|Motto||Levavi Oculos (Latin)|
Motto in English
|Lift thine eyes|
|Type||Private women's college|
|Endowment||US $180.6 million |
|President||Nancy Oliver Gray|
|Location||Roanoke, Virginia, USA|
|Colors||Green and Gold|
Hollins College Quadrangle
|Location||Hollins College Campus, Hollins, Virginia|
|Area||6 acres (2.4 ha)|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival, Greek Revival, Romanesque|
|NRHP Reference #||74002145|
|Added to NRHP||November 5, 1974|
|Designated VLR||May 21, 1974|
Hollins University is a four-year private institution of higher education located on a 475-acre (1.92 km2) campus on the border of Roanoke and Botetourt counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. Founded in 1842 as Valley Union Seminary in the historical settlement of Botetourt Springs, it is one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women in the United States.
Hollins has since evolved into a full university with approximately 800 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. As Virginia's first chartered women's college, all undergraduate programs are female-only. Men are admitted to the graduate-level programs.
Hollins is known for its undergraduate and graduate writing programs, which have produced Pulitzer Prize–winning authors Annie Dillard, current U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, and Henry S. Taylor. Other prominent alumnae include pioneering sportswriter Mary Garber, 2006 Man Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai, Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown, Lee Smith, photographer Sally Mann, and Ellen Malcolm, founder of EMILY's List.
- 1 History
- 2 Academics
- 3 Athletics
- 4 Housing
- 5 Student body
- 5.1 Clubs and organizations
- 5.1.1 Hollins Outdoor Program
- 5.1.2 Student publications and literary societies
- 5.1.3 Arts-focused Organizations
- 5.1.4 Religious Organizations
- 5.1.5 Political and Cultural Groups
- 5.1.6 Community Service Organizations
- 5.1.7 Musical Organizations
- 5.1.8 Language Groups
- 5.1.9 Scholarly Societies
- 5.1.10 Secret Societies
- 5.1 Clubs and organizations
- 6 Eleanor D. Wilson Museum
- 7 List of Firsts
- 8 Notable alumni
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Hollins College Quadrangle
The Hollins College Quadrangle consists of six contributing buildings. The earliest buildings were built for the Botetourt Springs resort which operated from 1820 to 1841. The first built specifically for the college is East Building, erected 1856-58 opposite the hotel building. The Main building was built in 1861 at the north end of the quadrangle, Bradley Chapel was erected in 1883 between the East and Main Buildings, the octagonal Botetourt Hall was built in 1890, and the Charles Cocke Memorial Library was built in 1908 at the south end of the quadrangle.
1842 - 1855: Valley Union Seminary and Charles Lewis Cocke
The institution of higher learning that would become Hollins was first established in 1842 by the Reverend Joshua Bradley as the coeducational Valley Union Seminary. Bradley left in 1845 for Missouri, and in 1846, the seminary's trustees hired a twenty-five-year-old math instructor from Richmond named Charles Lewis Cocke to direct the institution. Cocke arrived with his wife, Susanna, and sixteen slaves. The same year, Cocke established the first school for enslaved people in the Roanoke area; many students at the school worked at the seminary. In 1851, Cocke abolished the men's department of the institution, and in 1852, the school became a women's college called the Roanoke Female Seminary. In 1855, Lynchburg residents John and Ann Halsey Hollins gave $5,000, and the school was renamed Hollins Institute. The Hollinses gave an additional $12,500 in gifts before their deaths in 1859 and 1864 respectively.
1855-1901: Family institution
As the head of Hollins, Cocke saw his students as a part of a family and himself as their father figure. His pedagogy was based upon the "southern sensibility that a lady was to be trained to submit to the order of men". Though he thought women studying at Hollins were best confined to domestic duties, he still placed great value on intellectual excellence. Cocke considered the higher education of young women in the South to be his life's calling; in 1857, he wrote that "young women require the same thorough and rigid mental training as that afforded to young men". Hollins was known as a rigorous institution where degrees were not easily earned during Cocke's tenure. Students at the school during this period remember the "unbelieveably [sic] serious" instruction and "high standards". During this period, Hollins also pioneered several academic practices; it became the first school in the United States to begin a system of elective study, and it was the first to establish an English department under a full professor.
The Hollins of Cocke's ambitions was limited by region, as Cocke was interested in educating women only from Southern states. Because of this limited scope, Hollins struggled to "professionalize" in the 1880s and beyond. Its remote location far from the better respected and funded men's institutions put Hollins in contrast with the Seven Sisters in the Northeast. Despite its academic rigor, Hollins and other southern women's colleges were smaller and poorer than women's college such as Smith College and Mount Holyoke in the north. However, Hollins saw its enrollment rise in the last two decades of the 19th century, as more women sought higher education nationwide.
Before the Civil War, Hollins used the labor of enslaved people to build and maintain the grounds. In addition, many students brought "servants" with them who were likely slaves. After slavery was abolished, Hollins employed many formerly enslaved people, mostly women whose names were not recorded. Students were encouraged to ignore these workers in the college handbook during this era, and employees were forbidden from developing friendly relationships with women studying at Hollins.
From 1846 until his death, Cocke did not take a stipulated salary from the institution so that the trustees could instead put the school's income toward paying faculty and improving the grounds. In 1900, the board of trustees found themselves so thoroughly in debt to Cocke that the school was deeded to him and his family.
1901-1932: Matty Cocke and accreditation
Charles Lewis Cocke's death in 1901 at the age of eighty-one was a grave moment for the Hollins Institute, but the transition to the leadership of his forty-five-year-old daughter Matty Cocke was smooth. "Miss Matty," as she preferred to be called, was intent on preserving the "genteel" atmosphere her father had cultivated at Hollins. Though she was a "charismatic leader"  and the first woman to head a college in Virginia, Miss Cocke was not interested in waging any battles for women's education; indeed, she let her nephews, Joseph Turner and M. Estes Cocke, handle the school's financial dealings entirely. Miss Cocke shared the opinion of president John McBryde of Sweet Briar Women's College, who in 1907 decried the "independence" sought by Vassar and other members of the Seven Sisters and suggested instead that women's education focus on "grace [and] refinement". In 1911, the school was renamed Hollins College.
Because the Cocke family owned Hollins, the school could not raise an endowment through alumna donations. Further stalling Hollins' prosperity was President Matty Cocke's distaste for fundraising. Due to their financial limitations, Hollins was not able to hire high-quality faculty or assemble an up-to-date library or laboratory, making accreditation hard to achieve. This was not unusual for the time; as of 1916, only seven southern women's college were certified by professional organizations as "standard," while both Hollins and Sweet Briar were designated as "approximate". The Cocke family agreed to turn over ownership if sufficient funds were raised in 1925, but the Depression slowed their efforts. A scathing 1930 letter from alumna Eudora Ramsay Richardson in the South Atlantic Quarterly indicted the American Association of University Women for regional bias. Richardson's letter and prompting from the presidents of Mount Holyoke and Bryn Mawr sped up the accreditation process. The Cocke family turned the school over to a board of trustees and President Cocke tendered her resignation in 1932, as the school finally gained accreditation.
Hollins was home to the first exhibition gallery in the Roanoke region in 1948. One of the first writer-in-residence programs in America began at Hollins in 1959. Hollins was home to the first graduate program focusing on the writing and study of children’s literature, established in 1993. Hollins University Quadrangle is on the National Register of Historic Places.The institution was renamed Hollins College in 1911, and in 1998 it became Hollins University. In 2005, Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins's eleventh president.
Hollins University has a number of beloved traditions, many of which have been observed for more than 100 years. Tinker Day is the school's best known and best loved tradition, dating back to the 1880s. One day in October, after the first frost, classes are cancelled so that students, faculty, and staff can climb nearby Tinker Mountain while wearing colorful and silly costumes. After a lunch of fried chicken and Tinker Cake, the students and new faculty perform skits and sing songs before returning to campus. The exact date of the celebration is a closely held secret.
Hollins offers small classes with a 9:1 student-teacher ratio in a variety of majors. The most popular majors are English, psychology, studio art, business, and biology. Currently Hollins offers graduate programs in dance (M.F.A.), creative writing (M.F.A.), children’s literature (M.A., M.F.A.), liberal studies (M.A.L.S.), playwriting (M.F.A.), screenwriting and film studies (M.A., M.F.A.), and teaching (M.A.T.). As of 2011, Hollins offers a graduate-level certificate in Children's Book Illustration.
Hollins was one of the first colleges in the nation to establish a study abroad program, launching Hollins Abroad-Paris in 1955. Approximately half of Hollins students have an international learning experience. Hollins runs its own programs in London and Paris; non-Hollins students are free to apply to the Hollins Abroad-London and-Paris programs. Hollins students can study through Hollins-sponsored programs in Argentina, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, and in various other countries through the School for Field Studies. Hollins also sponsors an annual service-learning project in Lucea, Jamaica.
In January, or J-Term, students follow their own independent course of study with a sponsoring professor, take off-campus internships, or study abroad with other Hollins students. The innovative 4-1-4 calendar, established in 1968, was one of the first in the nation.
Hollins's peer tutoring center is known as the Center for Learning Excellence, situated in Middle East. The Writing Center offers students support and feedback on their writing interests, and the QR Center, established in 2002, offers support to students enrolled in quantitative courses.
In 2009, Hollins was ranked among the top 100 of America's Best Colleges. Hollins was among the 372 most interesting schools according to the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide, and the Princeton Review named Hollins a “Best in the Southeast” college and featured the school among “The Best 373 Colleges” in its 2011 guide.
A liberal arts school, Hollins has designed its own Education through Skills and Perspectives (ESP) general education requirement program. Rather than focusing on the usual math, science, English, and history booklist of required courses, Hollins requires each student to take a variety of skills classes (writing, oral communication, applied quantitative reasoning, and applied research techniques) and perspectives classes (aesthetic analysis, creative expression, ancient and/or medieval worlds, modern and/or contemporary worlds, social and cultural diversities, scientific inquiry, and global systems and languages). These requirements can be completed in as few as 8 courses but aim to help the students explore other fields of study while rounding out their basic understanding of the world.
Hollins offers majors in the fields of studio art, art history, biology, business, chemistry, classical studies, communication studies, dance, economics, English, environmental studies, film, French, gender and women's studies, history, interdisciplinary studies, international studies, mathematics, music, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, sociology, Spanish, and theatre.
Other academic offerings include: arts management certificate, certificate in leadership studies, education, first-year seminars, three-year accelerated degree program, pre-law, pre-med, pre-nursing, pre-vet, short term, and Horizon program for adult women.
The graduate program in creative writing was founded by Louis D. Rubin, Jr., in 1960, but Hollins has offered classes in creative writing for even longer. In 2008 the Jackson Center for Creative Writing was established through a generous gift from Susan Gager Jackson '68 and her husband, John Jackson, of Far Hills, New Jersey.
The Jackson Center for Creative Writing is home to Hollins' esteemed undergraduate and graduate writing programs, which have produced dozens of writers of national and international acclaim, including Lee Smith '67 and Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Dillard '67, M.A. '68; Henry S. Taylor M.A. '66; and Natasha Trethewey M.A. '91. Kiran Desai M.A. '94 won both the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The fiction of Madison Smartt Bell M.A. '81 has been recognized by a Strauss Living Award, and numerous other Hollins writers have received NEA, Guggenheim, and countless other grants and awards for their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, contributing to the cultural life of the nation that is disproportionate to the program's size. In fact, Hollins's creative writing program has been called "the most productive writing program in America" by Creative Writing in America.
The campus has two literary magazines. Cargoes, which won the Undergraduate Literary Prize for content by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and The Album, which is offered as a more alternative campus periodical. R. H. W. Dillard, Eric Trethewey, Cathryn Hankla, and Jeanne Larsen, and Carrie Brown are among the writers who teach at Hollins.
Established in 1974, the Horizon program is dedicated to offering nontraditional women students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts degree. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Hollins' Horizon Program is that the degree is the same degree that all Hollins graduates earn, not a separate certificate. Horizon students are fully integrated into the Hollins community and often participate in campus activities, clubs, and study abroad.
Hollins is a member of Division III of the NCAA and competes throughout Virginia in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Intercollegiate sports include basketball, golf, lacrosse, riding, soccer, swimming, tennis, and volleyball. Hollins also has fencing, cross-country, and martial arts sports teams.
Hollins is well known for its riding program and was named a Kaplan "Hot School" for riding in 2004-05. To date, Hollins has won 18 individual national championships, two team national championships, and four individual national high point rider championships. Hollins consistently dominates ODAC team competition.
Hollins does not have a mascot, and the sports teams do not have an official nickname.
As part of its Education through Skills and Perspectives (ESP) general education requirement program, two regular terms of physical education course work are required for graduation.
There are nine residence halls on campus. Most first-years live in Tinker and Randolph in doubles. Sophomores and juniors generally live in West or in singles in Tinker and Randolph, and primarily seniors (with a few exceptions) live in Main, or the university apartments across the street from campus. Housing choices are determined by a lottery number given after the housing deposit is paid in the spring; the lottery numbers are assigned randomly from within a preset range determined by class year.
All undergraduates are required to live on campus. The exceptions to this rule are Horizon (nontraditional) students, married students or those with children, those over the age of 23, or those whose official residence with parents or guardians is in the Roanoke Valley area.
All residence halls, houses, and apartments are smoke-free.
Hollins does not have sororities; instead, undergraduates can choose to live in "specialty housing." Each house or hall with this designation operates as an independent community within Hollins and has competitive admission.
Organization and Interest-Related Houses
Near East Fine Arts (NEFA) - Devoted to increasing fine arts awareness and participation among Hollins students and members of the Roanoke community. Housed in East.
HOP Hall - Is for the Hollins Outdoor Program, is located in West and is devoted to bringing together people who share a common love for the outdoors, the environment, and adventure. HOP is dedicated to training effective outdoor leaders and increasing the awareness and participation of all Hollins students in activities pertaining to outdoor recreation. Housed in West.
Otaku - Its purpose is to create a community in which everyone can live in a general sense of geekery. It is dedicated to aiding students in the expression of their love for anything from your major to your favorite television show. Housed on the first floor of Tinker.
Sandusky - Devoted to increasing awareness and participation of all Hollins students in activities pertaining to community service. House members lead by example to encourage students to serve on campus and in the Roanoke Valley and to collaborate with S.H.A.R.E staff to reach this goal.
Mind, Body, Spirit (MBS) - MBS residents seek personal balance by finding ways to get themselves and others involved in and out of the classroom. All MBS residents commit to a substance-free lifestyle. Housed in Far East.
International and Language Houses
Spanish House is situated next door to NEFA in East and is for students studying the Spanish language and culture.
French House is one of the Hill Houses and houses students studying the French language and culture.
Carvin House, another Hill House, is for international students and students interested in international affairs.
Hollins has about 794 undergraduate students from 46 states and 13 countries; 20% are students of color. The average high school GPA is 3.5. By the time they graduate, nearly two-thirds have had internships and almost 50% have had an international learning experience. Within one year of graduation, an average of 70% are employed and 27% are attending graduate or professional school.
The university’s official policy regarding transgender students states, “If a degree-seeking undergraduate student undergoes sex reassignment from female to male at any point during her time at Hollins, she will not be permitted to continue attending Hollins beyond the conclusion of the term in which sex reassignment is initiated, and under no circumstances will such student be allowed to graduate from Hollins.” Currently, Hollins is reviewing the transgender policy. The university’s Diversity Initiative Advisory Board, composed of students, faculty, and staff, is spearheading that discussion.
Clubs and organizations
Campus organizations on Hollins campus serve to bring the community together and help students find their niche. Hollins has more than 30 clubs and organizations. The vast majority of Hollins organizations have open membership. Honor societies, Freya, and ADA are closed societies.
Hollins has a number of organizations that are open to all students.
Hollins Outdoor Program
The Hollins Outdoor Program, or HOP, is an open campus organization that teaches students how to enjoy their surrounding environment, push themselves in high-adventure activities, and become effective outdoor leaders. Those who participate in HOP can expect to join and even lead whitewater canoeing trips, outdoor rock climbing trips, and caving, hiking, and backpacking trips.
Student publications and literary societies
Hollins has three campus literary journals.
The Album, printed twice a year, provides an alternative outlet for both traditional and experimental literary works.
Cargoes is the annual Hollins literary magazine of student work and Nancy Thorp Memorial Poetry Contest winners. In July 2005, Cargoes was awarded the Undergraduate Literary Prize for content by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).
The Cyborg Griffin is dedicated to the publication of speculative fiction, including but not limited to science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, and horror.
Grapheon, which is unaffiliated with other literary organizations, arranges programs of literary interest to the community, such as readings, teas, and socials.
Hollins Columns is the student newspaper.
Spinster, the annual yearbook, preserves the memories and events of Hollins students. Hollins also has its own closed-circuit television station, HUTV. Both are currently inactive.
Arts Association is a group of artistically inclined students interested in sharing their work and contributing to the Hollins art scene. All members of NEFA are members of the Arts Association. Hollins has a very loud and active branch of Alpha Psi Omega, a national theatre honor society. Foundation 42 is for sci-fi, fantasy, or horror enthusiasts. Founded in 1999, it allows members to explore their favorite aspects of the genre. Hollins Repertory Dance Company (HRDC) offers the opportunity for creative dance study, increased technical ability, composition, and performance by producing two major dance productions each year.
- Spiritual and Religious Life Association: (SRLA) is the SGA-supported umbrella organization that houses the student-led religious and spiritual groups for community-building, education, and celebrating the unity and diversity of faiths including:
- Muslim Student Association (MSA)
- Jewish Student Association (JSA)
- Bell, Book, and Candle Pagan group
- Cojourners Christian Fellowship
Other Groups include:
- Hollins Praise Dance Team: practices regularly and performs as asked for at chapel and campus events
- Habitat for Humanity: a college chapter group of the national organization; fundraises and participates in local builds
- Student Chaplains: student peer mentors that are present as a listening ear for other students and guides to help them connect with spiritual opportunities on and off campus
We have a weekly worship service called Sanctuary and a weekly Bible study ("Soul Food") that are led by the Chaplain.
Transportation is available for attending local churches as well including:
- Green Ridge REMNANT
- Rhythm Roanoke
- Grace Covenant
- Voices of Faith
Political and Cultural Groups
Hollins has both a branch of the College Republicans and College Democrats. In addition to these umbrella organizations, Hollins has a number of politically and culturally focused groups dedicated to more specific causes. The Black Student Alliance (BSA) is dedicated to providing an awareness of the African American culture in Hollins and Roanoke through programs and service. They seek to advance diversity, creativity, self-expression, unity, independence, and self-confidence. They hold frequent campus-wide parties and "melt da mic" nights. The Global Interest Association (GIA) seeks to cultivate and promote an understanding and appreciation of the contributions, values, views, and traditions of diverse cultures from around the world. OUTLoud is the Hollins gay-straight alliance. Members of this organization seek to work collaboratively both in and out of the Hollins community, educating and increasing awareness about sexual orientation. OUTLoud seeks to provide a confidential forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) concerns in an open and positive environment, and to increase awareness of queer issues. WA^2 (Women Who Appreciate Anime) promotes the viewing and appreciation of Japanese animation. The shortened version of the name is pronounced "WA squared."
Community Service Organizations
Hollins has Circle K, Colleges Against Cancer, and Habitat for Humanity branches on campus in addition to other, more tightly focused campus community service organizations. Hollins H4H was started in 1989 by a Hollins student and since then has funded/sponsored one house and has sent builder teams to numerous others over the years—every year. Hollins H4H works closely with the local affiliate, Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley. CASA, short for Coalition Against Sexual Assault, is a student-run peer-counseling service with walk-in office hours five days a week. They also sponsor events like Take Back the Night, an emotional event with an open-mic, candlelit march and SlowWalk by HRDC; educational events for the campus community in classes, dormitory hall social events, and other outreach, advocacy and awareness-raising events. Students Helping Achieve Rewarding Experiences (SHARE) coordinates students who wish to serve as volunteers in the Roanoke area and internationally and to gain a deeper self-understanding through service to others. They assist with volunteer placements in the areas of: youth, elderly, homeless, crisis intervention, hospital assistance, and school systems/tutoring. SHARE also offers qualified students the opportunity to participate in a mini Peace Corps-like project in Jamaica during Short Term and Spring Break.
Students may participate in the following ensembles at Hollins:
Hollins University Concert Choir
Hollins University Chamber Singers
The Valley Chamber Orchestra
World Music Ensemble
Winds of the Blue Ridge
Hollins has both a French Club and a Spanish Club. Neither require members to speak fluently. Both focus on the cultures surrounding their language of choice.
Hollins also has three major honorary and scholarly societies. Omicron Delta Kappa is an honorary leadership society to which fosters the development of responsible leadership and promotes involvement in the college and surrounding community. Phi Beta Kappa, Iota of Virginia chapter, was established in 1962 and recognizes outstanding scholarship and broad cultural interests in liberal studies. Pinnacle is a national honor society for adult undergraduate students which seeks to support leadership and scholarship.
Freya walks take place on nights of special events or issues. Members of this secret society walk at night to call attention to or celebrate current events. They wear black-hooded robes to protect their anonymity and carry candles to symbolize hope. Since 1903 Freya has sought to emphasize the notion that "concern for the community is a creative and active force." Only ADA members know what the letters stand for. ADA was founded in 1907. It oversees two important Hollins traditions: zaniness and the wearing of purple on Tuesdays. Members also take time during lunchtime on Tuesdays to shout university announcements to the students in the dining hall. Other secret societies exist at Hollins University, known only to their own members.
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum
Founded in 2004, The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum  at Hollins University is a premier arts destination in the Roanoke Valley featuring the work of internationally renowned artists, emerging figures, and regional names. The museum presents work from the permanent collection and mounts exhibitions that explore currents in contemporary art. Through these activities, the museum provides a forum for art and the creative process to enhance the life of the university and the community beyond.
The museum's benefactor, Eleanor D. "Siddy" Wilson, Class of 1930, desired that her alma mater have a world-class art museum. The museum is the culmination of Siddy's philanthropic generosity and benefits both the Hollins and greater Roanoke communities. The museum was named in her honor.
Students and faculty greatly benefit from the Wilson Museum's educational resources and research opportunities. Senior studio art majors present work from their final undergraduate portfolio in an exhibition at the end of the term. Students also have the opportunity to participate in student-curated exhibitions and utilize the museum's permanent collection for original research.
List of Firsts
- first chartered women’s college in Virginia
- first college in Virginia to name a woman president, Matty Cocke, 1901
- the nation’s first women’s intramural sports team established at Hollins, 1917
- Presser Hall, 1926, the first of numerous music buildings nationwide donated by the Presser Foundation of Philadelphia
- first exhibition gallery in the Roanoke region, 1948
- Hollins Abroad-Paris among the first abroad programs in the country, 1955
- first women’s college in Virginia to offer coed graduate programs, 1958
- one of the first writer-in-residence programs in America was established at Hollins, 1959
- with the 4-1-4 calendar, Hollins established one of the first Short Terms to be used for innovative classes, research, independent study, internships, and study abroad, 1968
- first liberal arts college in region to network all residence halls, a port per pillow, 1992
- first graduate program focusing on the writing and study of children’s literature established, 1993
- Wyndham Robertson Library named the first National Literary Landmark in Virginia, 1999
- Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, 1932
- Kiran Desai, author and recipient of the Man Booker Prize in 2006, M.A. 1994
- Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, 1967, M.A. 1968
- Henry S. Taylor, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, M.A. 1966
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hollins University.|
- Official website
- Hollins University Quadrangle, 7916 Williamson Road, Hollins, Roanoke, VA at the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
- Robertson Library, Hollins University, 7950 East Campus Drive, Hollins, Roanoke, VA at HABS