William & Mary

City: Williamsburg
State: VA
Zip: 23187-8795
Website: https://www.wm.edu/

Chartered in 1693, William & Mary is the second oldest institution of higher learning in the country. The original campus included three buildings around the campus yard: the Wren Building, the President’s House and Brafferton.

In the early 1920s, Virginia landscape architect Charles F. Gillette and Richmond architect Charles M. Robinson planned a new campus west of these iconic colonial structures. Their design, in the Beaux-Arts style, included a “Sunken Garden” surrounded by academic buildings on the north and south sides. Circulation routes connected areas of the campus with small, contemplative gardens tucked between the buildings.

Reveley Garden

Gillette’s vision for a garden within an outer, diamond-shaped space was never realized. All that remained of his plan were circular steps leading to a utility corridor with crisscrossed paths connecting the buildings. In recognition and honor of the achievements of retiring president Taylor Reveley and his wife, Helen, the Garden Club of Virginia collaborated with William & Mary to bring Gillette’s garden plan to life.

Demolition of existing walks and storm drains, utility upgrades, new storm water inlets, installation of light poles, and rough grading were completed by William & Mary in the first phase of construction. The elevation was raised at the western end which established a ridge lengthwise through the garden between the circular steps to the east and the ellipse to the west.

The Garden Club of Virginia installed looping, geometrically executed, and precisely graded brick walks that weave together to provide a path through the garden and between the buildings. A central feature is a pair of custom designed metal arbors with benches that will soon be shaded by yellow climbing roses. New shade trees expand The Baldwin Memorial Collection of Woody Species and were selected in consultation with the Conservator of Botanical Collections and the Associate Director of Gardens and Grounds. The existing much-loved mulberry tree has retained its place of honor in front of Jefferson Hall.

Completed 100 years later, the Reveley Garden might be more accurately described as a modern interpretation of Gillette’s design. However, the garden reflects the spirit and intention of Gillette’s original plan while creating an elegant place for contemplation, study and socializing.

William & Mary