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Learn about the history of the Academy and what life is like for those who have the honor of attending. The tour starts in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center where there are several interesting displays. The fee is $9.50 for adults, less for seniors and children. The number of visitors in each tour is limited so reservations are suggested and those 16 or older must present a valid picture ID.
The tour begins with the greeting, “Welcome to Duty, Honor, and Loyalty.” The goal of the Academy is to train the students “mentally, morally, and physically.” While the students get a free education they must give back by serving five years in the Navy or Marines. When the Academy started it was male-only but today half of the 4,400 students are female. The school has an 80% graduation rate.
The grounds are beautiful with many Beaux-Art buildings designed by Ernest Flag along with many memorials. The tour includes the Bancroft Hall, referred to as “Mother B.” It is the largest dormitory in the U.S. with 4.8 miles of halls and a beautiful marble rotunda. The rotunda is open to the public along with a full-size model of a midshipman’s room. Also included is the chapel with beautiful stained glass windows some of which are by Tiffany. Beneath the chapel is the crypt where John Paul Jones, a Revolutionary War hero, is interred.
The hour-long tour ended at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Preble Hall which was completely remodeled a few years ago and how houses excellent displays and videos including the History of the U.S. Navy and the Academy. On the second floor is an amazing display of model ships – and not just your run-of-the mill models. The Naval Academy has one of the world’s largest collections of model ships made of bone. They were made by French prisoners-of-war held in England during the Anglo-French War.