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Brafferton (building)

The Brafferton, built in 1723, is located southeast of the Sir Christopher Wren Building, facing the President's House on the campus of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

History of the building

The Brafferton was constructed in 1723 to house the College's Indian school, which was endowed by funds from the estate of Robert Boyle, the noted English scientist. Income from Brafferton Manor in Yorkshire, England, designated for charitable and pious purposes, was used to "civilize" Indian youth, prepare them for Anglican priesthood—and produce interpreters and cultural liaisons who could aid Britain's colonial expansion. This undertaking met with little success, and at the time of the American Revolution, income from the Boyle estate was discontinued, and the Indian school was abandoned. The house was damaged during the American Civil War and the College spent $3,000 for repairs.

From the start the establishment met Indian resistance to enrolling and boarding their children there. Much of the enrollment was forced, with various groups dispatching captive children from enemy tribes to Brafferton. This was the case for the first six students. Enrollment waxed in eras of frontier conflict and waned at other times. In 1712 there were 20 Indian scholars; by 1721 there were none. Attendance revived after construction of a dedicated building in 1723.

Throughout the years, the building served as a residence for professors, a dormitory for students, an armory for the Wise Light Infantry, and an alumni office. Additionally, it has temporarily housed other offices, fine arts classes, and even the Music Department for a short period of time. Since 1985, the Brafferton has housed the offices of the president and the provost of the College.


  • University Archives Buildings File (2007). Brafferton. Earl Gregg Swem Library, The College of William and Mary.
  • Virginia Vignettes - What Was the Brafferton School? [1]
  • The Brafferton- [2]

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