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Sweet Briar College recognized in "Virginia's Favorite Architecture"

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:37 pm

Online voters named Sweet Briar College’s Sweet Briar House their favorite piece of architecture in Virginia, according to the Virginia Center for Architecture’s online “Virginia’s Favorite Architecture” survey.

The landmark, which has been home to the presidents of Sweet Briar College since 1901, was voted more beautiful than botanical gardens, famous mansions, universities, churches, the state capitol and even beloved sites like Monticello and Poplar Forest.

“One of the greatest privileges of serving Sweet Briar is being the steward of this wonderful house and of all the history and relationships it represents,” Sweet Briar College President Jo Ellen Parker said in a news release issued Thursday.

The original farmhouse was built by Joseph Crews in the late 18th century and later expanded by Elijah Fletcher, who bought the house and plantation property in 1830. Fletcher was a prominent figure in Amherst County and Lynchburg. In the 1850s, the original house was redesigned and the renowned gardens established.

Voters in the survey — the results of which were released Thursday — also gave a nod to the beauty of Bedford’s Poplar Forest, ranked 10th; The Lynchburg Museum and Monument Terrace, ranked 21st; and Point of Honor, ranked 50th. The survey included 250 significant structures across the Commonwealth.

“I think Lynchburg should be very proud of these historic treasures,” Lynchburg Museum Director Doug Harvey said in a news release issued Thursday. “We are pleased that others throughout the Commonwealth also recognize what architectural jewels these structures are.”

The 250 structures, buildings bridges, monuments and memorials, nominated to take part in the survey represent the best of Virginia’s rich architectural heritage, according to the Virginia Center for Architecture. Architects were asked to nominate the structures in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects.

Almost 30,000 votes were cast during November and December 2013. The poll, although unscientific, allowed one set of votes per IP address.

The VCA announced the winners Thursday as part of the opening of the “Virginia’s Favorite Architecture” exhibition in Richmond.

“Keeping in mind that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean best, the results make it clear that we forge deep personal connections to architecture,” Virginia Center for Architecture Executive Director Helene Combs Dreiling said in a news release.

“Buildings that hold sentimental value for us are just as meaningful as those that are considered to hold great architectural or historical significance.”

Virginia’s Favorite Architecture at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond highlights each of the 100 structures identified as Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. The exhibit runs through October.

The Top 10

1) Sweet Briar House, Sweet Briar College, c. 1790.

2) Monticello, c. 1770.

3) Burruss Hall, Virginia Tech, 1936.

4) LUMENHAUS, Virginia Tech, 2009.

5) The Academical Village, University of Virginia, 1822.

6) War Memorial Chapel and Pylons, Virginia Tech, 1960.

7) Washington Dulles International Airport, 1962.

8) Moss Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech, 2013.

9) Christ Church, 1773, Alexandria.

10) Poplar Forest, 1809.

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