19 stunning pictures of the beloved Virginia college that's closing forever

Sweet Briar College Student CampusCourtesy of Aaron MahlerA student rides her bike on the Sweet Briar College campus.

Sweet Briar College — an all-women’s college in rural Virginia — stunned the academic world this month when it abruptly announced it would close at the end of the semester.

Over its 114 year history, Sweet Briar has had a storied history, with many traditions developing on its beautiful campus. Twenty one of the school’s 30 academic buildings — as well as the stunning Italian Villa style Sweet Briar House — are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We’ve highlighted some of what made Sweet Briar so special to its students.

Founded in 1901, Sweet Briar College is located in Sweet Briar, Virginia -- about 11 miles northeast of Lynchburg.

Sweet Briar was founded based on the will of Indiana Fletcher Williams, who left her entire 8,000 acre estate to establish a place of learning for women.

Williams said the donation was in memory of her daughter Daisy, who died at 16 and couldn't attend college.

The college became known for its study abroad opportunities, especially a program in France, as well as its engineering courses, as it's one of the only women's college to offer them.

One of the highlights of campus is the Sweet Briar House, also known as Locust Ridge. Built in the late 18th century, the house is now included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here's another view of the Sweet Briar House, which is traditionally home to the president of Sweet Briar College.

The beauty of the Sweet Briar campus also comes through during the winter.

As you can see here.

Students take advantage of the snow to go sledding and have snowball fights.

Campus life seems light-hearted, based on this picture.

Here's Prothro Hall, where the campus dining center is.

These students wear goofy outfits to sing.

Sweet Briar is known nationally for its riding program. The college owns about 40 horses and hosts a riding center set on 100 acres a mile from campus.

Equestrian life is a big part of campus, and horses even guard the pathways where students walk.

One of Sweet Briar's most valued traditions is the 'Lantern Bearing' ceremony. Seniors ask an underclasswoman to make a 'lantern' for her to be presented near the end of the year. Seniors in this picture wear their black graduation robes and underclasswomen wear white.

After walking around the quad four times -- to represent the four years the seniors spent at Sweet Briar -- the seniors sit down while the underclasswomen sing to them.

Here's a graduation picture from the Class of 2010.

Graduating seniors carry a rose with them, a reference to Sweet Briar's motto 'Rosam quae meruit ferat' -- or, 'She who has earned the rose may bear it.'

And one last look at the Sweet Briar campus.

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