George Mason University’s Earliest Video Footage, Part 2

This post is Part 2 of 2 parts. Part 1 can be read here.

George Mason College, Fairfax Campus, ca. 1965. Photograph is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection.



Fairfax, Virginia George Mason College’s New Home in 1964

Once moved from its original location in Bailey’s Crossroads, George Mason College would now operate out of it’s new quarters in Fairfax.

The first four buildings were quite spartan in design, appearance, amenities (with the exception of the air conditioning), and name.  Each would have two levels and a basement which doubled as a fallout shelter.  The exteriors were to be of red brick with white vinyl-coated concrete columns.  The buildings would hold a total of four lecture rooms, four labs, half a dozen classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, library, bookstore, dining, and locker rooms for physical education.  Their names would be taken from the points of the compass: North, South, East, and West.

As completion of the campus at Fairfax approached excitement began to grow.  College functions once taking place in and around Bailey’s Crossroads shifted to its new adopted home in Fairfax. Instead of the Alexandria Episcopal Seminary, the 1964 Final Day Exercises took place in the Fairfax Town Hall on June 8.  New college director Robert Reid, who assumed the directorship from the retiring John Finley on January 1, 1964, brought groups both large and small by the construction site for tours. One such group, the Fairfax City Chamber of Commerce, presented Reid and the college with the Chamber’s first ever honorary membership during the last week of July.  (The Virginian, Friday July 31, 1964).

The Collage at Fairfax officially opened on Monday, September 14 to 356 registered students.  The original faculty consisted of 7 full and 18 part-time instructors. Though the weather on that day was a pleasant seventy-five degrees, Mason’s new director, Dr. Robert Reid, could not help but point out to the Fairfax Times that Mason was the only College in the Washington area that was fully air conditioned (Fairfax Times, Friday 9/18/64, p.13).  Perhaps the most sorely missed amenities were food service and a lounge for the students and faculty.  During the first week vending machines were hastily set up in a study hall.  Mason would later set up an actual dining hall, the Ordinary, in the South Building. The Ordinary would remain there until Student Union I was built in 1974.

Though the university has added about 450 acres and over 100 buildings to the Fairfax campus, the original four still stand and are still in use today.

The Video

The original 16 mm film was approximately 12 minutes long, and unlike that of the move from Bailey’s Crossroads,  contained audio.  In this film George Mason College Director, Robert Reid, gives the above mentioned tour of the nearly-finished campus to the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce during the last week of April 1964. He is presented with an honorary membership by members of the Chamber, and later an announcer interviews tour group members,  including Dr. Reid.

Some Still Images from the Video

Still image from the film showing members of the tour group enter the East Building during the July 1964 tour. In the background are the South (today known as Krug) Building at left, the Quadrangle. and the West Building at upper right.

Student members of the tour group gather in the lobby of the North Building (now known as Finley) in this still image from the film.

Director, Robert H. Reid (at right in dark suit) receives an honorary membership in the Greater Fairfax Chamber of Commerce from Chamber representative, Robert Parcels (at left). Still image from the film.

Tour group continues down the walkway past the West Building (at right) into the breezeway of the South (now known as Krug) Building. Still image from the film.

Director Reid is interviewed by an announcer simply known as "Ed". Still image from the film.

Segments from the Video

Please click here to view a 59-second segment from the tour portion of the  video.

Please click here to view a 1-minute 55-second segment from the interview portion of the  video.

George Mason University’s Earliest Video Footage, Part 1

George Mason College Bailey's Crossroads Campus 1964 from the south

George Mason College Bailey's Crossroads Campus, 1964. Photograph is from the Richard M. Sparks Photograph Collection.

This post is Part 1 of 2 parts. Part 2 can be read here.

Bailey’s Crossroads, George Mason’s First Campus

During the summer of 1957 University of Virginia President Colgate W. Darden announced the University’s temporary leasing of an old elementary school building at Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia.  This building  would house the newly created University College of the University of Virginia until a permanent location could be chosen and suitable facilities constructed. In early August of 1957 the Bailey’s Crossroads location was occupied, and classes began on September 23 with an initial enrollment of 17. With John Norville Gibson Finley as Director, Bailey’s served as the home of the college, later renamed George Mason College in January 1960, until August 1964.

The former Bailey’s Crossroads Elementary School located at 5836 Columbia Pike was a well-used eight-room elementary school constructed in 1922 of red brick. In 1955, a new, larger elementary school was constructed nearby, and “Old Bailey’s” was abandoned. The lower level had four classrooms – two were used as science labs, and the other two as lecture rooms by the school’s new tenant. On the upper level, three rooms comprised the library. The last served as an additional lecture room. The library was staffed by librarians from the local public library who worked there after-hours, and former occupants of Bailey’s have characterized the building’s climate control as “hot in the summer and cold in the winter.”

Space for other collegiate pursuits was always at a premium. Bailey’s lacked a room that could house more than 30 persons comfortably.  As a result college functions, such as assemblies, meetings, dances, and Final Day Exercises (graduation) were held at locations nearby, such as the Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Department , the Alexandria Episcopal Seminary, and local hotels and churches.  Athletic events, which were never more than a pick-up or faculty vs. student game, took place either on the dirt field adjacent to the building which doubled as overflow parking or on the fields of local schools, such as Glen Forest Elementary School, which was located one-half mile to the north.

In August 1964, Mason’s new campus at Fairfax was nearing completion.  Local mover Craig Van Lines of Oakton was hired to move furniture, scientific equipment, books, and other materials from the Bailey’s Crossroads building to the new Fairfax campus on August 23-24. The building would never be occupied again and was finally demolished in 1970.

Former Bailey's Crossroads Campus building, 1968. Photo is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection

Former Bailey's Crossroads Campus building, 1968. Photograph is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection.


The Films

In 2003 a 16mm film in our holdings labeled “Dedication Film – November 1964″ along with  another entitled “Moving Out of Bailey’s Crossroads” were taken to a northern Virginia vendor to be cleaned and have their contents transferred to digital files. When we received the digital recordings, we discovered that the recording from the “Dedication Film” can was not the Fairfax Campus dedication of November 12, 1964.  It actually was a 12-minute video of  a tour of the nearly-completed Fairfax campus given by Director of  George Mason College, Robert H. Reid earlier in July 1964.  This film will be detailed in Part Two of this post.  The “Moving Out of Baileys Crossroads”  film yielded 4 minutes of footage from the late-August packing and moving from the Bailey’s campus.  Stills and a short segment from this film can be seen below.

Flim cannister containing 16mm film shot in 1964

Film canister which contained 16mm film of George Mason College, Bailey's Crossroads Campus shot in 1964. Canister is mis-labeled "Dedication Film - November, 1964." It actually contained footage from a tour of the nearly completed Fairfax campus. Photograph by the author.



Some Still Images from the Video

Bailey's Campus with moving trucks

Bailey's Crossroads building with moving vans, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Moving out the chemistry lab, Bailey's, August 1964.

Packing instruments in the the chemistry lab, Bailey's, August 1964. At left is chemistry professor, Dr. Hyman Feinstein. Still image from the film.

Packing books from basement storage. August 1964.

Packing books from the library's basement storage, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Preparing to move "George Mason College" sign.

Preparing to move the "George Mason College" sign, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Craig Movers van leaves Bailey's building and heads toward Va. Route 7.

Craig Movers van leaves Bailey's building and heads toward Va. Route 7. August 1964. Still image from the film.


Segment from the Video

Please click here to view a 54-second segment from the video.

Part 2 of this post will deal with the content from the other film, the one incorrectly identified as “Dedication Film.”



Plays in mind

In anticipation of the “Playwrights in Mind: A National Conversation” conference being held at Mason June 9-12, I thought it appropriate to introduce two playbills I find fascinating in Special Collections.

Buck White and La Strada were two short-lived plays with big stars that opened and closed in December of 1969. La Strada opened and closed on December 14, 1969 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway after 14 previews. It was a financial disaster and lost $650,000. It starred a young Bernadette Peters. Buck White starring Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, faired only slightly better: It opened December 2nd and closed December 6th.

Both playbills come from the Charles Rodrigues Playbill Collection.

Who will be this year’s George Mason?

Well, the answer to that often-asked question may very well be… George Mason.
At 26-6,  Mason has compiled its best pre-NCAA Tournament season record to date, and for several weeks the Patriots have been included in various lists of the top-30 teams in the nation.  Though it fell in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semi-final, it earned an at-large bid to this year’s tournament this past  Sunday and is seeded eighth in the  East  Region.   Mason will play Villanova  on Friday,  March 18th in the first round.

Andre Smith (left) and Lamar Butler (right() embrace after the Patriots' victory over UConn.

Andre Smith (left) and Lamar Butler (right) embrace after the Patriots' victory over the #1-seeded University of Connecticut in the 2006 East Regional Championship game. Image from the George Mason University Archives Collection, University Publications.

It’s hard to believe  it was five years ago that Mason received a generous at-large bid and turned it into an historic  Final Four run, knocking off Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, and Connecticut, only losing to the eventual national champ,  Florida.  It is a safe bet that many of us in the Mason Community remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when Mason defeated heavily-favored UConn on March 26, 2006 to become a member of the NCAA’s Final Four.  On that Sunday afternoon, and for four weeks in March, the atmosphere here at George Mason University was undeniably electric.

Though we collect archival materials relating to all university happenings year-round,  Special Collections & Archives began collecting items relating to the 2005-2006 basketball season and the historic Final Four run with added enthusiasm during March 2006.   History was indeed happening right here at Mason.  To that end, we assembled a collection of any and all materials relating to that memorable month and year.  “Giveaway” items related to the team such as whistles and other items were saved.  Fliers and posters advertising events on campus relating to the tournament were carefully collected from campus walls and doors.  People stepped forward to donate items they had collected themselves.  Oral history interviews of persons involved in the Final Four run – from players to university administrators – were recorded by our Oral History Program staff.

Interview with Jim Larranaga, 2006. Please click on this image to view a short segment from the interview.

The George Mason University Men’s Basketball Collection, 2006 contains over one hundred distinct items relating to Mason’s 2005-2006 season and postseason.  It is comprised of artifacts, such as figurines, t-shirts, objects; printed materials such as posters, banners, fliers, programs, tickets, news articles, and oral history recordings (DVD and Mp3). Though the majority of the items were either produced by the University or members of the University community, some, such as game tickets or game programs, were produced by outside sources.  A digital archive displaying many of the items in the physical collection can be accessed at

"Coach in the Box" featuring Coach Jim Larranaga. From the George Mason University Men's Basketball Collection, 2006