The University of Mary Washington’s Master Plan, published in the fall of 2010, initially called for the demolition of the 1931 Seacobeck dining hall (DHR # 111-0001-0007) in order to make way for a new student center. Resulting from this proposal was a series of student protests which led to the formation of the Seacobeck Resolution Committee by the UMW administration. The charge of this committee was to evaluate other potential locations on the UMW Fredericksburg, Virginia campus to better inform the decision making process and to have the least adverse impact on the proposed UMW Historic District. Because the proposed districts significance deals primarily with the architectural merits of Charles M. Robinson and J. Binford Walfrod, as well as the early 20th century developments in women’s higher education, particular deference was paid to these concerns during the evaluation process.
After extensive research and deliberations the site of Chandler Hall (111-0001-0009), was determined to be the least intrusive to the integrity and significance of the proposed UMW historic district. Chandler Hall retains a relatively low or moderate level of integrity associated with its primary period of significance, 1929-1938, when compared to Seacobeck Hall.
Because of the need to demolish Chandler Hall a contributing resource to the University of Mary Washington Historic District, the University entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) outlining necessary mitigation. This mitigation included an intensive architectural survey (Phase II) of Chandler Hall which was undertaken by UMW’s Department of Historic Preservation at the request of the administration beginning January 2013. Results from the survey were added to previous reconnaissance surveys (Phase I) entered into the Data Sharing System (DSS) in March 1987, June 1987 and October 2007. The survey work was finalized in February of 2013.
Based on the intensive-level survey Chandler Hall was determined to exhibit architectural significance on a local level. Additionally, the structure was determined to contribute to the aesthetic merit and architectural cohesiveness of Ball Circle, a main gathering point on UMW’s campus as well as a significant landscape of the UMW historic district. However, the alternative site, Seacobeck Hall, was determined to have a higher level of integrity as well as significance. At present neither structure has been listed on the NRHP.
The large majority of research and field documentation required for the survey was conducted in conjunction with the creation of the UMW Preservation Plan. Work for both the survey and the plan was carried out by Assistant Professor Michael Spencer of the Department of Historic Preservation. Professor Spencer meets and exceeds the standards established for an Historian and Architectural Historian by the Secretary of the Interior.