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Hugh Mercer Hall

Adam Ewing, October 22, 2018.

In the 1940s, Mary Washington College had roughly 1300 students in attendance, and not enough space to care for those sick and injured. Morgan Combs was president at this time, and argued for a second, bigger infirmary to be built. Unfortunately, it would not be until 1950 before the building became a reality. However once finished, Mercer Hall remained the school’s clinic until the 1980s, when it was then converted into a dorm, and then again into a set of offices which it is used for today. (1) It has also recently been expanded to include the psychology department.

This building was named after Hugh Mercer, who was born in Scotland in 1725. He eventually immigrated to America, where he put his passion for medicine to good use during the French and Indian War. Mercer became friends with George Washington during the war, and it was Washington who convinced Mercer to move to Fredericksburg. Mercer fought in the Revolutionary War as a brigadier general. He died at the Battle of Princeton in 1777. (2)

A painting, it shows George Washington in the center, with the American Flag behind him and three men. Hugh Mercer is the man in the top left, with a hat on and a red jacket.
In this photo of George Washington (Center) at the Battle of Princeton, Hugh Mercer is also depicted in the background in the top right. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum through the Google Cultural Institute.
A clipping from a yearbook, in black and white, it shows the profile of a building, with "Hugh Mercer Infirmary" printed at the bottom.
Hugh Mercer Hall when it was still an infirmary in 1965. Photo courtesy of The University of Mary Washington, The Battlefield (Fredericksburg, Virginia: 1965.)













(1) Michael Spencer, University of Mary Washington: Preservation Plan-80% Draft (Fredericksburg, VA: Department of Historic Preservation. June 8, 2014), Pages 174-176.

(2) Michael Spencer and the University of Mary Washington Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee, Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee: Final Report (Fredericksburg, VA: The Campus Environment Presidential Ad Hoc Committee, November 6, 2019), Page 48.