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Peddrew-Yates Residence Hall

610 Washington St. SW
Peddrew-Yates Hall
Peddrew-Yates Hall

Peddrew-Yates Hall was built in 1998. It is a suite-style building and commonly referred to as "PY." Peddrew-Yates Hall honors Irving Linwood Peddrew III, the first black student to enroll at Virginia Tech in 1953, and Charlie Lee Yates, the first black graduate of Virginia Tech in 1958. The Ujima Living-Learning Community is located in Peddrew-Yates Hall. 

Ujima Living-Learning Community

The Ujima Living-Learning Community (LLC) places a special emphasis on understanding the unique experiences of African-Americans in society, including their experiences in college. Located in Peddrew-Yates Hall, Ujima is open to students of all backgrounds who are interested in understanding, supporting, and learning about African American culture. The Ujima Living-Learning Community provides students with opportunities to be immersed in Black/African-American culture. Focusing on cultural enrichment and academic excellence, this community allows students with similar interests to partake in programming and dialogue surrounding Black/African-American culture. Click here to learn more about the Ujima Living-Learning Community!


Irving Peddrew III and Charlie Yates

Irving Peddrew III and Charlie Yates

In September 1953, Irving Linwood Peddrew III, was the first Black student admitted to Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 1951, Everett Pierce Ramey applied to study business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute; however, his application was denied because Black students were only considered for admission if they wished to study something that was not offered at Virginia State University, a historically Black public land-grant university. This made Virginia Polytechnic Institute the first historically white, four-year, public university in the former 11 states of the Confederacy to admit a Black undergraduate.

Although he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Peddrew suffered years of isolation and mistreatment. Peddrew was the only Black student among 3,321 white students on campus his first year. He was not allowed to live on campus or eat in the cafeteria. He lived with a Black couple, Mr. and Mrs. William Hoge, about a mile away from campus.

In the fall of 1954, three more Black students were admitted to the engineering program at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute: Lindsay Cherry, Floyd Wilson, and Charlie Yates, all from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. They, too, were not allowed to live on campus or eat in the cafeteria with their classmates.

After his junior year, Peddrew relocated to California where he worked in the aerospace and food industries. In 1958, Yates became the first Black student to graduate from Virginia Tech. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors. Yates later returned to Virginia Tech to teach in the Department of Mechanical Engineering followed by the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. In addition, he served as a member of the Board of Visitors.

In 2010, Yates passed away after a long battle with leukemia. His legacy continues through the Virginia Tech Yates Society. Click here to learn more.

In November 2002, Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist, held an oral history interview featuring Peddrew discussing his experience at Virginia Tech. The interview can be found here.

You can also click here for more Virginia Tech Black History featured in the University Archives.

Building History

Initially known as New Residence Hall West, Peddrew-Yates Hall was built in 1998. It was renamed and dedicated in 2003 during the 50th anniversary celebration of blacks at Virginia Tech. 

Originally Built:
Map Grid:
Abbreviation / Number:
PY / 041
37.22503, -80.41991