Lee Chapel and Museum
Robert E. Lee, then president of Washington College, built Lee Chapel in 1867, and used it as a building for college activities in addition to attending worship with his students. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1961, the building includes the Lee family crypt on the lower level, and a state-of-the-art museum with exhibitions that trace the history and heritage of W&L. The ivy that covers the front of Lee Chapel was brought from Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home.
Lee Chapel was restored in 1962-63 with the support of the Ford Motor Company. In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the University, a second renovation was completed in 1998 on the museum, which is housed in the basement rooms Lee used as his office. The Chapel and museum contain some outstanding examples of art. In 1870, the Lee Memorial Association commissioned Richmond sculptor Edward Valentine to create a likeness of Lee. Valentine delivered the recumbent statue of Lee to the University in 1882, and it was placed in the chapel in 1883, where it was unveiled by Stonewall Jackson’s daughter. The statue now is the centerpiece of the memorial chapel.
Lee Chapel also holds an important collection of portraits called the Washington-Custis-Lee Collection. The collection includes Charles Willson Peale's famous portrait of George Washington wearing the uniform of a colonel in the British army and Theodore Pine's portrait of Robert E. Lee, which depicts him in Confederate uniform.
Today, Lee Chapel, which seats around 620, is primarily used for prominent speakers and special ceremonies like ODK and Phi Beta Kappa inductions, alumni weddings, and first-year orientation.