WILLIAMSBURG -- The oldest law school in the United States has moved into its new building.
Designed eventually to accommodate 600 students at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary, the $5.1 million structure, located adjacent to the National Center for State Courts, will be formally dedicated at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13.
Classes will begin in the building this morning and William B. Spong Jr., law school dean, took reporters on a tour yesterday as students and faculty members were becoming acquainted with the area.
Spong pointed out to reporters the items of historical interest, such as two stained class windows in the foyer. They were given by All Souls College of Oxford University recognizing the 200th anniversary last year of the nation's first professorship of law, established at William and Mary in 1779.
He also pointed to a rare book room, decorated in 18th century motif.
There are five rugs on the highly polished parquet floors of the foyer. Those, he added, also were gifts and no tax funds were involved.
The only thing not completed is the moot court room, which, Spong said, will be one of the most technologically advanced in the nation. Financed through federal grants and private foundation gifts, it will have extensive audio and videotaping equipment with some television camera placed in the ceiling.
Spong said he hoped construction of the courtroom, which was a separate contract from the rest of the building, would be completed prior to the dedication ceremony.
The moot court room is adjacent to administrative offices and just off the foyer that runs through the building, providing a link between the law classroom wing and the national center building and the law school library wing. The law library, which for years has been scattered throughout the main campus, has been consolidated, maybe for the first time since Colonial times. The library can accommodate about 250,000 volumes and currently there are 150,000. On the lower level of the library, the dean pointed to a new stack arrangement that allows for the shelves to be located back to back and moved by a mechanical apparatus so that books can be removed. Thus, less than half the normal area is required. Books in this area, Spong said, are items that are infrequently used, but are important.
Spong said, "We're probably so pleased with this building that it's difficult to be low-key about it." He said he believed it was functional, "but you have to see what students and faculty do with a building to determine whether it is really functional or not."
Richmond Times-Dispatch at C-4 (August 27, 1980)
Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Classes to Start at New W&M Law Site" (1980). 1976–1985: William B. Spong, Jr.. 29.