Solitude is a historic home, NHRP site, Virginia Landmark, and the oldest structure still standing on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. It was originally constructed as a log cabin in 1801 by James Patton Preston, though over the years it has been used for a wide variety of functions. VT has used the building as a clubhouse, human nutrition and food laboratory, interior design studios, offices, and more. Restored in 2011, Solitude serves as a fine example of mid-to-late 19th Century Greek Revival architecture. The interior is not yet open for tours, but visitors can view the exterior from the campus duck pond.
Backstory and Context
Since its purchase by Virginia Tech, the house has served a variety of purposes. It was used as a college infirmary from 1882 to 1886. Subsequently, it became a residential area for various members of the faculty. It also briefly functioned as a clubhouse for returning WWII veterans; during this time dances were regularly held in the front two parlors. In the 1960s and 70s, Solitude housed the Hokie Club. Then, after 1974, several academic programs used the structure. Solitude has been a human nutrition and food laboratory, interior design studio, offices, and more.
The historic home was added as a Virginia Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and 1989, respectively. Architecturally, Solitude is a two-story, L-shaped, 5-bay log and frame dwelling with a hipped roof. In addition to the home itself, contributing properties on the property include a stone spring house and a log kitchen or office. Much archaeological work and research has gone into determining the original purpose of the outbuildings. In 2011, the structure underwent restoration efforts to return it to its mid-to-late 19th Century appearance. Much of this effort was funded by the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation of Richmond, Virginia.
Solitude is situated in a landscaped park adjacent to the central campus area. Though plans to restore and furnish the interior are not yet complete, the exterior of the building can be viewed from the Duck Pond, one of the most scenic spots on Virginia Tech grounds. Visitor parking passes are available from the Visitor Information Center, as well as the Virginia Tech Police Station outside of Information Center hours.
"Solitude." Virginia Tourism Corporation. Last modified August 29, 2016. https://www.Virginia.org/listings/HistoricSites/Solitude/.
Virginia Tech News. "Virginia Tech celebrates reopening Solitude." March 30, 2011. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/03/033011-development-solitudeopening.html.