When Thomas Nelson Community College opened in 1968, there were just three buildings — Diggs, Moore and Harrison halls.
They haven’t changed much.
The three were cookie-cutter designs, copied from a prototype meant to serve all of Virginia’s new community colleges created by a Richmond architecture firm. Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave and Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon have almost identical copies.
“The original buildings that we have here were highly functional but architecturally undistinguished,” said TNCC president John Dever, who started teaching English classes in Diggs Hall in 1975.
TNCC hopes to change that. The state community college board at its most recent meeting gave TNCC the green-light to build a $38 million, three-story replacement for the buildings, slated to be finished in late 2022.
The college has struggled with declining enrollment in recent years, bringing budget deficits along with it. Enrollment peaked in the 2011-12 academic year at 16,404 students, but was down to 12,210 last year.