By the 1820s, clergy of the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church had
recognized a need to educate prospective clergymen in the fields of English, history,
and geography, so that they could pass required examinations for entrance into the
ministry. This growing need, coupled with the rise of more cities with more learned
congregations, called for the establishment of a liberal arts college where prospective
ministers could study and learn the art of communication with urban townspeople.
In 1830, the Virginia legislature approved a charter for Randolph-Macon College
to be located in Boydton, Virginia near the border of North Carolina. The names
of John Randolph (left), a Virginia statesman, and Nathaniel Macon (right), a North
Carolina statesman, were given to the college to dispel the notion that the school
was to be only a sectarian one. Neither man was Methodist.
The college was moved to Ashland, Virginia, in 1868 after the railroads to
Boydton were destroyed during the Civil War. The move to Ashland challenged the
college's spirit and stimulated new growth. The students themselves raised most
of the funds for the first major building constructed on the new campus — Washington
and Franklin Hall, a national historic landmark that was completely renovated in
1987. In this century, Randolph-Macon's campus has grown to more than 60 major buildings
on 105 acres.