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History Of Bridgewater College

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

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. You’ll hear the bell on your first day of classes and on the day you graduate. If you’re on an athletic team at BC, 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.

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

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.

The special Founder’s Day convocation is the first time that seniors have the chance to process as a class, wearing their caps and gowns. Several faculty are honored during the convo with awards recognizing their work.

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.