Breaking through barriers is what we do.
While most of the early US universities were built with chapels at their center, the University of Virginia was the first in the nation designed and built around a library. While many others were staffed with homegrown academics, Jefferson insisted on opening UVA with the best faculty from Europe. And while the structure of many institutions reinforced a hierarchical relationship between faculty and students, from the very beginning UVA students and faculty lived and collaborated side-by-side in the Academical Village.
Stand on the Lawn and you’ll see what makes this place so distinctive. The architecture is the physical embodiment of Jefferson’s educational vision. The pavilions punctuate the Lawn with different examples of classical architecture carefully selected to surround UVA scholars with the best examples history could offer.
Lawn Alumni Challenge gifts help repair hotels and colonnades, preserve gardens and landscapes, and restore Lawn and Range rooms.
Today, the UVA community continues to meet, learn, and celebrate on the Lawn—740 feet of lush grass and towering trees surrounded by these architectural gems.
Kirsten White (Engr ’17) who studies computer science at the University, sees the Lawn as the symbol of UVA. When she isn’t in class or studying, she often enjoys watching one of the many UVA traditions unfolding on the sprawling green. She recalls members of the Society of the Purple Shadows, clothed in purple robes, walking single file on the Lawn to Jefferson’s statue, where they hung a wreath and placed a letter in honor of his birthday. White particularly loves Lighting of the Lawn. “I love Christmas, and the Lighting of the Lawn always makes me think of the holidays,” she said.
As an undergraduate, foreign affairs major Marion Roehse (Col ’88) spent time on the Lawn too, often meeting friends in between classes. Now living in Germany, she recently visited Charlottesville and, with her daughter, visited the historic site. “This is the heart of UVA,” Roehse said, standing on the Lawn in front of the Rotunda.
Maria Gutierrez Norin (Col ’90) describes her time living in 38 East Lawn as the “culmination of the four years that made me who I am.” She and her husband, John, share a commitment to preserving the Academical Village for future generations, as evidenced by their endowment of Maria’s Lawn room as a kick-off to the Lawn Alumni Challenge.
Lawn Alumni Challenge gifts like theirs will help with much needed repairs to the hotels and colonnades, preservation of the gardens and landscapes, and restoring the Lawn and Range rooms.
Historic preservationist and former Lawn resident Ben Phipps (Col ’55, Law ’58) understands the need. “When I was a student, the bricks were disintegrating because the modern cement used to repoint them was the wrong pH and it was causing damage,” he recalls. The art of preservation has come a long way since then, and UVA takes these advances to heart.
The Lawn Alumni Challenge is a key part of the University’s plan to preserve the Academical Village for future generations. Lawn alumni participate by making a gift to any part of the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative or by endowing or sponsoring their rooms. All contributions count toward Lawn room, class year, and West versus East totals. This friendly competition is featured on the new Lawn Alumni Challenge website and its interactive leaderboard. Check out the Lawn Alumni Challenge website for progress to date.
The University is committed to stewarding the legacy of the Lawn and Academical Village soundly into the future. With the help of generous gifts from alumni, parents, and friends, future generations of students, scholars, and visitors will continue to experience the unique power of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.