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Nelson Harris is a Baptist minister and former mayor of Roanoke, Virginia. He has published a number of books about the Roanoke Valley including such titles as Downtown Roanoke, Roanoke in Vintage Postcards, Norfolk and Western Railway Stations and Depots, and then there is the title that Chuck Rowell brought to my attention as we were discussing what to feature here in History Notes, Virginia Tech. The cover of that book is shown at left. All of these books feature many vintage photographs that are really interesting to view if you are familiar with the subject of the book. Because a picture of an early “V.P.I. Cadet Band” appears on the cover of this book, we thought you would enjoy a sampling of the photos Rev. Harris has shared. Note that just a few of shots from the 119 page book are featured here but you are encouraged to pick up a copy — ISBN 0-7385-1651-1 — you will not have a problem finding it on the web. Another note: I have the hard copy of the book AND the Kindle digital version, which costs substantially less. I can tell you that viewing these pictures on a computer screen is far better than doing it the old fashioned way in print. The smaller versions of the shots below include the captions form Rev. Harris' book along with a comment or two from me. You can view full size versions of the photos by clicking on the photo or click HERE to view a slide show of all of them.

George McMichael HT ‘70

1958 Band

The cadet band eventually came to be known as the “Highty Tighties.” Here the band is on the Tech drill field in 1958. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Cadit Band

What would a military company be without a cadet band? The only two members identified are Eustis Lancaster, second from left, and Arthur Lancaster, fourth from left. This photo was taken on May 3, 1884. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Burrus 1936

Burruss Hall is certainly one of the most recognizable structures on the Tech campus. It originally went by the nickname “T and A Building,” in reference to it being the Teaching and Administration Building. Opened in June 1936, its name was changed to Burruss Hall in 1944 in honor of Pres. Julian A. Burruss, who served from 1930 until 1945. Dr. Burruss had served Tech in a number of capacities in addition to being president. In January 1945, Dr. Burruss was in automobile accident while returning from Roanoke, Virginia. The accident hampered his public appearances and college activities. One of the most visionary presidents to serve Tech, Dr. Burruss died on January 4, 1947. The above photograph was taken in 1939. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Missing Burrus

This is another image of cadets as they are in formation on the drill field for the Commissioning Ceremony of 1934. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Hmmmm --- notice anything missing to the left of Patton Hall. Like Burruss Hall? Burruss was built in 1936

1901 Band

From the book cover:

As the drum canvas denotes, this is the VPI Cadet Band from 1901. (DLA/University Libraries,


Davidson Hall, shown in 1932, was named for Prof. R.J. Davidson. The front section was completed in 1927, and additional sections were completed in 1933 and 1938. (DLA/ University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Dorm Room

If students think dorm rooms are tight today, here are cadets stacked in their bunk beds, c. 1890. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)


The Tech cadet band had the honor of marching in the inauguration parade for President John F. Kennedy in 1961. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)


Cadets mingle in the quadrangle in front of Barracks Number One, at left, in this photograph dated 1907. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)


Here is another image of the quadrangle surrounded by barracks and academic buildings, with cadets possibly changing classes. This photograph was taken during the 1917–1918 academic year. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Notice that the academic building was closer to Lane than Brodie Hall would be later.


The cadet band marches at the 1969 Liberty Bowl. Unfortunately, VPI lost to Mississippi, 34-17. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)


By 1930’s Miles Field had become Miles Stadium, providing a better venue for Tech sports. This image was taken in 1932. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

You can see the War Memorial Gymnasium in the background.

Upper Quad 1

This is a view of the college’s campus in 1894. This photograph shows Academic Buildings Numbers One and Two, in the background, and Barracks Numbers One and Two. (DLA/ University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Upper Quad 2

Here is the college’s campus as it looked in the 1894–1895 academic year. The barracks and academic buildings are located on the knoll to the right. The houses in the background are faculty row. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Upper Quad 3

This is another view of the college campus in 1894–1895. The buildings, from left to right, are Academic Building Number Two, Barracks Number One, Academic Building Number One, and the Commandant’s quarters. (DLA/University Libraries, VPI&SU.)


The cadet band marches in from the main walk near Barracks Number One, c. 1890. (DLA/ University Libraries, VPI&SU.)

Interesting shot. I think this is looking down on what is now the mall from between the two academic buildings with the town of Blacksburg in the background.