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Hollins's earliest remaining building and the first building constructed specifically for the use of the school, East Building is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in Southwest Virginia. In 1855, Ann Halsey Hollins of Lynchburg, Virginia persuaded her husband John to make a gift of $5,000 to what was then Charles Lewis Cocke's financially struggling Female Seminary at Botetourt Springs. To show their gratitude, the trustees renamed the school the Hollins Institute in honor of Ann Hollins and invited John Hollins to serve on the board, a position he held until his death in 1859. Ann Halsey Hollins continued to support women's education through generous gifts to Hollins until her invested funds of $140,000 were lost during the Civil War. The Hollins' first gift was used to initiate an ambitious building program, beginning with construction in 1856 of a long-needed new dormitory. East Building occupies the area near the former gravesite of Charles Johnston, owner of the Botetourt Springs Hotel, and the three-story brick structure originally housed classrooms, offices, parlors, and living quarters.
In 1945, weakened masonry required the replacement of East's entire rear wall. A new foundation was laid, and the original brick was used to face the wall. The reconstruction in 1980 of a center stairway descending from the first floor balcony to the ground floor restored the East Building to its original appearance as shown in a lithograph in the 1856 college catalog. The building's first level contains one of the early classrooms, furnished with the original desks made in 1844. Today, East Building is primarily used as a student residence hall and is divided into three sections, housing fine arts students, Spanish students, and juniors and seniors. The Hollins Writing Center, now in its 26th year, occupies a portion of the building's lower level.
Hollins College Quadrangle. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1974.
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.