Blacksburg plans to renovate historic Price House | Local News

BLACKSBURG — Much of it is spiritualized in a well-aged two-story house that sits almost inconspicuously in a neighborhood just east of downtown.

Nearly two centuries old, the structure guarded by a white picket fence at 107 Wharton St. is known as the Price House. It spent much of its existence as a residence, including once as a residence for a president of the institution that came to be called Virginia Tech.

The weather, however, inevitably took its toll on the building, prompting Blacksburg officials to begin planning a renovation of the historic property.

“It’s part of the historic properties we own,” Deputy City Manager Chris Lawrence said.

The Price House is included in the city’s Capital Improvement Program, an ongoing series of infrastructure projects that the locality plans to carry out over a period of several years.

Design work that is expected to cost the city about $23,000 and is expected to begin within the next year must first be completed to provide a full breakdown of the house’s needs, Lawrence said.

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Although the city has maintained the home since it was donated to the locality in the mid-1980s, including replacing breaks when needed, there are issues such as a structural separation from the chimney, said Lawrence.

Blacksburg then plans to renovate the home by around 2024, a phase expected to cost around $265,000, according to project details provided by the city.

The house sits outside Blacksburg’s historic 16 plazas, the blocks that originally made up the town.

Historical information found on, which Lawrence referred to, indicates that the house was built in the 1840s.

Robert Nelson Conrad was living on the property when the telegraph was delivered announcing that Blacksburg would be awarded a land grant for what is now Tech, according to the website.

Conrad was president of the Preston and Olin Institute, a Methodist academy that turned its construction over in the 1870s to trustees of what was then called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Thomas Nelson Conrad, who became president of the VAMC in the 1880s, lived in the Price House in the 1870s. He was also known to have served as a Confederate spy during the Civil War and to have participated in a failed plot to to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln.

Couple Walter and Lucie Price bought the house in 1900, and their son Nelson Price was born there nearly a decade later.

After Nelson Price died in 1985, the house was donated to the city.

Price left behind an iris garden that the city has since maintained with the help of volunteers.

“It’s full of irises. It’s beautiful,” Lawrence said. “It was Mr. Price’s legacy that he planted.”

Since the city took over the property, it has been home to a nature center program – first overseen by Dean Crane, who is now the city’s director of parks and recreation, and later by the non-profit association. non-profit SEEDS (Seek Education, Explore, Discover).

SEEDS, which moved into the Price House in 2009, organizes a number of activities for young people such as summer camps.

Among the things just outside the house and immediately visible from Wharton Street are birdhouses, a rain barrel and a pair of children’s picnic tables.

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