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.”