Virginia Tech’s Appalachian Studies Program presented “African American Experiences at Solitude” on June 15, 2018. The event, part of the 2018 Mountains of Music Homecoming, celebrated African American contributions to the New River Valley. The event also featured a proposed dedication of the “outbuilding” as “The Fraction Family Cabin,” named after one of the enslaved families who lived at Solitude in the 1800s. 

Solitude is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest structure on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, Solitude is believed to date back more than 200 years and is an example of Greek Revival architecture. The house was expanded in 1851 by Col. Robert Preston, who received the estate from his father, Virginia Governor James P. Preston. About 250 acres, the house, and several farm buildings on the estate were purchased by the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech) Board of Visitors in 1872 for $21,250. The frame house was restored in 2011 to its mid-to-late 19th century appearance and is now home to the university’s Appalachian Studies Program. 

Anita Puckett, director of the program, appears in the video and provided voiceover for it. 

Video by Ray Meese

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