Hopwood Reaches Landmark Status

Katherine Graves, Assistant Editor~

Hopwood Hall is now the first Lynchburg College building to become a Virginia Landmark, thanks to the work of LC professors Dr. Clifton Potter and Dr. Dorothy Potter.

The process of getting Hopwood Hall recognized as a Virginia Landmark took around a year and required about 100 pages of paperwork and help from LC President Dr. Kenneth Garren, Dr. Michael Pulice of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Boyce Hamlet of LC’s Physical Plant and Ariel Myers of the LC Library.

Dr. Clifton Potter, marshal of the college and a history professor, and Dr. Dorothy Potter, a retired history professor and a current professor emerita, are married to one another and met as undergraduate LC students when they had a class together in Hopwood Hall.

“[Hopwood Hall is] where I began my education, where I did most of my work as a teacher,” stated Dr. Dorothy Potter. “I always feel like I’m coming home when I come back and teach in Hopwood.”

Hopwood Hall ca1909 unedited.jpg
Students pose in front of new Hopwood Hall. Retrieved from Lynchburg College archives. Circa 1909.


Drs. Dorothy and Clifton Potter stated that, as students, they both had their first classes in Hopwood Hall and, as teachers, they both taught their first classes in Hopwood Hall. Dr. Dorothy Potter also said she taught her last class in Hopwood Hall before she retired.

“[Hopwood Hall] is the academic heart, for us, of Lynchburg College,” Dr. Clifton Potter said.

To begin the process of getting Hopwood Hall recognized as a Virginia Landmark, they contacted the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and downloaded the necessary forms. They then collected data and took thorough photography of the building. This data included the building’s geographic information, previous uses, renovations and architectural drawings.

“I read every issue of the Critograph because one of the things I had to do was to list the famous individuals who have performed or spoke in Hopwood Hall since 1909,” said Dr. Clifton Potter.

Their work paid off this past June when Hopwood Hall was one of 24 buildings that received recognition as Virginia Landmarks.

Hopwood Hall before Convocation. Photo by Savannah Martin. Aug. 19, 2017.


Hopwood Hall is also now under consideration to become a National Historic Landmark. When the Virginia Department of Historic Resources recognized the building as a Virginia Landmark, they then forwarded the information they had received to the the National Park Service, which will consider. Hopwood Hall for National Historic Landmark status. Dr. Clifton Potter stated that they will likely know by sometime in the fall if Hopwood Hall receives the second recognition.

During the Civil War, the land near Hopwood Hall was part of the battle line during the Battle of Lynchburg, which took place June 17 and 18, 1864. The land was primarily used as farmland until a resort was built on the land. When the resort failed, Dr. Josephus Hopwood bought the land and founded Virginia Christian College (VCC), which later became LC.

When Hopwood was a Civil War Union soldier, he was captured and taken to Belle Isle near Richmond, Virginia. As a prisoner, he noticed that the Confederate prison guards couldn’t read or write since there was no public education in Virginia at the time, stated Drs. Clifton and Dorothy Potter. So Hopwood swore that, if he survived, he would return to Virginia and build a school.

Completed in 1909, Hopwood Hall was built as an administration building and the second VCC building, stated Dr. Clifton Potter.

“[Hopwood Hall] is a well-loved building,” stated Dr. Dorothy Potter. “Dr. Hopwood was very proud of it.”

Dr. Dorothy Potter added that Hopwood would often say that Hopwood Hall was earthquake-proof because of its solid structure. Drs. Clifton and Dorothy Potter agreed that Hopwood Hall has not experienced any damage from past earthquakes. Dr. Clifton Potter stated that Carnegie Hall is earthquake-proof as well.

When asked about their favorite parts of Hopwood Hall, Drs. Clifton and Dorothy Potter agreed that they enjoyed the the old auditorium which is now a multipurpose room. Dr. Clifton Potter also added that he was especially fond of Room 026, where he and his wife met.

Drs. Clifton and Dorothy Potter plan to work chronologically to help the buildings at Lynchburg College to become landmarks. Buildings must be at least 50 years old to be recognized, stated Dr. Dorothy Potter.

They are currently working toward getting Carnegie Hall recognized as a landmark. Dr. Clifton Potter stated that they have almost all of the data completed for the paperwork on Carnegie Hall.

After Carnegie Hall receives the designation, they will then work toward getting Hall Campus Center, which was built as a memorial gym for the soldiers who died in World War I, recognized, and after that, they will start the same process for Hundley Hall.

Drs. Clifton and Dorothy Potter stated that they are interested in having students help with the work they will have to do for Carnegie Hall to become a landmark. Specifically, they could use help going through all of the old issues of the Critograph for any information on events that took place in Carnegie Hall.

Students who are interested in helping Carnegie Hall to become a Virginia Landmark can contact Dr. Clifton Potter by email at potter.c@lynchburg.edu.

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