One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Hampden-Sydney campus is its natural setting. The campus is part and parcel of the Virginia countryside. The topographic map demonstrates the dramatic changes in level that are not apparent to the casual observer.
This map colors each ten-foot interval, each ten-foot change in elevation, as a different shade of brown. Lighter colors indicate higher elevations; darker colors show lowlands. Across the campus, there is a change in elevation of more than one hundred feet, the equivalent of an eight to ten-story building.
College road shows as the white stripe curving across the drawing from left to right (north to south). The Via Sacra shows as the perpendicular white stripe descending from College Road to the lower portion of the map (westward). Notably, the roadways are plotted along the ridges. Similarly, one will note an historic development pattern typical of late eighteen and nineteen century campus development the first (oldest) buildings tend to be on higher ground (Venable and Cushing Halls). Interestingly, from a military point of view at least, Middlecourt (the President's residence) and Penshurst (the Dean of Faculty's residence) are on the highest parcels.
The narrower color bands bespeak steeper slopes and challenges to construction and land development. However, the fall of the land presents opportunities for overviews and vistas. Views across campus lawns toward Chalgrove Lake are pleasant indeed. The undulation of the ground plane is a feature that can be used to underscore the distinctiveness of the site and the institution.