Browse Exhibits (4 total)
Starting as a humble log cabin in 1801, Solitude grew to become the home of two Virginia governors, and the home of Robert Preston, who sold the property in 1872 to provide land for the new Virginia land grant college, Virginia Agriculture and Mechanical College, later to be known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
It is Virginia Tech's oldest structure, the "homeplace" of the University. Because of its rich historical and architectural heritage, Solitude was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and named a Virginia Historic Landmark in 1989.
An online exhibit on the history of Solitude was originally developed in early 2000. The archived version of the original exhibit is available online here. In 2020, it was migrated to a new platform/format and it was updated to include additional images and new information about digital items already included. The updated exhibit also features a page of additional resources located in Special Collections and University Archives and/or online about the building, its history, and the Preston family.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
This exhibit contains a selection of materials from the Fries Textile Mill Records, Ms1989-039, chosen to demonstrate the history of the mill, and its inextricable links to the community surrounding it. Fries was very much a company town, as can be seen in the variety of images, legal records, and community records they held.
What is most remarkable is not that these materials were created, nor even that someone decided that they were important enough to keep. What truly sets the exhibited pieces apart is that the mill administration was the body doing the collecting, and that the company deemed all of the documents here worthy of preservation. Keep that in mind as you peruse the exhibit.
This exhibit was created as part of the project, "They're Closing Down the Textile Mill: Creating Access to the Fries Textile Plant Records," funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) from 2018 to 2019.
New Town, a predominantly African American community central to the history of Blacksburg, Virginia Tech and Montgomery County, advanced alongside Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) through the better part of a century. The community eventually dissolved as Virginia Tech developed into the sprawling university that it is today.
Virginia Tech led redevelopment of the New Town area in the early 2000s and as a result, most traces of New Town are now lost to history.
In a campaign to uncover and highlight the history of lost, forgotten or marginalized groups and events, Virginia Tech’s Public History program participated in a collaborative project that would emphasize the geographical, spatial and population dynamics of New Town by providing this socially engaging and experiential exhibit for the public.
This digital version of the Virginia Tech Public History program’s efforts highlights the work done through the physical exhibition and through additional outside research.
The transcription, digitalization, and contextualization of Jeffrey T. Wilson’s 1913 diary constitutes the collaborative efforts of Virginia Tech history student Dara Green, Associate Professors of History Brett Shadle and LaDale Winling, Public Services and Reference Archivist Marc Brodsky, and Technical Archivist Adrienne Serra. Work with the diary began in the fall of 2013 and concluded in following year. At the time I, Dara Green, was an undergraduate within the History Department at the Virginia Tech. The diary was first brought to the attention of myself and my academic advisor Dr. Shadle by Marc Brodsky during a visit to Special Collections at Newman Library. The Jeffrey Wilson 1913 and 1928 diaries had be purchased by the University two years before from a rare book dealer based out of Portsmouth, Virginia.* Both Dr. Shadle and Mr. Brodsky recognized the value of the diary and were jointly eager to have some research done on the diary. It just so happened that I was in search of a research topic at the time. The diary intrigued me immediately, and I was excited by the prospect of working with a document about which relatively little was known within the confines of the university. None of us could have imagined then just how extensive this project would eventually become.
Cursory investigation of the diary revealed that it contained information relevant to subjects well beyond the narrow topic of segregation, contemporary to the period in which Wilson was writing. We knew then that our project had to be expanded and developed upon. We were fortunate enough receive funds to pursue further research from the Visible Scholarship Initiative. Over the following semester we embarked on the laborious process of transcribing the diary in its entirety. Contextualization and web-development took place over the fall of 2014. For my part I feel honored to have been involved in this project. I am proud of the work we have done.
*It is unknown to the project collaborates how the Wilson’s diaries came into the hands of this rare book dealer.