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In 1868, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong founded Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute for formerly enslaved African Americans and their descendants. The educational program was designed to train “the head, the hand and the heart”—”the head” through strong academic class work, “the hand” through manual labor and vocational training, and “the heart” through an emphasis on service, selflessness and Christianity. As the academic program evolved from that of a secondary school into a four-year college, and then into a university, the school’s name changed to Hampton Institute (1930) and then to Hampton University (1984).
Hampton University was started with the purchase of a small farm known as “Little Scotland,” today the University encompasses 254 acres and includes 118 buildings. The staff and student body have grown from two teachers and fifteen students to over 300 faculty, 600 support staff, and 5,700 students.

This campus tour guide highlights special buildings and landmarks from the early years to today’s beautiful, enriched historic campus.

Begin this self-guiding tour at any of the sites identified within this guide.

Be sure to visit our state-of-the-art Student Center. The new 3-story, 155,000 square-foot Student Center is located on the corner of Marshall Avenue and Soldier’s Home Road. The Student Center includes a one-screen movie theater; a six-lane bowling alley; a food court, an apparel shop; an aerobic workout room and fitness center; an indoor track; a grand ballroom with retractable inner walls that can divide the large room into three smaller ballrooms; television lounges; a game room; reading/study rooms/meeting rooms/and offices for the student government, Dean of Men and Dean of Women, the Office of Student Activities, the Hamptonian Yearbook, the Hampton Script Student Newspaper, and each student class from freshmen to senior.

To begin the campus walking tour, start from Whipple Barn which houses Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar offices, Student Accounts and Cashier Window. Visit the 15-acre National Historic Landmark District located along the Hampton River and then proceed to discover the first National Historic Landmark Buildings. While walking, enjoy the other magnificent sites that the campus has to offer.

1. Harvey Library
The William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library is located at the entrance to the University, on Tyler Street. It houses two large murals created by alumnus John Biggers: House of the Turtle and Tree House. These large, colorful murals enliven the library’s atrium and offer all who enter a rich, visual history of the University. For an in-depth interpretation of the murals and a history of the University, visitors are encouraged to refer to the video Stories of Illumination and Growth: The Creation of the Hampton Murals, available for purchase in the University Museum Gift shop.

2. Emancipation Oak
Near the library, at the corner of Tyler Street and Emancipation Drive, is the Emancipation Oak Tree. This historic tree is the site where, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was read to people in Hampton for the first time. The tree spans 98 feet in diameter and has been cited by the National Geographic Society as one of the ten great trees in the world.

3. Booker T. Washington
Directly across from the Emancipation Oak and behind the Harvey Library is the Booker T. Washington Memorial. Erected in 1984, this statue commemorates the historic acts of Booker T. Washington — Hampton’s most famous alumnus and a member of the class of 1875 — and his contributions to all Americans.


4. National Cemetery
Walk to the corner of Marshall Avenue and Cemetery Road. The National Cemetery is located at this entrance, and just behind the National Cemetery is the University Cemetery. The entrance for the University Cemetery is on Orchard Avenue. The Cemetery’s location marks the outskirts of the original campus and is the final resting place of the University’s founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, as well as a number of former Hampton students, faculty and staff.
Continue to Clarke Hall, on the corner of Marshall and Huntington Avenues.

5. Clarke Hall
This University's Clarke Hall is home to Charles White’s mural, The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America (1943). The mural is located in the Wainwright Auditorium, on the building’s second floor. The image features an array of historic figures, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, Lead Belly and Marian Anderson.

6. Academy Building
Designed by the well known New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, the building was dedicated in 1881 as a classroom facility. It replaced Academic Hall (1869), the first major building constructed by the school, which was destroyed by fire in 1879.

7. Memorial Chapel
Designed by J. Cleveland Cady and built in 1886, the architectural style of the chapel is Italian Romanesque Revival. The bell tower stands 150 ft. high and has a clock on all four sides. The twelve bells, the largest of which weighs 2,000 lbs., toll on the hour and can be heard throughout campus. As you enter the chapel, note the oversized wooden doors. They were built on a grand scale to welcome all those who entered the building. The woodwork, furniture and iron work on the interior of the chapel are the handiwork of student craftsmen. Inside, note the faces at the ends of the arches located around the chapel. They represent the African American and Native American students for whom this church was built. The chapel is still used today as a nondenominational sanctuary, with services every Sunday, except holidays.

To the left of the chapel is the Academy Building. Continue down the path to the left of the chapel to the Mansion House.


8. Mansion House
Built c.1828, this was the home of the owner of “Little Scotland,” the 125-acre trading plantation that was purchased in 1868 to found the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. The only extant structure from the time of the school’s establishment, it originally served as the house for the principal, his family and the faculty. Mansion House has undergone several renovations and additions and now contains 36 rooms. It continues to serve as the home of the University president and his family.
Continue diagonally to the left of Mansion House to Virginia Cleveland Hall.

9. Virginia-Cleveland Hall
Designed by Richard Morris Hunt and completed in 1874, Virginia Hall was a multi-purpose building housing women students, female faculty, the dining hall, print shop, laundry and other industrial rooms as well as a chapel that seated 400 people for the daily services. This hall was said to have been “sung up” by the Hampton Singers who toured the country giving benefit performances to raise money. In 1901, Cleveland Hall was built adjacent to Virginia Hall, adding 114 rooms. Now called Virginia-Cleveland Hall, the building still services as a dormitory for freshmen women and houses the University’s student cafeterias.

Continue your tour on the back side of Virginia-Cleveland Hall, moving right, diagonally around Ogden Circle to the Wigwam.

10. Ogden Hall
Known as a cultural center in Hampton Roads. Stands in the memory of Robert Ogden, President (1894-1914).


11. Hampton University Museum
Established in 1868, the Hampton University Museum is the oldest African American museum in the United States and one of the oldest museums in the state of Virginia. Its holdings feature over 9,000 objects including traditional African, Native American, Asian & Pacific Island art; fine arts; and objects relating to the history of the University. Among the Museum’s treasures are:

• An African collection of approximately 3,500 objects, including one of the world’s first and finest collections of Kuba art;

• A Native American collection of approximately 1,600 objects, built in association with the school’s historic American Indian education program;

• A fine arts collection of over 1,500 works including one of the nation’s best collections of Harlem Renaissance art and a significant 19th-century collection. Among the Museum’s best-loved works are a number of pieces by Henry O. Tanner, including Tanner’s famous painting, The Banjo Lesson of 1893.

In April of 1997, the Museum relocated to the newly renovated Huntington Memorial Building (formerly the University Library) in Ogden Circle.

The Hampton University Museum and Museum Store are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.;
Saturday, noon-4 p.m.
Closed all major holidays
Phone: (757) 727-5308 Fax: (757) 727-5170

12. Wigwam
Originally called the “Indian Cottage,” this 1878 dormitory was home for 100 Native American male students. The renowned African American and Hampton graduate Booker T. Washington was the “house father” of this dorm before leaving Hampton in 1881 to found Tuskegee Institute. Today, the Wigwam houses administrative offices.

Hampton University
Office of Admissions
Hampton, Virginia 23668