At the ripe old age of 283, the President’s House at the College of William & Mary in colonial Williamsburg, VA, still looks grand.
In 1732, William Dawson, who was president of William & Mary at the time, described his future home as a “common” brick house for the school’s leader. But it’s anything but common. Completed in 1733, the nearly 7,900-square-foot, Georgian Colonial-style President’s House at William & Mary is the oldest official residence for a college president in the U.S.
The President’s House at the College of William & Mary dates back to the 1730s.
Photo: Battlefields and Tasting Rooms
The three-story, red-brick structure not only has been home to every William & Mary president except one, but it also has welcomed dignitaries such George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.
We think Queen Elizabeth would agree that, to this day, the William & Mary President’s House is stately and regal. For that reason, the house claims the No. 1 spot on our list of the 16 Most Picturesque Homes of College and University Executives. To create the ranking, we combed through dozens of photos and descriptions of homes for college and university presidents and chancellors in the U.S.
1. College of William & Mary
Photo: College of William & Mary
Why We Like It: The President’s House at the College of William & Mary is elegant without a hint of pretense. Exterior highlights of the beautiful pre-Revolutionary War home include five bay windows and two chimneys.
2. University of Alabama
Photo: Tumblr/Splendor in the South
Why We Like It: The gorgeous President’s Mansion at Bama, designed by architect William Nichols and completed in 1841, “is one of the outstanding examples of Greek Revival architecture in the nation,” according to the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society. “It is one of four structures of the original university that survived the campus’ burning during the Civil War.” The mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
3. North Carolina State University
Photo: Bit & Grain
Why We Like It: North Carolina State’s chancellor lives at The Point, completed in 2011 with $3 million in private donations. Marvin Malecha, former dean of the university’s College of Design, designed the house, which measures about 8,500 square feet. The red-brick house, overlooking Lake Raleigh, looks contemporary yet traditional; it’s a handsome addition to the NC State campus.
4. Florida State University
Why We Like It: Designed in the Greek Revival architectural style, the 13,000-square-foot President’s House at Florida State mirrors the scale, proportions and materials “of the old plantation homes that are found throughout the region,” according to architecture firm Historical Concepts, which worked on the project. Although the house was completed in 2007, it “stands in classic dignity as a timeless campus landmark. A newcomer might believe it always was there,” Tallahassee magazine says.
5. Florida International University
Ronald W. Reagan Presidential House
Photo: Rodriguez and Quiroga
Why We Like It: With its palm trees, shrubbery and bright yellow exterior, the two-story house, named after President Ronald Reagan, matches the colorful tropical vibe of South Florida. Raul Rodriguez, an architect from nearby Coral Gables, FL, led the design team for the 9,000-square-foot, U-shaped house, which was completed in 2001.
6. Tulane University
New Orleans, LA
Why We Like It: The 15,000-square-foot mansion, designed in the Southern Colonial Revival style, features “massive Corinthian columns and wraparound verandas,” according to NOLA.com. Samuel Zemurray, who amassed his fortune in the banana trade, donated the mansion to Tulane. The house dates back to 1908.
7. University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
Photo: Bit & Grain
Why We Like It: The house, occupied by the president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System, was built in 1907. Architect Frank Pierce Milburn of Washington, DC, designed the home in the modified Greek Revival style. “Its most striking features are the huge Corinthian columns and the deep porch,” university spokeswoman Joni Worthington says.
8. University of South Carolina
Photo: Andy Hunter
Why We Like It: The President’s House is one of several beautiful and historic buildings clustered in the Horseshoe, a horseshoe-shaped, on-campus drive that the university boasts is “indisputably one of the loveliest spots in the city of Columbia.” The house was built in 1854 to replace a faculty house that by one account had been destroyed by fire and by another account had sustained heavy water damage. The building remained a faculty house until the 1840s, when it was transformed into a women’s residence hall. In 1954, it was converted once again — this time to serve as the official home of the university’s president. The university says the structure was “instrumental” in bringing the Regency style of architecture to Columbia.
9. Cornell College
Mount Vernon, IA
Garner President’s House
Photo: Cornell College
Why We Like It: Garner President’s House is the oldest building on the Cornell campus. Built as a private residence in 1850, it was purchased in 1864 by Cornell President William Fletcher King. King donated it to the college upon his retirement in 1908 but continued living there with President Charles Wesley Flint and his family until King died in 1921. The khaki-colored, 10,848-square-foot house — which underwent a massive renovation in 2013 — is a lovely example of Gothic/Victorian architecture.
10. Wake Forest University
Photo: Bit & Grain
Why We Like It: Built in 1929, the Georgian Colonial-style house was donated to Wake Forest in 1988 for use as the president’s residence. “Conceived and designed by famed New England architect Julian Peabody, the house remains a wonderful example of the country estate style popular at the time,” the university says. A well-groomed lawn complements the ivy-covered façade.
11. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Why We Like It: The fountain and small garden in front add nice touches to Bissell House. Other distinctive features of the home include four grand columns at the front entryway and two chimneys. The 7,500-square-foot, red-brick house for the university’s chancellor was completed in 2004.
12. University of California
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Why We Like It: Completed in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, University House serves as the official residence of the chancellor for the Berkeley campus. The impressive 2½-acre site features a formal rose garden, a greenhouse and a flower garden. “University House is an example of the Mediterranean villa type popular at the beginning of the 20th century,” according to NoeHill.com.
13. Yale University
New Haven, CT
Photo: Yale Alumni Magazine
Why We Like It: Railroad baron Henry Farnam donated the dignified 28-room, nearly 21,000-square-foot Victorian mansion to Yale upon his death in 1883. The three-story, red-brick house was built in 1871; it’s among several mansions along New Haven’s Hillhouse Avenue, labeled by author Charles Dickens as “the most beautiful street in America.”
14. Emory University
Screen shot: YouTube/Emory University
Why We Like It: Set amid 154 acres of nature preserve, “Lullwater House combines remnants of the old and new, though it bears little semblance to the Southern antebellum houses of its time and place,” according to The Emory Wheel, the university’s student-run newspaper. “Architecturally, the home evokes the memory of a 16th century English country estate with an exterior of quarried stone and a Vermont slate roof.” The Tudor-style house was built in 1926 for Coca-Cola heir Walter T. Chandler.
15. Furman University
Photo: Furman University
Why We Like It: Built in 1957, White Oaks is a stellar building on a stellar campus. The 9,750-square-foot mansion was donated to the university in 1992 by philanthropist Homozel Mickel Daniel. Furman says the design of the house is based on the restored Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, VA, but White Oaks is “larger and more extensively landscaped.” Drawing inspiration from Italian villas and 18th century American homes, Atlanta architect Philip Trammell Shutze designed this “architectural jewel,” as Furman calls it.
16. Ball State University
Photo: Ball State University
Why We Like It: Bracken House, completed in 1937, is a well-landscaped, red-brick Georgian Revival mansion in Muncie’s historic Westwood neighborhood. Ball State describes it as “a cultural pillar” for the university. The school assumed ownership of the elegant 8,600-square-foot mansion in 1998; Alexander M. and Rosemary Ball Bracken bequeathed it to Ball State.
Top photo: Quantum Engineering Co.