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Main Building, Southern Virginia University (Buena Vista Hotel, Southern Seminary)

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Buena Vista Hotel, Southern Seminary
1890–1891, Sidney W. Foulk. University Hill Dr. at E. 26th St.
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
  • (HABS; Photograph by Renee Bieretz)
  • (HABS; Photograph by Renee Bieretz)
  • (Photograph by Royster Lyle Jr.)

Built as the Buena Vista Development Company's hotel in 1890, the Main Building is one of the best surviving examples of the exuberant Queen Anne hotels that land speculators used to host prospective clients. Its New Castle, Pennsylvania, architect built a number of hotels in the Valley, including one in Lexington. That hotel and most of the Valley hotels are now gone, but the Buena Vista hotel survived because when the boom collapsed shortly after the building's opening, it was taken over in 1901 by Southern Seminary. The building served as a junior college until 1996, when it was purchased by members of the Mormon Church for development as a four-year coeducational university. Three stories of curving, wraparound verandas, a central ogee-domed turret, side towers, large windows, and various roof angles make for a picturesque composition. The rich red color of the brick walls contrasts with the white trim of the wood. Located on a hill overlooking Buena Vista, the building is a key architectural landmark for the town.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Main Building, Southern Virginia University (Buena Vista Hotel, Southern Seminary)", [Buena Vista, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 131-131.

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