The Jamestown Road Tunnel was a tunnel that ran underneath Jamestown Road in front of Willis Hall (formerly Taliaferro Hall), which opened in September 1960. It was also known as Alvin's Alley, likely a reference to College president Alvin Duke Chandler. It was built as part of the College Development Program as a way to give students a safe crossing of Jamestown Road, which was required for insurance purposes.
However, there were problems with the tunnel immediately after construction. Water would seep through the walls, sometimes flooding the tunnel. There were also concerns about the potential for assaults in the tunnel, and it did serve as a location for duc week hazing. Finally, most students felt it easier to simply walk across the road than taking two flights of stairs, and so the tunnel was rarely used. It was closed in the early 1970s.
There are several rumors about other events that occurred in the tunnel. For example, there was supposedly a party in the 1960s in the tunnel with over 100 attendees that was put on by members of the football team. Another rumor is that a group of fraternity pledges took the entire contents of a brother's room and recreated it in the tunnel.
The tunnel was briefly reopened in 1986 during the reconstruction of Jamestown Road, but it was soon closed again. There were attempts to reopen the tunnel, but none proved successful. In 2010, the two entrances to the tunnel were demolished and the tunnel itself is now being used to carry steam pipes.
Material in the Special Collections Research Center
- Buildings and Grounds--Jamestown Tunnel subject file
- Robert E. Gatten, Jr. Papers
- Facilities Management Records listed as Jamestown Road Underpass
- The Flat Hat, 23 September 1960
- The Flat Hat, 6 February 1981
- The Flat Hat, 25 September 2007
- The Virginia Informer, 14 November 2007