Edgar A. Long: The Man

Portrait of Edgar A. Long

The son of former slaves, Edgar Allen Long was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1871. He attended a local primary school in his hometown and in 1891 he entered the Tuskegee Institute while working in the printing shop to earn money for tuition. After graduating from Tuskegee Institute, Long worked as an editor for the "Sentinel", a local newspaper in his hometown, and as a bookkeeper in the iconic all-black Penny Savings Bank.

In 1897, Long received an invitation from Charles Marshall, a fellow graduate of Tuskegee Institute and the principal of the Hill School in Christiansburg, Virginia, to join the staff at the school. Later that Fall, Long accepted Marshall's invitation and became the school's Assistant Principal and Treasurer.  He served in that officefor 9 years before becoming Principal in 1906 upon the death of Charles Marshall. Edgar Long was principal of Christiansburg Institute until his death in 1923.

Edgar A. Long: The Building

Built in 1927 in the Georgian Revival-style, the Edgar A. Long building is a 2 ½ cube shaped brick structure named after Edgar Allen Long, the school’s principal from 1906-1924. Of the original 14 educational buildings that once stood on the Christiansburg Institute’s former 185-acre campus, the E.A.L. building stands as the last surviving structure and is the only one named after an African-American in Southwestern Virginia.

It was common for students to help build many of the structures on campus.  For the E.A.L building, students performed all the excavation work and laid the underground soil pipe.  The foundation of the building is concrete and has a net usable square footage of approximately 9,700 square feet.

The building officially opened for classes in December of 1928 and had classrooms for a multitude of subjects including: Physiology, Latin, Agriculture, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, Bible, and General Science. The wide central hallway and large classrooms with high ceilings allowed the building to also house P.E. classes and serve as general recreational space.


On December 6, 2000, the Virginia Historic Resources Board and the State Review Board added the Edgar A. Long building to its list of historic landmarks. In 2001 it was listed  on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Christiansburg Institute 1866 to 1966 logo with tiger, alumni pride