Little Known Facts About W&M

As the second oldest university in the United States, William & Mary has collected a load of interesting facts and accomplishments. This blog post contains an accumulation of some little known and interesting facts about our university!

Most people know how William & Mary is the second oldest college in America, but did you know that William & Mary was planned ahead of Harvard? While Harvard opened first, original plans for the college began in 1618 for a location in Henrico, VA, but were later abandoned. With this being said, William & Mary was planned before Williamsburg was even a town. Williamsburg was developed in honor of King William III and became the new capital in 1699. 

Have you ever taken a class in the Wren Building? To put into perspective how historically significant this academic building is, construction began in 1695! While renovated to upkeep the structural integrity, The Wren Building remains the oldest American college building still in use. The Wren building housed the legislature during the construction of the new capitol. 

William & Mary went on to become the first college to have a full faculty, elective system, honor system, a fraternity (Phi Beta Kappa), programs in modern languages, political economy, and modern history. Do you live in the Botetourt complex? Did you know that Lord Botetourt donated gold medals for the college’s first collection of medallic prizes? In 1779, William & Mary was the first college in America to open a law school, making it the first university in the nation. Over its time, the university has educated three U.S. presidents including Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. George Washington also received his surveyor’s license at William & Mary! William & Mary received a statue of Thomas Jefferson as a gift from the University of Virginia, (Thomas Jefferson founded UVA!), in 1993 that can be found between Washington Hall and McGlothlin Hall. 

You might be familiar with Lodge 1 In the ground floor of the Sadler Center, but do you know where the name originated from? Lodge 1 was originally the location of an 8th lodge on campus. Since demolished for the construction and expansion of the Sadler Center, a lodge was a small house-like residential option. The Sunken Garden did not actually sink on its own, but was designed after the Chelsea Hospital gardens in London and was initially used as a campground for troops. 

More recently, William & Mary’s student body and alumni have maintained impressive accomplishments. William & Mary is considered a public ivy for its prestigious academic program. 83% of classes at W&M have fewer than 40 students and nearly 50% have fewer than 20 students! As of 2020, for 12 years in a row, William & Mary was named a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers. 


“The College of William and Mary.” Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Accessed 30 July 2023. 

“Cool Facts.” William & Mary, Accessed 30 July 2023. 

Eickel, Ryan, and Elsewhere on W&M Blogs. “Sir Christopher Wren and 5 Other Little Known Facts about the College.” The William & Mary Blogs, 10 Oct. 2014, 

Frances WongFrances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television. “10 Fun Facts about the College of William and Mary.” AdmitSee, 17 Sept. 2021, “History & Traditions.” William & Mary, Accessed 30 July 2023.

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