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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

1868 Elizabeth Somers accepts private pupils in her home at 204 F Street, Washington, D.C. She begins teaching private students in her home in Washington, D.C. at the request of prominent statesmen following the Civil War. Formal study was complemented by gatherings that were attended by authors, poets, musicians, politicians and diplomats.

1875 Mrs. Somers officially opens her school and names it Mount Vernon Seminary after the church of her brother (Thomas Eddy), Mount Vernon Place Methodist, in Baltimore. Mrs Somers officially opens the Mount Vernon Seminary, a "Family and Day School for Young Ladies," announcing a six-year course, including two post-high school years.

1880 The school moves to 1100 M Street N.W. Washington, D.C.

1885 Alumnae Association is founded and has been in existence continuously ever since.

1905 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.

1913 Mrs. Somers named President and Mrs. Adelia Gates Hensley 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.

1914 Mrs. Somers retires. Mrs. Hensley, a teacher with the school since 1884, is named the 2nd President of Mount Vernon Seminary.

1916 Mount Vernon Seminary incorporated as a non-profit organization. Miss Jean Dean Cole named Vice-President.

1917 The school moves to Nebraska Avenue, which had the capacity to house 130 resident students. 

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

1923 Mrs. Hensley dies. Miss Cole, who has been with the school since 1905, is named the 3rd President.

1924 Mrs. Somers dies on June 8th.

1925 As a memorial to Mount Vernon's founder, alumnae build the Elizabeth Somers Chapel and dedicate it on May 24th.

1927 Junior College established by Board of Trustees as distinct unit.

1928 The Nebraska Avenue campus is enlarged from 15 to 31 acres.

1936 Miss Cole resigns as President, but retains her status as Head-mistress. George W Lloyd, who had been with the school since 1930 and was the head of the Junior College, is named as the 4th President of the College.

1938 Mrs. Olwen Lloyd appointed headmistress of the Seminary.

1939 Miss Cole dies.

1942 The United States Navy takes 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 begins the search for a new campus.

1943 The Institution reopens in Spring Valley by leasing neighborhood residences on Fulton Street, Tilden, Quebec and Fordham Road, and later Rodman Street, Glenbrook Road, and University Terrace. Classes held on second floor of Garfinckel's Department Store. The school is granted the power to confer the degree of Associate in Arts.

1944 Mount Vernon is granted "just compensation for school property" that was acquired by the United States Navy.

1945 The College purchases 21 acres on Foxhall Road, then purchases an additional 5 acres of the adjoining Gore property. Ground was broken for the new school in November.

1946 Institution reopens on 2100 Foxhall Road.

1947 Entrance gates given by College class of '47 and an alumna.

1949 Post House (now Merriweather dormitory) is given to the College by Marjorie Merriweather Post, a M.V.C. alumna.

1950 U.S. Navy returns the Chapel bell from the Elizabeth Somers Chapel.

1951 Gymnasium-Auditorium is completed though gifts of alumnae and parents.

1953 President's house completed on campus, thanks to a gift by an alumna.

1954-1955 Ames Hall and a new infirmary are built as a gift of an alumna.

1956 Acheson Hall of Science is built, also through an alumna's gift.

1957 The new library (now the Office of Admissions and the Division of Continuing Studies), Post Hall, and new offices in the administration building are completed by the gift of an alumna.

1960 New gatehouse opens.

1961 Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd retire, and Peter Pelham appointed President.

The Father's club donated the 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.

1963 A Friend of the College donates the Art Gallery.

The portico is added to the main entrance of the Academic Building.

1964 Merriweather House and the College Administrative offices are enlarged.

1965 Board of Trustees votes unanimously to disestablish the Seminary in 1969.

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

1966 Tribute to Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post, First Life Alumna-Trustee of the Board.

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

1969 Institution's name officially set as Mount Vernon Junior College.

Last class graduates from Mount Vernon Seminary.

The entrance of the college is moved off Foxhall Road to W Street and construction of the new gatehouse on W Street is begun.

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

1970 Dedication of Florence Hollis Hand Chapel. The Chapel is a gift of the Callaway Foundation, in memory of Alice Hand Callaway's mother.

39 dogwood trees are dedicated to the College and are planted adjacent to the Chapel. There is one dogwood tree with a name plate for each of the last graduates of the Seminary.

1971 Pelham Dormitory completed.

1973 The Board of Higher Education of the District of Columbia licenses the College to award the degree of Bachelor of Arts and honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters and Doctor of Laws.

1974 Mount Vernon expands its academic program to offer majors in Public Affairs and Government, Business Administration, Childhood and Special Education, and the Visual Arts.

1975 The outdoor pool is opened.

1976 Mount Vernon College receives initial accreditation as a four-year college.

1977 Dr. Victoria Schuck named Mount Vernon College's sixth President.

1978 Interior Design program receives initial accreditation from the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER)

1980 Dr. Jane Coutant Evans named Mount Vernon College's seventh President.

1981 The Board approves the new master plan for the campus along with the addition of two majors - Computer Information Systems and Health Science - to begin in 1984.

1984-1985 Five new majors added to the College's B.A. Program, the two mentioned above, and three resulting from reorganization of the public Affairs and Government major.

1986 College breaks ground on new library.

1986-1987 Mount Vernon College reaccredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

1987 Eckles Memorial Library completed and dedicated at the opening Convocation.

1990 Dr. Evans retires; Dr. Madeleine Green named Interim President of Mount Vernon College.

1991 Dr. LucyAnn Geiselman named Mount Vernon College's eighth President.

1992 The Institute on Women and Work in Washington founded.

1993 The Division of Continuing Studies begins the graduate school at Mount Vernon College.

1996 Mount Vernon College announces plans to affiliate the 121-year-old women's college with The George Washington University. Under terms of the affiliation Mount Vernon College will be governed by a GW-appointed Board of Trustees. Mount Vernon’s President and administration, faculty and staff, students and academic programs all remain in place.

1998 In the Fall, the first class of George Washington freshmen women lived and took classes on the Mount Vernon campus as part of the new George Washington University at Mount Vernon College.

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

1999 In May, the last Mount Vernon College class was graduated and 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.

2000-2004 The campus is defined by its original neo-classical style brick residence halls, academic buildings, Pub, and dining hall, complemented by the architectural award winning Hand Chapel, Gatehouse and Pelham residence hall. Recent additions to the campus include new athletic facilities, a campus pub and provisions market, and a new wing on the Somers residence hall.



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