August 18–19, 1790

Visit by President George Washington

While the second day of the President’s visit was devoted to speeches and addresses, it was the evening of his arrival that was, perhaps, most memorable. After sailing from Newport, he landed in Providence to a greeting of “discharge of cannon and ringing of bells.” From there, the Providence Gazette describes, a procession led to the campus where Washington beheld “…the illumination of the building by the students which made a most splendid appearance.” Although the lights are now electric, instead of candles, the 146 windows of University Hall have been lit on special occasions since that time, including several "Victory Celebrations" to mark the end of war. Today, the lighting takes place during commencement week and for the month of December.