The Sir Christopher Wren Building, or Wren Building, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia is the oldest continuously used academic building in the United States. It was constructed between 1695 and 1699, before Williamsburg was founded, when the capital of the colony of Virginia was still located at Jamestown. Tradition has it that the building was designed by the famed English architect Sir Christopher Wren who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
The Wren Building has been destroyed by fire three times in 1705, 1859 and 1862. Each time the structure was rebuilt, and for more than three centuries, it has been "the soul of the College." In the building, generations of William and Mary students have attended classes and lectures, enjoyed meals and attended chapel services. Classes are still held in the Wren Building, which also is home to several faculty offices. The northern wing holds the Great Hall and the southern wing holds the Wren Chapel. Both rooms are often open to the public and are still used for various functions.
To prepare the Wren Building for its fourth century of use, the College has recently completed a comprehensive renewal and replacement project. The major components of the project were restoration of the architectural features such as floors and paneling; replacement of mechanical systems; safety upgrades; and repair and stabilization of the walls and foundation.
From the east entrance to the Wren Building, you can see the other buildings of the College's colonial campus, including the Brafferton, located on the south side of the yard, and the President's House, located on the north side of the yard.
The two cannons flanking the east door to the Wren Building were among several captured from the British after the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. The initials "GR" stand for George Rex-George III, King of England at the time the cannons were cast and at the time of the American Revolution. The cannon in the yard was taken from Fort Christanna, a trading post which was established by colonial governor Alexander Spotswood south of the James River in 1713.