Bottomley House: The heart of the Jepson Alumni Center boasts an interesting history

June 14, 2021


The neo-Georgian mansion on Westhampton Way looks like it’s always been part of the University of Richmond, but in actuality, it was moved to the University’s campus on the back of a flatbed truck in 1996.

The Bottomley House, which is now the centerpiece of the Jepson Alumni Center, is named for its famous New York architect, William Lawrence Bottomley, who designed 14 homes throughout the city of Richmond. The one on UR’s campus was his first in the area, originally built in 1915 on neighboring River Road. It was gifted to the University 25 years ago by its former owner, William Goodwin Jr., and moved to its current location where it has provided alumni and University guests overnight accommodations ever since.

Known as a master of the “suburban villa”, Bottomley’s specialty was domestic architecture in the “James River Georgian” style. Coincidentally, he collaborated with landscape artist Charles F. Gillette, who was the original landscape architect for UR’s West End campus, first occupied in 1914.

“The University did a great job of transitioning the architecture from stucco to Collegiate Gothic like the rest of campus,” said Rick Glass, assistant director of the Jepson Alumni Center. “As you’re driving, you think it’s a nice residential home sitting there, and it’s not until you come around the back of the building that you realize there is more to it than that.”

In addition to formal living and dining rooms, the Bottomley House includes six bedrooms for guests. Newer construction added offices, conference rooms, a courtyard, and a main dining room for a variety of meetings, lectures, events, or parties, which ultimately became the Jepson Alumni Center. Instead of staying at a local hotel, Glass said it is a great alternative for alumni coming back to campus for reunions. 

“The Bottomley House is the official bed-and-breakfast for the University,” Glass said. “It houses everybody from parents who are coming to visit, parents who are bringing their children to look at the school, visiting professors, or lecturers and speakers.”

The building was dedicated in October 1997 and Glass said he is looking forward to some interior updates in time for its 25th anniversary next year. 

More information and reservation details can be found on the Jepson Alumni Center’s website.