Part of the original Olin and Preston Institute. When the Morrill Act was passed, the Rev. Peter Henry Whisner and Dr. Harvey Black approached Senator John E. Penn and Delegate Gabriel C. Wharton, securing the legislators’ support to push to get the land-grant money to Blacksburg and offering the Preston and Olin facilities for the land-grant school. Penn pushed the petition in the senate, sweetening the proposal by promising that Montgomery County citizens would contribute $20,000 to a land-grant school in Blacksburg, and the Senate voted on March 13, 1872, to accept the offer. The House of Delegates followed suit the following day. The resulting Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College opened on Oct. 1, 1872, in the building that had served the Olin and Preston Institute. The VAMC Board of Visitors also purchased a house (Solitude), buildings, and 250 acres of land from Col. Robert T. Preston. This did not sit well with the approximately 100 schools and colleges elsewhere in the state, including at the University of Virginia, who had pursued the land-grant money. Albemarle County growers were especially vocal about the land-grant college being located in Blacksburg. One grower, H. G. Magruder, persisted in criticizing what he felt was a lack of agricultural accomplishments of the college, and specifically the agricultural experiment station, established in 1886. He was so critical that the governor appointed him superintendent of the station in 1890. Mr. Magruder was quite influential and came with many good ideas including starting the precursor to the Extension service. However, he died within six months of his appointment.
Lane Hall, known initially as Barracks #1, was completed in 1888, 16 years after VAMC opened its doors. It is the oldest existing building constructed by the college that became Virginia Tech.
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act and created the land-grant university system. With the sweep of his pen, Lincoln made education more accessible, shaping the future of a young United States.
Virginia Tech celebrates this land-grant heritage 150 years later.
Reception and opening
July 11, 4:30 pm
Newman Library, 2nd floor
September 5-October 19
Newman Library, 1st floor
James I. Robertson
Thomas E. Mackey