory was completed.


The Board of Higher Education of the District of Columbia licensed the College to award the degree of Bachelor of Arts and the honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters and Doctor of Laws.


Mount Vernon expanded its academic program to offer majors in Public Affairs and Government, Business Administration, Childhood and Special Education, and the Visual Arts.


The outdoor pool opened.


Mount Vernon College received its initial accreditation as a four-year college.


Dr. Victoria Schuck was named Mount Vernon College's 6th President.


The Interior Design program received its initial accreditation from the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER).


Dr. Jane Coutant Evans was named Mount Vernon College's 7th President.


The Board approved the new master plan for the campus along with the addition of two majors, Computer Information Systems and Health Science, to begin in 1984.


Five new majors were added to the College's B.A. Program: the two mentioned above, and three resulting from the reorganization of the Public Affairs and Government major.


The College broke ground on the new library.


Mount Vernon College was reaccredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


The Eckles Memorial Library was completed and dedicated at the opening Convocation.


Dr. Evans retired; Dr. Madeleine Green was named Interim President of Mount Vernon College.


Dr. Lucy Ann Geiselman was named Mount Vernon College's 8th President.


The Institute on Women and Work in Washington was founded.


The Division of Continuing Studies began the graduate school at Mount Vernon College.


Mount Vernon College announced plans to affiliate the 121-year-old women's college with the George Washington University. Under terms of the affiliation, Mount Vernon College would be governed by a GW-appointed Board of Trustees. Mount Vernon’s President and administration, faculty and staff, students and academic programs all remained in place.


In Fall Term, the first class of George Washington first-year women lived and took classes on the Mount Vernon campus as part of the new affiliation.

GW and Mount Vernon College began a transition to “The George Washington University at Mount Vernon College.”


The last Mount Vernon College class graduated in May. On June 30 the campus officially became The George Washington University at Mount Vernon College, offering special living, learning and leadership programs for women of the George Washington University.


Defined by its original neo-classical style brick residence halls, academic buildings, Pub, and dining hall, campus architecture was complemented by the architectural award-winning Hand Chapel, Gatehouse and Pelham residence hall. Recent additions to the campus included new athletic facilities, a campus pub and provisions market, and a new wing on the Somers residence hall.