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This museum captures the history of the Staunton Military Academy (SMA) as well as the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL). The museum shows how the stories of the two military style education programs have intertwined and where they stand today. With a mission to "preserve the past while challenging the future" the museum shows how the history of SMA influences the progression of VWIL.


  • VWIL cadets marching in a parade.
  • The Staunton Military Academy and Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership Museum.
  • Staunton Military Academy marching on the SMA parade grounds

Captain William Kable was a teacher from Kabletown, WV who was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1884 he founded the Staunton Male Academy in Staunton, Virginia. Renamed in 1888 to Staunton Military Academy (SMA), it continued to educate boys for ninety-two years. A large fire in 1904 that destroyed the barracks and classroom buildings hurt the institution but not the spirit. The entire town rallied together to support the academy and rebuild. Today that spirit lives on through The Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership and in the museum on what was once SMA grounds.

Due to a decline in students during the Vietnam war as well a lack of funding, SMA was sold to an alumnus by the name of Layne Leoffler in 1973. However this was not enough to save the academy as it was forced to close after filing for bankruptcy in 1976. SMA property and land was then sold by auction to the nearby Mary Baldwin College (MBC). The land is still greatly used by MBC and is the home of VWIL and the SMA and VWIL Museum.

The spirit and memories of SMA survives today through VWIL. The Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership is the only all female corps of cadets in the United States. VWIL was created at Mary Baldwin College by Dr. Brenda Bryant to serve a need for a military institution for women. Each VWIL cadet learns the history of SMA and commemorates it by maintaining the museum, upholding its traditions, hosting alumni events, and much more. 

The museum is currently operated by SMA alumni and VWIL cadets. It contains SMA and VWIL memorabilia, displays of past and present uniforms, a memorial wall, and more. To learn more about the history of the Staunton Military Academy and the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership, visit the museum or the websites linked below.


"SMA-VWIL Museum" accessed May 18, 2015, http://www.sma-alumni.org/museum.htm "SMA History" accessed May 18, 2015, http://www.sma-alumni.org/history.htm "Hisstory of VWIL" accessed May 18, 2015, http://www.mbc.edu/vwil/history/