Let's Get Traditional
Painting Beta Bridge
by Will Bennett
One of the most popular and visible traditions at UVA is the painting of Beta Bridge by students and clubs. Beta Bridge is located on Rugby Road near the house of fraternity Beta Theta Pi, hence its name. Students will often paint the bridge to advertise events, activities and other things going on around Grounds. Beta Bridge was originally built in 1923, and it didn't take long for students to begin the tradition of painting it; in 1926, a group of students splashed it with an inaugural coat of green paint. At first, Charlottesville citizens and authorities did not approve of students painting Beta Bridge, but over time it became an accepted and eventually beloved tradition at UVa.
Although student clubs and organizations are the most common painters, sometimes students will paint Beta Bridge to celebrate a friend’s birthday or congratulate classmates on their graduation from UVa. After students paint the bridge with their advertisement or message, an important part of the tradition is to write “Thanks, Beta” somewhere on the bridge as well. Painting Beta Bridge is a very common activity for students to participate in and is frequently featured on lists of activities that students should do before they graduate. In fact, if you look at parts of the bridge where chunks of paint have come off, you can see the hundreds of layers of paint that have accumulated on the bridge as a result of decades of students painting it.
Painting Beta Bridge Essentials:
Where: Bridge on Rugby Road next to the Beta House
When: Best times are late night or very early morning
Look Out For: Other people painting over your messages on the bridge, especially if you paint early in the evening or night