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Virginia Tech History Resources: Facilities, Campus, & Buildings

This guide details resources intended to help those doing research on the history of Virginia Tech, including the use of Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, and related resources.

Researching the Virginia Tech Facilities, Campus, & Buildings

Collections

Record groups may include posters, flyers, photos, organizational records, and more. Materials are divided into assigned Record Groups based on the organization or group and designated by the prefix, RG. For example, materials relating to the university Facilities division, campus, and buildings are primarily identified in RG 6/2/x and RG 6/3/x. Related material may be found in specific academic or administrative units, such as Newman Library building information in RG 23b/x.

Smithfield & Solitude Resources

Smithfield in Blacksburg is the historic home of the Preston family, one of the founding families of Blacksburg and Montgomery County, Virginia. It was built by William Preston (1729-1783) in 1774, and he named it in honor of his wife Susanna Smith. Solitude was built around 1801, either by Philip Barger, Jr. or James Patton Preston (1774-1843), William and Sarah's son and Governor of Virginia (1816-1819). James's uncle Granville Smith named it Solitude around 1808. James's son Robert Taylor Preston (1809-1880) was born at Smithfield, and he inherited and expanded Solitude in the 1850s. He sold his property to the university in 1872, living there until his death. 

Upwards of 250 African and African American people, including the McNorton, Saunders, and Fraction families, were enslaved at Smithfield, and many of them were later enslaved at Solitude. In 2019, Virginia Tech renamed the surviving outbuilding The Fraction Family House at Solitude in honor of the most numerous of the families and in honor of the contributions made by all the enslaved people forced to work on these plantations. The building is believed to have been a dwelling for enslaved people built around 1843.

Online Exhibits & Histories

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Land & Labor Acknowledgement

We thank the American Indian & Indigenous Community Center for providing this statement:

Virginia Tech acknowledges that we live and work on the Tutelo / Monacan People’s homeland and we recognize their continued relationships with their lands and waterways. We further acknowledge that legislation and practices like the Morrill Act (1862) enabled the commonwealth of Virginia to finance and found Virginia Tech through the forced removal of Native Nations from their lands, both locally and in western territories.

We understand that honoring Native Peoples without explicit material commitments falls short of our institutional responsibilities. Through sustained, transparent, and meaningful engagement with the Tutelo / Monacan Peoples, and other Native Nations, we commit to changing the trajectory of Virginia Tech's history by increasing Indigenous student, staff, and faculty recruitment and retention, diversifying course offerings, and meeting the growing needs of all Virginia tribes and supporting their sovereignty.

We must also recognize that enslaved Black people generated revenue and resources used to establish Virginia Tech and were prohibited from attending until 1953. Through InclusiveVT, the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (that I may serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence, we commit to advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.