The University began construction on the Chapel in 1867 at the request of Robert E. Lee, who served as president from 1865 to 1870 of what was then called Washington College. His son, George Washington Custis Lee, may have proposed the simple Victorian design; Col. Thomas Williamson drew up the plans and specifications. (Both men were professors in the engineering department of neighboring Virginia Military Institute.) Built of brick and native limestone, the Chapel was completed in time for graduation exercises in 1868. Lee attended weekday worship services here with the students and the lower level housed his office, the treasurer's office and the YMCA headquarters (student center).