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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.