Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Main Building

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Hollins University
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Building
Location on Campus: 8060 Quadrangle Dr.
Date(s) of Construction:
1861-1869original construction David Deyerle Gustavus Sedon
Designer: brick mason--David Deyerle; master carpenter - Gustavus Sedon
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: solid brick masonry
Walls: solid brick masonry and some wood frame with siding
Roof: pitched roof is asphalt shingles and metal over wood framing and planking; original roof may have been slate; porch roofs are coal tar pitch built-up over wood decking, over 100 years old
1869-1890dining hall
1869-present (2006)residence hall (also parlor, reading room, recreation room originally; now, the Green Drawing Room)
ca. 2004-present (2006)admissions office
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (registrar, scholarships and financial aid)

The second building financed by Ann and John Hillins, Main Building was envisioned by Charles Lewis Cocke as "one of the most elegant edifices in the South." Original plans for the structure included three floors of balconies along the entire front and ends supported by Ionic columns and crowned with a cupola, but this image remains only on diplomas and catalogues of 1860. Construction of Main began on April 17, 1861, the day that Virginia seceded from the Union, and scarcity of materials and labor during the Civil War delayed completion of the building for eight years. Sections of Main were used as they were completed, prompting students to name to skeletal structure "The Wilderness."

In addition to serving as a student dormitory, Main's left side contained a chapel that rose through the first and second floors, while the basement served as a dining hall until 1890. After completion of Bradley Chapel in 1883, Main's chapel was converted to a parlor, reading room, and library. For close to nine decades, the right side of Main Building's first floor housed the office for Hollins presidents, from Charles Lewis Cocke to John Everett in 1956. This area now contains admissions offices, and the Green Drawing Room, used for receptions, readings, and lectures, occupies the former chapel space. The Cocke Sitting Room, designated in 1959 as a memorial to Charles Lewis Cocke, is furnished with original Cocke family furniture and features the parlor fireplace mantel from the Botetourt Springs Hotel. The upper floors continue to serve as student residence halls.


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.


Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006