Virginia military institute
communications & marketing office
Lexington, VA 24450-0304
Permit no. 14
Page 20,The Institute Report,April 2013
House Renovations Restore Historic Appearance
Historic structures around post are undergoing
extensive exterior renovations with an eye toward
historical accuracy, maintaining the integrity of the
buildings, and restoring their historical appearance.
These structures include several of the 19th- and
early 20th-century houses on post, including four
on Letcher Avenue.
“The Letcher Avenue houses are really the front
door of the Institute; they’re the first things people
see when they visit,” said Lt. Col. Dallas Clark ’99,
Institute planning officer. “They’re important
because of their age and historic value, and we want
to preserve them.”
Many of the houses had been repainted over the
years, and their color palettes changed with the
fashions of the day. Col. Keith Gibson ’77, executive
director of the VMI museum system, was consulted
to ensure the new finishes were historically
“I’m very pleased that our period houses are
being finished in period-appropriate palettes,”
said Gibson. “Coincidentally, those palettes are very much in sync with the
established Institute colors as they are, what with the barracks itself being
a mid-19th century structure.”
The most recent projects that have been converted from their early 20th-
century colors into more appropriate color schemes are the two houses
along Main Street and the Freeland House.
“That has been really well received by the local community,” said Gibson.
“People very much appreciate VMI’s sensitivity
to maintaining the historic character of these
Three Letcher Avenue Houses are scheduled
to be painted this spring with a historically
appropriate color palette.
In addition to renovating the exteriors of the
houses, VMI is committed to maintaining the
interiors while maximizing their usefulness to
“It turns out that office space is a very good use for
ensuring the preservation of these historic houses,”
said Clark. “It’s much more friendly on the structure
and easier to maintain than living space.”
The roofs of three Letcher Avenue houses have
been replaced, and the roofs of the two Main Street
houses are scheduled for repair in the coming
months, along with the roof of Jackson Memorial
Hall, which will be refinished from its current gray
to an aged copper color.
“As you’re coming down Letcher Avenue, the roof
on JM Hall is highly visible from the road. It’s one of the few roofs that is
visible from ground level, since our architecture tends towards flat roofs,”
said Gibson. For this reason it is important that the roof be maintained with
historical accuracy in mind.
“The earliest records and photographs indicate that the roof was painted
green, so by going with an aged copper color, we’re restoring it to its
historical appearance,” said Gibson.
The most recent house to be refinished in
period-appropriate colors was the Freeland
– VMI Photo by John Robertson IV.