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BC History and Traditions

From 1880 to Now

“Bridgewater Fair, my heart’s sweet care”

When you become a part of the BC community, you become part of a history that goes all the way back to 1880. That’s when a 26 year-old decided to start the Spring Creek Normal School and Collegiate Institute. Daniel Christian (D.C.) Flory opened the school on September 6, 1880, with six students, including one woman. Bridgewater has always admitted women and was the first private liberal arts college in Virginia to do so.

In 1882, the College moved to Bridgewater, Virginia. It gave diplomas to its first graduates on June 18, 1886, and officially became Bridgewater College in July 1889, when it was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia to grant undergraduate degrees.

Ringing the Bell and the Echelon

Photo of Memorial Hall Bell

The oldest building on the current campus, Memorial Hall, opened in September 1890.

Ringing the Memorial Hall bell is a longstanding tradition at BC. If you’re on an athletic team, you’ll get the chance to ring it after a victory. When you hear the bell ring, it’s a moment of celebration that the entire campus shares.

You’ll walk through the Echelon of applauding faculty and staff after Opening Convocation as a first-year student. Accompanied by the ringing of the Memorial bell, the Echelon bookends your time at Bridgewater College. You’ll walk through it again at Commencement when you’ve graduated. Walking through the Echelon the first time signifies your entrance into the Bridgewater College community, and when you walk through it again, you’ll be embarking on the next chapter of your life, supported by the connections you’ve made at BC.

The College Song

Bridgewater’s college song, also known as the alma mater, is “Bridgewater Fair,” written by John Wayland, class of 1899. It is still sung on many special occasions. If you want to sing along, listen to this version, recorded by the BC chorale.

Founder’s Day

Photo of Founder's Day Ceremony

The observance of Founder’s Day began in 1920 and is an annual celebration of BC’s heritage, usually on the first Tuesday in April. The day was chosen to honor D.C. Flory’s birthday, April 3, 1854.

Founder’s Day marks the first time that seniors have the chance to process as a class, wearing their caps and gowns. Outstanding faculty, staff and students are honored with awards for their contributions to the College.

After the ceremony, you’ll have the chance to participate in the annual Medallion Hunt. Hidden somewhere on campus is a wooden medallion, approximately eight inches in diameter, with the Bridgewater College seal. The winning student receives a cash prize!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Students, employees and the community are invited to participate in a community march and other activities honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A service component is often incorporated into the day as Dr. King is remembered for his commitment to integrity, equality, service and community.

The Bridgewater Cup

As a first-year student, you’ll have the opportunity to compete in the Bridgewater Cup with your fellow FILA-150 (Bridgewater’s first-year seminar) classmates. The groups participate in Olympic-style competitions in a variety of team activities and games in hopes of winning the treasured BC Cup, which will be engraved with the winners’ names. The winning group also gets to enjoy a meal with the President.

Holiday Traditions and SpringFest

College celebrations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holidays are always festive, and the week of exams means it’s time for Finals Frenzy, featuring a late-night breakfast and the circulation of the Candy Cart!

Ernie’s Egg Hunt is the signal that we are near Easter, with 300 eggs hidden around campus and a variety of fun prizes. And SpringFest is our end-of-the-year celebration that invites the campus community to come together for food, games and novelty events, promoting fun and relaxation for everyone!

The Eagles

eagle logoCrimson and gold were selected as the College colors in 1903 and first worn by the baseball team. In 1923, “Eagles” was adopted as the name of the Bridgewater athletics teams, thanks to the suggestion of Clarence “Tiny” May ’24, a catcher on the baseball team.


Dr. David W. Bushman became Bridgewater’s ninth president in June 2013 and was inaugurated on April 11, 2014. Bridgewater’s presidents have led BC since the late 1800s to become the thriving liberal arts college it is today.


The College is historically affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. In keeping with its heritage, the College promotes the values of peace, justice, equality, service and human dignity in an inclusive and caring community. Bridgewater is committed to cultivating the full potential of its students to excel in all areas of life.