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Morgan Combs Hall

Adam Ewing, October 10, 2018.

Morgan Combs Hall, or simply “Combs,” was named after UMW’s 3rd President. Morgan Combs was president from 1928 to 1955, which included major events like the Great Depression, World War II, and more specific to the university, then college, oversaw the transition from the State Normal and Industrial School for Women all the way to Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. (1)

Today, Combs is home to the Foreign Languages, English, and our well-known Historic Preservation departments. However, when the building was first built in 1958, Combs was originally intended to give UMW science students more lab space. As shocking and weird as this information may seem for UMW students, who present day have their sciences in Jepson, a building that is on the opposite end of campus from Combs, in 1958 the creation of the new science building was met with a sense of relief. President Combs had been trying to get the science department more lab space since 1944. Through this construction, the science department got their wish for more space to conduct lab experiments. (2)

In black and white, a building is just starting to be built, surrounded by trees.
Combs Hall while under construction in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of The Centennial Collection from the University Archives.
In black and white, a man in a 3-piece suit speaks into an old school microphone.
President Combs giving a speech during the 1940s. Photo courtesy of The Centennial Collection in the University Archives.









(1) William B. Crawley Jr., University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 (North Carolina: BW&A Books, Inc., 2008), Page 28.

(2) Michael Spencer, University of Mary Washington: Preservation Plan-80% Draft (Fredericksburg, VA: Department of Historic Preservation, June 8, 2014), Pages 115-117.