Ronald L. Andrews
Washington College: Middle, East, and West Halls
K-1, K-2, K-3
Washington Avenue, Chestertown, Kent County
Middle, East, and West Halls stand on the crest of a low hill (the terrace) at the center of the Washington College campus. The slope to the south (front) is landscaped with large trees and a flight of steps lined with shrubs leading up to the entrance of Middle Hall. Middle Hall, built in 1844, is the largest of the three brick structures--57-'2"x 45'-3". It is three stories tall and five bays wide by four deep; it sits on a raised basement of coursed granite blocks. The brick walls are laid in all stretcher bond. It has a hip roof covered with standing seam metal. Early drawings and photographs show that the building had a large cupola at the peak of the roof, removed some time after 1936. Four large, original chimneys have also been removed. East and West Halls were built in 1854 flanking Middle Hall. They are smaller, but similar stylistically to Middle Hall. Both are 36'-1" x 50'-4", three stories tall and three bays wide. East Hall is six bays deep while West Hall is only five. They are also laid in all stretcher bond on a raised basement of coursed granite block. The hip roofs on these buildings have a very shallow pitch, unlike that on Middle Hall. They have bracketed cornices.
Washington College, chartered on May 24, 1782, is Maryland's oldest college. It is the only private college on Maryland's Eastern Shore and holds the distinction of having been named after George Washington with his expressed consent. Washington contributed the sum of 50 guineas to the original endowment, later served as a Visitor and Governor (trustee), and was granted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1789. Under its founding President, William Smith, the college began construction of its first building in 1783. Named "Common Building" and completed in 1789, it was destroyed by fire on January 11, 1827. Until the building was erected, it is assumed that classes were held in various town buildings. Middle Hall (1844) and East and West Halls (1854) hold a special place in the history of Washington College in that they are the oldest surviving campus buildings and serve as monuments to the original Common Building, whose site they occupy.