Kentland Farm Historic and Archeological District
Kentland Farm Historic and Archeological District
Kentland Farm, September 2012
|Location||At end of VA 623 along New River, near Blacksburg, Virginia|
|Area||350 acres (140 ha)|
|Built by||Swope, John|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival, Federal|
|MPS||Montgomery County MPS|
|NRHP reference #||91000833, 06000801|
|Added to NRHP||July 3, 1991, September 6, 2006 (Boundary Increase)|
|Designated VLR||April 17, 1991, June 8, 2006|
Kentland Farm Historic and Archeological District is a historic home, archaeological site, and national historic district located near Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. The district encompasses a complex of 19th century agricultural outbuildings associated with a Federal and Greek Revival style brick dwelling built 1834–1835. Located in the district are significant archaeological resources that include a complex of Late Woodland village or camp sites.
Native American Occupation
There is archeological evidence of a Late Woodland Period occupation on the site. "An archeological survey, conducted in 1991, confirmed that there is at least one extensive Late Woodland Period (AD 800-1600) prehistoric Indian village located on the farm. The investigation resulted in the recovery of hundreds of artifacts including weapons, stone tools and lithic debris from tool manufacture, fragments of aboriginal clay pottery, fire-cracked rocks from hearths or fireplaces, and other pieces. There is also evidence of Native American Shawnee habitation and migration in the late 1700s through Kentland Farm, Toms Creek, Virginia, and the New River (Kanawha River)." 
James Randal Kent acquired the farm in the early 1800s. According to the U.S. Census just prior to the Civil War, Kent produced corn, wheat, wool, butter, hay, clover seed, oats, flax seed, plus horses, cattle, sheep and swine, and owned 123 slaves. His property holdings were twice as valuable as the next wealthiest landowner in Montgomery County.
James Kent also owned the largest number of slaves in the region. Before the Civil War, along with his daughter who owned another farm across the river, they owned 250 slaves in 1860.
The site today still maintains several buildings from the Kent family farm period. This includes the antebellum brick manor house, and other buildings including a mill, numerous early farm buildings, garden areas, an antebellum cemetery for the Kent family and for the slave community.
Many of the farm buildings "were constructed in the 1950s and have been retrofitted over and over again. Some have been abandoned, like two old concrete block silos that still stand on the site." Other buildings are more recently constructed, from the 1980s to the present. Some of the old barns held unexpected finds, such as an old apple cider press and early chain saws, now refurbished and used by the students.
The house is considered modest today, but was built of brick to keep it cool during the summers. German stonemasons mined limestone from Brush Mountain, while slaves mined clay from nearby pits and made the bricks for the home and the six-sided smokehouse. "Other, long forgotten artisans worked on the house’s interior, including a perfectly preserved and ornately carved wooden handrail on the main staircase."
The manor house was built in 1834-35 as a two-story, five-bay, Flemish bond brick I house, extended two story ell, stone foundation, metal-sheathed gable roof, Federal and Greek revival interior and exterior detailing, and adjacent cistern, two-story kitchen, and hexagonal brick meat house (Patricia Givens Johnson, 1995).
Virginia Tech acquired the Kentland Farm along with over 3,200 acres, on December 31, 1986. The farm was purchased for the support of teaching, research, and extension programs in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
There has been some discussion about the preservation and demonstration of African American habitation on the site. This includes the location and preservation of slave cemeteries, cabins and other evidence of their use of the land.
"Virginia Tech’s “Hokie milk” will remain local, but its source will move off campus later this spring. The school’s 500-head dairy herd and production facility will be relocated to the university’s Kentland Farm in Montgomery County as soon as construction is completed on a new $14 million dairy center now underway there, department head Mike Akers said."
Other projects include improving soil characteristics on the farm.
National Register of Historic Places
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research (2005). "ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND LIMITED EVALUATION, KENTLAND FARM HISTORIC AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISTRICT (060-0202), MONTGOMERY COUNTY, VIRGINIA" (PDF). Virginia Tech Libraries.
- Moore, William H., and Joe B. Jones. Archaeological Survey and Limited Evaluation, Kentland Farm Historic and Archaeological District (060-0202), Montgomery County, Virginia. Williamsburg, Va: William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research, 2005.
- Kern, John. 1996. "Kentland Farm, a New River Plantation". Journal of the Roanoke Valley Historical Society. 13, no. 2: 45-52. Abstract: Owners and/or occupants of Kentland Farm include John Buchanan, Abram Trigg, Gordon Cloyd, Thomas Cloyd, David Cloyd, James Randall Kent, Mary Cloyd Kent, Margaret Kent Cowan, John T. Cowan, James Randal Kent Cowan, Maude Battle Cowan, Francis Bell, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Short biographical sketches are included. Kentland Farm was previously known as Buchanan's Bottom, The property also included Cowans Mill.
- Cook, Samuel R. and Thomas Klatka. 2015. "Verifying a Slave Community at Kentland." Historical Society of Western Virginia. Journal. Volume XXII (1), 2016. Page 71.
- Moxley, Tonia. 2015. "New Virginia Tech dairy science facilities under construction at Kentland Farm". Roanoke Times. April 1, 2015.
- Katherine Fairbanks. 2013. "Fall Fun Day Recap". November 5, 2013.
- Moxley, Tonia. 2015. "Historic Kentland manor still weathering the ages". Roanoke Times. June 28, 2015.
- Pezzoni, J. Daniel. 1996. "The Architecture of Kentland". Journal of the Roanoke Valley Historical Society. 13, no. 2: 53-58.
- Johnson, Patricia Givens. Kentland at Whitethorne: Virginia Tech's Agricultural Farm and Families That Owned It, Harmans, Buchanans, Triggs, Cloyds, Kents, Cowans, Bells, Adams. Blacksburg, Va: Walpa Pub, 1995.
- Cook, Samuel R., and Thomas S. Klatka. 2015. "The Nexus of Collaboration: Negotiating African American History and Public Interest in Southwest Virginia". Anthropology Now. 7, no. 2: 26-36.
- Klatka, Thomas S., Donna Dunay, Jessica Wirgau, Z. Scott Hurst, and Scott Gardner. The 2006 Historic Lecture Series. Blacksburg, VA: WTOB Blacksburg, 2006. Disc 1. Collective efforts to document the slave cemetery at Kentland Plantation / Tom Klatka (39 min.).
- "Soil Rehabilitation Experiment Site (SRES) at Kentland Farm".