One in a Hundred: Samuel Miller's Chair at UVA
In celebration of its upcoming bicentenary, the University of Virginia has created a special exhibit highlighting 100 objects that represent key moments in the University's history. The University of Virginia in One Hundred Objects exhibit includes items such as the original key to the Rotunda and a chalice presented by Thomas Jefferson to UVA's first professor. The exhibit is on view in the Harrison/Small galleries and more than a dozen other locations across Grounds.
Object 27 in the exhibit is the personal chair of Samuel Miller, the visionary founder of Miller School of Albemarle. While Samuel Miller is best known on the Hill for leaving the majority of his estate to build Miller School, which originally was established as a manual labor school with a robust agricultural program, he is best known at the University of Virginia for a generous donation to the school at one of the roughest points in its history. Samuel Miller donated $100,000 to the University to establish an agricultural program in 1869. At the time, UVA was suffering from low enrollment and financial hardship due to the Civil War. Miller's gift provided the resources UVA needed to get back on a successful track. The funds were eventually used to create UVA's Biology Department.
For those familiar with Samuel Miller, this gift to the University of Virginia matches the spirit of his later gifts to build Miller School and an orphanage in Lynchburg for girls. Samuel Miller looked to assist those needing a little extra support in a difficult time. As MSA prepares to celebrate its 140th year, Object 27 is a good reminder of how one man's generosity has allowed countless students to find success in Charlottesville--both here at MSA and up the road at UVA.