The John W Daniel Elementary School, built in 1914, and located at 222 Thirty-second Street in downtown Newport News, was to be the first home for the new college. The building was described as "a simple, good, and basically sound one showing signs of age, hard wear, and minimal maintenance." In the basement there was a bomb shelter fully supplied. The cost estimate to bring the building up to standards for occupancy was $25,400. The total set-up cost for the two-hundred-pupil junior college was estimated to be from $223,387 to $303,135.John W. Daniel Elementary School

Salaries were calculated as follows: Provost $10,000, Business Manager & Building and Grounds $6,000, Top Step for Assistant Professor Range $5,800.

On January 13, 1960, the State Council of Higher Education formally singled out the College of William and Mary as the parent college for the Peninsula institution. This new college was then established by the General Assembly in its 1960 session as a two-year division of the mother institution.

At the same time, Delegate Lewis McMurran was set to request $100,000 in capital funding for furnishing and equipping the new college and $60,000 in general funds and an estimated $70,000 in special funds for the operation of the proposed junior college for the second year of the coming biennium. McMurran also insisted that plans should be made immediately for a permanent campus.

H. Westcott Cunningham, formerly Dean of Admissions of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, was appointed director. Nancy Ramseur, a William and Mary graduate, was named registrar. The college was to be called Christopher Newport College of the College of William and Mary, named for Captain Christopher Newport, the English mariner who commanded the vessels that landed in Jamestown in 1607. All the plans were now in place, and Christopher Newport College received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools its first year through the College of William and Mary.

And so, it happened.

CNC began at 7:05 a.m. on the morning of September 18, 1961, with more than 170 students.

Text courtesy of Memories of Christopher Newport College: The First Decade 1961-1971
Story contributed by Dr. Rita C. Hubbard
CNC/CNU faculty member, 1969-2001

The John Gaines Theatre
1973-2008

The John Gaines Theatre, built in 1973, was named for John Gaines because of his interest in its creation and his generous financial gift. It occupied the back one-third of the Campus Center. President James C. Windsor called it "the theatre the community has been waiting for." Assistance in designing the theatre came from Roger Sherman and Howard Scammon, both of the Theatre Department, College of William and Mary. They worked closely with Bill Polis, Dean of Students, the architects, and me (Rita C. Hubbard, author) - at that time chair of the Communications Department.The Gaines Theater

Built to seat 389 patrons in eleven rows, the theatre was semicircular with a full thrust stage. There was a green room adjacent to the theatre on the right side and a scene shop adjacent to the theatre on the left side. Part of the thrust was removable and could be utilized as an orchestra pit or in some other creative way for an avant-garde production. There was a small observation room at the rear of the theatre to allow a small group to see the show and comment on the performance.

Over time, the John Gaines Theatre was used more and more by campus organizations, community art, music, and dance groups, and political and civic groups. Its usefulness ended in 2008 when the entire Campus Center was demolished. A time capsule that had been buried beneath the floor will be opened in 2011 during the CNC/CNU Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration.

Text courtesy of Memories of Christopher Newport College: The First Decade 1961-1971
Story contributed by Dr. Rita C. Hubbard
CNC/CNU faculty member, 1969-2001