Mary Baldwin College

When this Valley of the Shadow archive picture was taken, Mary Baldwin College was known as Augusta Female Seminary, but these main buildings no longer occupy the heart of their campus now that the adjacent SMA property (above and beyond the campus visible in this picture) has been absorbed.

North and South Barracks are gone now, with nothing currently replacing their spots on The Hill, but the open landscape is no detraction from the beauty of the setting. Plans are to continue expanding the college facilities, but details are not available. So far, a new building which architecturally compliments both the college's existing buildings and the rest of the SMA buildings has been erected in a spot where it helps integrate the once distinctly separate campuses. Located across from the old superintendent's home, it is joined to the old headmaster's office/Mess Hall building by an open patio. The superintendent's home is now home for the MBC president.

The connection between the two campuses has been made with a roadway and sidewalk linking previously existing roads, and an impressive new road provides access to The Hill, joining the original road leading to Wieland Memorial Gate. The pool in the Kable Hall basement is no more, and renovations have been made in all of the buildings. Due to state law concerning historical sites, the names of many of the buildings, the gates, as well as the cannon, flag pole, and the memorial on Flagtop Hill will remain as we know them.

Despite the sorrow of losing our alma mater, when seeing the changes first-hand, one must concede that the integration of the campuses has been thoughtfully and tastefully done, and it has resulted in an impressive institution of higher learning that is an evolution worthy of the SMA heritage. It is probably the best thing that could have happened, short of it remaining Staunton Military Academy.

The text below addresses MBC dorm life (Kable Hall remains a dorm) and is an excerpt from a section of the first-edition version of the Mary Baldwin Web site. The hyperlink at the beginning will take you there, where a great deal of information about MBC can be viewed.

Mary Baldwin College

Dorm Life

The Philosophy of Residence Life at Mary Baldwin College is committed to the belief that students have much to learn from each other, and that both group-responsibility and self-determination are fostered by the experience of residence hall living. For each student, it is an experience in flexibility, creativity, accountability, and compassion. Residence hall life focuses on four primary objectives:

  1. To provide an atmosphere for personal growth and development of each student.
  2. To provide an environment that enhances the student's ability to meet her academic purposes.
  3. To provide for student self-responsibility in the living community.
  4. To provide opportunities for interpersonal development through spontaneous and planned hall programs.

In sum, our residence halls are more than just a place to sleep. Students have numerous opportunities to experiment, to appreciate, to develop, to enhance, to clarify, and finally, to understand. Students learn not only from the classroom, but learn from each other in the residence halls, the extensions of the classrooms.


Mary Baldwin has a wide range of residences available on campus. Some are new and some renovated, but they all display the exquisite architecture of our campus. In addition, all residences have television and study lounges, kitchens equipped with microwave ovens, and coin laundry facilities. Students may choose to bring with them their own TVs and they may either bring or rent refrigerators. All dorms remain locked 24 hours a day as well, and each student has her own key to the building and her room. Freshmen are required to live in certain housing units, but upperclass women may choose their residence halls through a room lottery system at the end of each year. With the exception of freshmen dorms, each one is different and has slightly different policies regarding smoking, male visitation, etc. so students can feel most comfortable in their environment. MBC even provides the option to live in campus owned apartments, and we have special houses such as the community service house and honor scholars house.

Residence Life Staff

The Residence Life Staff consists of the Director of Residence Life, the Student Life Coordinator and seventeen Resident Advisors. The professional staff members have relevant graduate degrees and experience and are available as resources to the Resident Advisors and to students in general. The professional Residence Life staff have on campus residences and share "on call" responsibilities with other professional staff members. The Residence Life staff works closely with the Resident Advisors to form a supportive team in building a campus community, as well as carrying out policies and procedures.


Mary Baldwin College was founded in 1842 as Augusta Female Seminary by Rufus W. Bailey, a minister and teacher from Maine who became the first principal. The first charter was granted to the Seminary by the Virginia General Assembly in 1845.

The school's first building, now known as the Administration Building, was erected in 1844 with monies raised by popular subscription.

The stresses of the Civil War threatened to close the Seminary when, in 1863, the secretary of the Board of Trustees prevailed upon Mary Julia Baldwin, a former pupil of Rufus Bailey, to accept appointment as principal. Not only did the school remain open, it expanded and prospered under her leadership.

The academic level of the higher classes was raised until they were the equivalent of college work. In 1895 the name of the institution was changed, at the request of the Board of Trustees and by act of the legislature of Virginia, to Mary Baldwin Seminary in appreciation of "the valuable services and unparalleled success of the principal." Two years later, Mary Julia Baldwin died, leaving the bulk of her estate to the Seminary, which, with gifts already given by her, amounted to a substantial endowment.

The Seminary became Mary Baldwin Junior College in 1916 and a four year college in 1923 when the name was changed to Mary Baldwin College. The preparatory department closed in 1929.

Since 1930 the campus has expanded from four to fifty-five contiguous acres, and the enrollment from 250 to over 1600 students. The most dramatic physical changes occurred in the decade of the 1960s with the erection of six major buildings, whose neoclassical architectural style integrated the "old" and the "new" campuses with rare unity.

Further expansion occurred in the late 1970s with the purchase of the Staunton Military Academy property, and in the 80s and 90s with extensive renovations of current buildings. In 1992 the new Pannill Student Center, partially funded by a $1.1 million gift from William G. Pannill, was dedicated. 1993 saw the completion of the extraordinarily successful Sesquicentennial Campaign, which raised $37.2 million.

The college also expanded its curriculum during these years. The Adult Degree Program was instituted in 1977. In 1985 the college welcomed its charter class in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. The college's first graduate program, the Master of Arts in Teaching, was inaugurated in 1992. And in the fall of 1995 the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership - (VWIL) opened its doors.

Presidents of Mary Baldwin College

  • Dr. A. M. Fraser, 1923-1928
  • Dr. L. Wilson Jarman, 1929-1946
  • Dr. Frank Bell Lewis, 1947-1953
  • Mr. Charles W. McKenzie, 1954-1956
  • Dr. Samuel R. Spencer, Jr., 1957-1968
  • Dr. William Watkins Kelly, 1969-1976
  • Dr. Virginia L. Lester, 1976-1985
  • Dr. Cynthia H. Tyson, 1985-