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The College Woods, located on the northwestern side of the William & Mary campus, originally totaled around 1200 acres when it was developed by the College and the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C) between 1933 and 1934. Dubbed Matoaka Park, the College Woods was intended for the enjoyment and education of both students and Williamsburg citizens. Over time, the woods have been used for classes in botany, biology, ecology, and ornithology. In 1934, Player's Dell, a retreat for concerts, plays, and other activities, was created next to Lake Matoaka. Walking trails, bridges, boathouses, and horse trails were added over time. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a portion of the College Woods was cut down due to both the rapid construction of buildings on the New Campus and an infestation of beetles killing the majority of the pine trees in the forest (Buildings and Grounds--Lake Matoaka and Matoaka Woods, University Archives Subject File Collection). In the 1990s, with the development of Route 199 and Monticello Avenue, located just west of campus, the College tried to save the woods from further development by buying adjacent land and designating 300 acres of the College Woods as a nature preserve. 1

Material in the Special Collections Research Center


  • Buildings and Grounds--Lake Matoaka and Matoaka Woods, University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Marzoff, Melanie and Feldbaum, Maureen, 2002: Social and policy aspects of development in Williamsburg, College of William & Mary,, accessed 22 March 2011.

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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.