Growing up together

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

It is impossible to consider the Town of Farmville and not think of Longwood University, or the other way around. The two cultures, although separate, have become so enmeshed that it is tough defining a boundary between them. Each has come to depend on the success and growth of the other as a determining factor of its own. This premise has never been more provable than present day.

It has taken time for the two to get to here and now, however.

The 180 year-old relationship between the two began in 1839, with the founding of Farmville Female Seminary Association. The school has gone through several name changes over the years, from Farmville College in 1875 to Farmville Normal School in 1884 and finally, after several other short–lived name changes, to Longwood College in 1949. Longwood achieved University status in 2002. Today it stands as the third oldest University in the state and one of the 100 oldest institutions of higher learning in the nation.

Farmville, which wraps around the university, is steeped in history as well. Robert Russa Moton School was one of the five cases that made up Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case leading to desegregation 65 years ago. It has taken much effort to come to grips with the past. Farmville has found a way to move forward without trying to erase the memory of those dark days. On the contrary, the Moton museum stands at one end of the university grounds today. It is a steadfast reminder of where Farmville began and what it has overcome.

Currently, the Town of Farmville is updating its Comprehensive Plan. The updates to land use definitions and zoning ordinances will define a new path toward economic and residential expansion. The town is also considering road projects that will vastly improve traffic flow. Farmville is planning to grow.

It was no surprise, then, when Longwood University announced another step toward the realization of its own 2015 Master Plan. The University has been steadily expanding. The Upchurch University Center, Sharps and Register residence halls and Brock Hall student success center are all finished. The reason for the most recent announcement relates to the construction of a new Longwood music department.

The General Assembly authorized the development of detailed architectural work during its most recent session, moving the project one step closer to construction approval.

When developing the 2015 Master Plan for Longwood University campus planners and architects had the goal of “strengthening the ties between campus and historic downtown Farmville.” Farmville and Longwood University are both indeed growing.

They are growing together.

NOEL OLIVER is a staff writer for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. He can be reached at