Chilhowie – $50,000 and above
The distinctive Chilhowie bricks in the restored front campus walk were made at a brick plant, opened in 1890, in Chilhowie, Virginia, and were therefore probably installed early in the College’s history. They were hand-made from the same southwest Virginia clay that early settlers used to make pottery.
The production of Chilhowie brick tapered off by 1910 due to industrial innovations and a decline in clay resources. There are at least 24 known brick patterns, Randolph’s being one of the most common. Chilhowie brick was used throughout Virginia from Bristol to Norfolk and sightings have been reported as far away as London and Paris.
Wisteria – $25,000 – $49,999
In the first decade of the College’s history, landscaping of the campus was steadily improved and beautified with the planting of maples along the main driveway, dogwoods on the eastern slope of front campus, and magnolias flanking Main Hall.
Twining shrubs of lavender wisteria that frame the entrance of Main Hall were planted in 1899, and quickly became a sentimental icon; they are even depicted in the flower-bordered College china pattern used for decades in the dining halls and now collectors’ items. The wisteria’s showy color and fragrance welcome all spring visitors to campus.
The Dell – $10,000 – $24,999
The Dell, the College’s natural outdoor theatre, has been the venue for the Greek plays since 1909. A flagstone stage, designed to duplicate the exact dimensions of the stage in Epidauras, was built in 1939 on the anniversary of the twenty-fifth theatrical production and dedicated to Professor of Greek Miss Mabel Whiteside, who taught from 1904 to 1954.
The Whiteside Memorial fund, established in 1960, along with other gifts, made possible the terracing of the hillside facing the stage and the construction of eleven tiers of flagstone seats for 1,000. Completed in 1965, it was formerly dedicated as The Mabel Kate Whiteside Greek Theatre in Miss Mabel’s memory. The Dell continues to be a beautiful and vibrant part of the campus, the scene of outdoor concerts, performances, and Commencements since 1969.
The tradition of performing Greek plays, discontinued in the mid-1950s, was revived in 2000 with the staging of Antigone under the direction of Professor of Classics Amy R. Cohen.
The Sundial Society – $5,000 – $9,999
For Founder’s Day 1915, the student body gave the College a sundial. Each student enrolled in 1914-15 contributed fifteen cents towards its purchase. It was placed in the middle of front campus, directly across from Main’s front entrance, and a circle of boxwood was planted around it.
In the fall of 1974, R-MWC was gifted another sundial, this one much larger and set on a brick base. It was given in memory of Mary Charles Conlee ’70 by her father. This new sundial was carefully aligned in the open space between Smith, Wright, and West Halls by retired Professor of Astronomy Marguerite Risley ’42, and Thomas Michalik, professor of physics and astronomy.
1891 – $1,891 to $4,999
Randolph College was officially founded as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College on March 10, 1891, although it wasn’t opened to students until September 14, 1893. The Randolph-Macon Board of Trustees, incorporated in 1830, founded the original men’s college in Boydton, Virginia.
Sixty years later, under the leadership of William Waugh Smith, the Randolph-Macon System of colleges and preparatory schools was established. The site of the future R-MWC campus was given by the Rivermont Land Company of Lynchburg after initial plans to locate in Ashland (where the men’s college had moved) were abandoned.
The city in the late 19th century was considered very wealthy and prosperous. Local citizens raised $100,000 to establish an endowment for the institution.
Conway Bell – $1,000 to $1,890*
The name Conway has been associated with the College since 1905, when the bell in the tower above Main Hall was named for P.V.D. Conway, a College trustee and father of an R-MWC student. Made in 1855, the bell originally hung in the tower of old St. Paul’s Church at Seventh and Church Streets. At the time of its purchase, it had not been rung for a decade. It weighed 900 pounds.
William Waugh Smith’s poem, “When Conway Calls,” was written for the installation. From then on, the Conway Bell was used regularly to announce classes, exams, and special occasions. The College’s first giving society, The Conway Club, was established in 1967. Now, the new Conway Society embodies this beloved symbol that alumnae treasure, remembering its melodious ring from their days on campus.
*The Young Conway Society recognizes annual gifts from recent graduates. There are two tiers to qualify, $100 to $499 for donors who have graduated within the last five years and $500 to $999 for donors who have graduated within the last six to ten years.