Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Carvin House

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Institution Name: Hollins University
Original/Historic Place Name: Music and Art Hall
Location on Campus: 8148 E. Campus Dr.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1889original construction Unknown
1926addition of front entrance Unknown
1958renovation Unknown
1985conversion Unknown
1995remodeled Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: solid brick masonry
Walls: solid brick masonry
Roof: wood framing; planking; standing-seam terne metal
ca. 1889academic department building (music and art)
ca. 1926private residence (faculty)
ca. 1958residence hall
ca. 1985administration (alumnae and development offices)
ca. 1995-present (2007)residence hall (international students)
ca. 2003-present (2007)academic department building (English, MFA program in creative writing)

Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Constructed in 1889 as the Music and Art Hall, Carvin House occupies the former setting of a fortified log cabin built by early settler William Carvin. The site of the hotel at Botetourt Springs upon which Hollins is built was originally part of a royal land grant of 900 acres, given to the Welsh pioneer in 1746 by King George II. Around 1820, when Charles Johnston purchased a tract of 475 acres to build the Botetourt Springs Resort, the remains of Carvin's fortified log house stood on a rise north of the mineral springs. William Carvin is an important historical figure in the region, and a number of places bear his name, including Carvin's Creek, which runs through the campus, and Carvin's Cove, a source of water for the City of Roanoke.

Built at the top of a hill overlooking the Front Quadrangle, the two-story brick Music and Art Hall rose impressively behind the chapel, featuring two "large airy studios with well-tinted walls and fine skylights," a Victorian double-storied balcony across the front of the building, and a covered passageway connecting the facility to Main Building. After the completion of Presser Hall in 1926, the Music and Art Hall was converted to a faculty residence and renamed Carvin House. At that time, the front porch and balconies were removed and the side entrances bricked in; a new doorway copied from that of Westover Plantation, the estate of William Byrd II on the James River, added a Georgian touch, with its heavy scrolls flanking a pineapple, traditional symbol of hospitality. In 1958, an increase in student enrollment resulted in the building's renovation to a residence hall. Carvin remained a student dormitory until 1985, when it converted for use by the Alumnae and Development Offices, and, in 1995, the building was once again remodeled to provide housing for international students. Plans are now under way to relocate the English department to Carvin House.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Meredith, Molly. "An Historical and Architectural Guide to Hollins College." M. L. S. thesis, Hollins College, Roanoke, VA, 1997.

Niederer, Frances J. Hollins College: An Illustrated History. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1973.

Vickery, Dorothy Scovil. Hollins College, 1842-1942: An Historical Sketch. Roanoke, VA: Hollins College, 1942.

Whitwell, W. L., and Lee W Winborne. The Architectural Heritage of the Roanoke Valley. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1982.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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