Events planned to commemorate history and mark anniversary.
The George Washington University celebrates a century in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood in 2012, and a full slate of historical, educational and social events are planned to mark the anniversary.
Some highlights of the celebration include a George Washington’s Birthday Bonfire at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22, in University Yard, and a “Seen in Foggy Bottom” exhibition of artifacts, paintings and prints from the university’s collection highlighting important people and places in GW’s history. The exhibit, held in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 21 to 23, will also include artworks created by GW students over the years, providing their perspectives of campus at the time when each student lived here. Complimentary hot drinks will be offered to visitors to the exhibits from 10 to noon on Feb. 21 and 23.
GW students, faculty and community members are invited to meet “The Real George” during a panel discussion with historians and experts on the former president and university namesake. The event, held Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in Jack Morton Auditorium, will focus on George Washington’s leadership qualities and character, and will separate myths from facts.
Kenneth Bowling, an adjunct professor of history and co-editor of the First Federal Congress Project, will speak at the “Real George” event. Patricia Brady, a historian and author, and Dennis Pogue, vice president of preservation and chief archeologist at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, will also participate.
“George Washington was a masterful politician,” Dr. Bowling said. “But I’m also going to talk about one of his greatest failures—his inability, despite his political prominence, to convince the Congress that it should establish a national university.”
Dr. Bowling said that the old stories that are constantly circulated about George Washington—such the cherry tree tale—usually have some basis in fact, such as early biographies of the first president, but may also be exaggerated for purposes of illustration. He and the other panelists will explore some of these tall tales.
“Voices: Celebrating the African American Legacy in Foggy Bottom,” scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in Jack Morton Auditorium, will feature the stories and memories of black Foggy Bottom residents who have lived in the neighborhood for many years. These residents will discuss how the neighborhood and the city in general has changed, and how these changes have affected their lives. A reception will follow.
Michael Peller, assistant vice president for events and venues, said that it is important to recognize that Foggy Bottom is much more than just GW’s home—it’s an important part of the larger city.
“The events will have interest for neighbors, friends, students, faculty, staff and alumni,” he said. “We’ll commemorate George Washington University as part of the historic Foggy Bottom.”
Other events will include the men’s basketball team’s homecoming game on Feb. 18, which will feature the 2012 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees and special centennial-themed giveaways. The women’s basketball team will celebrate its Senior Night and will also include centennial giveaways on Feb. 22. Additional centennial events will be scheduled throughout the academic year, and updates will be added to GW’s Foggy Bottom centennial website.
GW began its century in Foggy Bottom in 1912, when the university purchased 2023 G Street as its first building for the new campus. Twelve years later, in 1924, the university built Corcoran Hall, the first structure constructed specifically for university use in Foggy Bottom. GW’s first Foggy Bottom residence hall—the Hattie M. Strong Residence Hall for Women—was built in 1934. Since then, GW has grown into its role as a university “in and of” the District of Columbia.