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Fredericksburg College

Fredericksburg, Virginia



The University of Mary Washington provided pages from History of the Presbyterian Church, incorporating a history of Fredericksburg College.  On December 1, 2001 the local Fredericksburg newspaper, The Free Lance-Star, did a special on a 1911 football game at Fredericksburg College which resulted in a player’s death, and in so doing, showed a number of photos of the college and its students.


Fredericksburg College was an outgrowth of the Female Orphan Asylum, an institution for the care of orphans of ministers and missionaries.  Fulfilling the dreams of Reverend A. P. Saunders, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church approved the creation of the Assembly Home and School, which opened in Fredericksburg in September of 1893.  The mission of the institution quickly broadened, as it became a “high grade” co-educational school for the Fredericksburg area. 


It contained a primary division, a one-year preparatory division, and a three-year collegiate division, focusing on liberal arts.  Advertisements in 1899 showed that it also had programs in music, art, elocution, physical culture and business.

By 1894 the school was chartered as Fredericksburg College; a year later the collegiate program was increased to four years, and enrollment had reached 195 students.  Two years later, however, the school was experiencing financial problems.  But because many local people saw its value to the community, the city of Fredericksburg issued $10,000 in bonds to fund ten scholarships for local students. 


In 1897 the Presbyterian General Assembly separated the Home from the College and ordered that the college and its property be sold off.  In 1898 the school was sold to a private operation, and it continued through various owners until 1914.   Finally in 1914 it was closed for good.  One of the reasons for the closure was competition from the state-sponsored normal school (now University of Mary Washington), which had opened in Fredericksburg in 1908.


Fredericksburg College was very strong in music with an orchestra and a chorus; students regularly offered recitals.  

Bricks and Mortar

The main academic building of Fredericksburg College was the Chew House. Built in 1796, it was two stories high and made of wood.  Eleven slave quarters were in the rear.  Damaged by Union troops in 1862, it was enlarged to house the Assembly Home and School.  It later became Stoner’s Store, a history museum.  Today it is a private residence. 


Smithsonia Building was built in 1834 as the Female Orphanage Asylum.  It became part of the Assembly Home and School and later served as a boys’ dormitory for Fredericksburg College.  Like Chew House, it is now a private residence.

"Chew House," (Fredericksburg: City of Hospitals, Item #54, accessed 1-20-2017 <>). 

"Smithsonia" Photo by Paula Lucy Delosh accessed 1-20-2017 (<>) 


Fredericksburg College played football off and on between 1897 and 1913 according to the College Football Data Warehouse.   Their most common opponent was Randolph-Macon College at nearby Ashland, a team they played nine times, winning three and tying one.  According to The Free Lance-Star the team averaged seven wins each season “over several years” going undefeated and unscored on in 1901.  The 1911 team, featured in the Free Lance-Star, defeated Newport News High School twice 17-5 and 14-0, the independent Richmond Howitzers 11-0 and the Richmond Blues 6-0, lost to Maryland Aggies 5-0, to Woodberry Forest 20-0 and Medical College of Virginia 6-0 and played scoreless ties with Randolph-Macon, Richmond, and William and Mary.


The Free Lance-Star notes that the 1898 baseball team twice defeated Yale by 10-0 scores. 

1913 Fredericksburg College football team.  (National Collegiate Athletic Association Official Football Guide , accessed 1-10-2017


Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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