In 1901, it
was moved to Buena Vista, Virginia. An old hotel at Fry's
Spring in Charlottesville was considered as a possible
site, but the Buena Vista Hotel, designed by Stanford
White (now known to be incorrect), was selected as the
better location, majestically sitting on a hill overlooking
the city and the surrounding mountains. The Buena Vista
Hotel had been built as part of the Buena Vista iron ore
boom about 1890. One of the first buildings erected in
the town, was a Queen Ann hotel overlooking the town.
Principal social events took place here. In July 1890,
it was completely destroyed by fire which started in the
The hotel's 1892 brochure description:
"a beautiful structure of pressed brick, Cleveland
stone and ornamental shingles, occupying a hill 100 ft high
and commanding a full view of the town, the river and the
picturesque mountain scenery surrounding it. It has 140
rooms, of which 93 are chambers and five are parlors. From
its four towers, 130 ft high, the country can be seen for
miles and miles around." By the time the hotel was
finished, it had set back the Buena Vista company $125,000.
It changed hands several times over the next years.
With this move, Dr Rowe formed the Southern
Seminary System of schools. It consisted of schools at Buena
Vista, Bowling Green and Alderson WV. At Buena Vista, Southern
Seminary flourished. By 1910 there were more than 100 students,
with half of them from outside Virginia.
At the Buena Vista school, Mr J S Engle, who
was a partner in the school from 1910 until his death in 1915,
directed the curricula while Dr Rowe directed the life of the
students. 6 yrs after the Southern Seminary moved to Buena Vista
the Bowling Green Female Seminary failed & was closed.
Dr Rowe had done an excellent job of establishing
Southern Seminary as an educational institution of distinctive
service. He allowed no social interaction between the sexes
and forbade dancing or card playing of any kind.
While the school continued to grow under Dr
Rowe's administration, the property (as had been true of the
Bowling Green property) depreciated steadily. The building was
in bad state of repair, the grounds were barren of trees &
shrubs, and cows roamed at large over the campus. A watering
trough near the back door of the building assured a constant
procession of live stock around the bldg.
Such was the scene when Dr Robert Lee Durham
his wife and daughter arrived in Buena Vista. Dr Durham who
was already highly respected as an educator, bought 1/2 interest
in Southern Seminary in 1919, and with his family became the
resident head of the school. By this time, Dr Rowe was already
spending most of his time on his farm "Holly
Hill" in Caroline County and was eager to turn the
running of the school over to someone else. Dr Durham became
Southern Seminary's 2nd President in 1919.
Mr H Russell Robey married Margaret Durham and
purchased Dr Rowe's 1/2 interest in the school.