Historical marker to honor Averett University history | Danville

Averett University will get its own state historical marker.

Buddy Rawley, the school’s vice president for institutional advancement, said the fixture should be installed in September and unveiled during a ceremony. The sign will be located in front of the school’s Main Hall at 420 W. Main St.

“We’re very happy that the state saw fit to let us honor Main Hall with a historical marker,” Rawley said Friday. “We look forward to early September, when we can share it with the community and our students.”

The state-approved marker was one of 12 announced Friday by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The Virginia Board of Historic Resources authorized the new markers during its public quarterly meeting in June.

Averett’s sign will inform viewers that the school began in 1859 as Union Female College, offering instruction to young women. The school was supported by three area Baptist associations, and moved from its original location downtown to a new 15-acre campus with a Neo-Classical Revival-style Main Hall — the current structure — in 1911.

Alumnae requested in 1917 that the school be renamed for the Averett family, which included trustees, presidents, principals and professors at the school, according to a news release from the department.

The school became a fully-accredited, co-ed, four-year college in 1971, combining liberal arts and sciences with professional programs.

Rawley said the sign will let the community realize how old the Main Hall building is and how magnificent it was when it was built in 1911. West Main Street is a popular area for walkers who could stop and read the marker, he pointed out.

“It will benefit students and visitors,” Rawley said. “It’s important for them to know the history of Averett.”

School officials sought the marker because of its Campaign for Main project to raise $4.9 million to renovate the residents’ life — or dormitories — in Main Hall, Rawley said. Officials hope it will be complete next summer, he said.

“We decided to apply to get it in conjunction with this [Campaign for Main],” Rawley said.

It will cost the school $1,770 for the sign and its installation, he said.

The school has a 10-year, $28 million plan to renovate all its dorm rooms, he said.

Averett has about 1,700 students, including traditional college-age students and adult learners. The school has its Main campus in Danville for traditional undergrads and adult learner sites in Danville, Roanoke, Richmond, Quantico, Chesapeake and Newport News.

Rawley said Averett will have its largest incoming freshman class this year, bringing its traditional, college-age student population up to 915-930.

John Crane reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at [email protected] or (434) 791-7987.