Roanoke City Council signed off on an application to the Virginia Department of Transportation to seek additional money to renovate the historic Virginian Railway Passenger Station, located at the corner of Williamson Road and Jefferson Street. Built in 1909, the depot is one of the Virginian network’s most significant brick stations, and is also one of just a handful of Virginian buildings remaining. It served as Roanoke’s Virginian station until passenger service ended in January 1956.
A fire on the night of January 29, 2001 destroyed the building, which at that time housed Depot Feed and Seed Inc., a retail store.
The local chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, or NRHS, will manage the funds and the project. The NRHS has already been appropriated more than $500,000 in tax money for the renovation. NRHS spokesman Jim Cosby said the additional quarter of a million dollars will make it possible for the society to begin the renovation in earnest.
City Councilman Bill Bestpitch said “It’s really good to see the passenger station is finally going to be renovated. I know a lot of people have been looking for that for a long time.”
Cosby said the project would benefit the city in several different ways. The most obvious – it would clean up a long-time eyesore near a property in which Carilion recently spent millions to build a new medical college. It would also increase the property value and create jobs.
The society intends to open a museum on the property in the smaller baggage and express building, dedicated to former employees of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, but the biggest part of the renovated building would be leased to a commercial business.
Cosby said the society was in talks with several “interested parties” about using the building as a business location, but declined to elaborate.
It is also envisioned that the station will provide the public with a comfort station at the midway point of the Mill Mountain Greenway and will also serve as a gateway to the Riverside Center for Research and Technology.
– From News Partner WSLS 10