Solitude (Blacksburg, Virginia)
Solitude, February 2012
|Location||Greenhouse Rd. on Virginia Polytechnic Institute campus, Blacksburg, Virginia|
|Area||3 acres (1.2 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||89000363|
|Added to NRHP||May 5, 1989|
|Designated VLR||June 21, 1988|
Solitude is a historic home located on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute at Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. The earliest section was built about 1808, and expanded in the 1850s century by Col. Robert Preston, who received the land from his father, Virginia Governor James Patton Preston. Dating back over 200 years, Solitude is the oldest building on the Virginia Tech campus.
It is a two-story, "L"-shaped, five bay, log and frame dwelling with a hipped roof. Mid 19th century modifications gave the farmhouse a Greek Revival look. Also on the property are the contributing stone spring house with log superstructure and log kitchen or office. In 1872, the 250 acre Solitude farm became the central campus of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the house, after the death of its owner in the following decade, served as a college infirmary from 1882 to 1886. It was then used as faculty housing for the next 60 years. In the 1940s it briefly was a clubhouse for returning World War II veterans who lived in a trailer park surrounding the building while attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute. At that time, dances regularly were held in Solitude’s two front parlors. In the 1960s and 1970s, Solitude was used by the Hokie Club. Academic programs started using the building in 1974. For some time, Solitude housed a human nutrition and food laboratory and interior design studios and offices. Its last occupant was the Appalachian Studies Program, which has returned following the restoration of the building and is now housed on the second floor. Solitude had been vacant for many years prior to a $1 million restoration that began in July 2010 and lasted half-a-year. Much of the project was funded by the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation of Richmond, Va.
The house is situated in a landscaped park adjacent to the central campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute. It was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1988 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
After Solitude's listing on NRHP, decade-long research and archaeology commenced to further study the main house, property, and overall site to extrapolate further historical information and evaluate what would be needed to restore the house and outbuildings. These efforts culminated in a 2000 Master's thesis by Michael Pulice, a then-Master's of Science candidate in Virginia Tech's Architecture Department, now the chief architectural historian for the Western Regional office (Salem, VA) of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Pulice concluded in his thesis that the remaining log outbuilding, long believed to be either a doctor's office or kitchen, is a surviving slave cabin and servants quarters.
- 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.
- Gibson Worsham (January 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Solitude" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying photo
- Pulice, Michael (2000). "The Log Outbuilding at Solitude: An Architectural and Archaeological Investigation of Virginia Tech’s Second Oldest Building" (PDF). Master's Thesis: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
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