Preservation Foundation Celebrates Projects and People From Bent Mountain to Fincastle

Roland E. Cook School, a 1915 Classical Revival, three-story building, was renovated for adaptive reuse as market rate apartments.

For 18 years, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation has celebrated preservation of structures, environmental and educational projects and lifetime achievement. Awards are presented in the fall and endangered sites are recognized in the spring.

Alison Blanton, Foundation president, said this year’s recipients are “exciting because they reflect the broadening range of historic preservation projects as we celebrate recent renovations in Salem and Vinton, in addition to the City of Roanoke, as well as an exhibit of African American history in Botetourt County.”

This year’s award’s recipients are:

  • Preston Place, Salem, for stewardship
  • Boxley Building, Roanoke, adaptive reuse
  • Jefferson Center main entrance, Roanoke, restoration
  • Roland E. Cook school building, Vinton, adaptive reuse
  • Old Persinger Cemetary, Roanoke, stewardship
  • Ride Solutions, Roanoke, education
  • Springwood Cemetery, Roanoke, stewardship
  • Ann Rogers, Roanoke County, advocacy
  • African-American exhibit in Fincastle, education

The circa 1821 Preston Place, probably the oldest building in Salem, was carefully and quickly transformed into the White Oak Tea Tavern by a Salem Historical Society committee led by Ginny Savage and Dave Robbins. After the Brown family donated the property to the Society, the committee faced the task of developing kitchen, dining, retail and parking areas for a business. This involved architectural, site and archeology plans, termite and asbestos abatement, new sewer drains, reinforced floors and handicapped accessibility.

The Boxley Building, prominent downtown office building built in 1921,  has been reconfigured in part as a dormitory for international students attending North Cross and Roanoke Catholic private schools. Living on three floors are 21 students and 10 faulty members in the Wilson International Boarding Program, led by Lucas Thornton and his associates. Built by W.W. Boxley, a former Roanoke mayor, the eight-story structure of granite on the first floor and beige enameled brick with terra cotta decoration, is a state and national historic landmark.

During a capital campaign for the Jefferson Center, the need for restoration of its grand entrance toward Campbell Avenue was identified.  The stairs were dangerous, blocking accessibility for walkers.  After meticulous architectural review, the original handrails were used and the landing and stairs were restored to the original grade by H&S Construction.

Roland E. Cook School, a 1915 Classical Revival, three-story building, was renovated for adaptive reuse as market rate apartments. The $3 million project was nominated for the state and national registers as a result of the work done by Old School Partners and Hill Studio, working with Roanoke County. The 1-acre site was rezoned and the building was designed to accommodate its new use while retaining its historic character.

The Persinger Cemetery, a century-old burial ground near the intersection of Memorial Avenue and Edgewood Road in Southwest Roanoke, has been cared for by the Doris and James Neal family since they moved to a home in nearby Norwich neighborhood in the mid-1960s. While cleaning up their section, they discovered the cemetery was covered with trash, fallen trees and overgrowth. The late James Neal and his son-in-law have mowed the grass and maintained tombstones and fencing. The Foundation plans to work with Doris Neal to identify funding to install an interpretive marker at the site.

Ride Solutions has developed a History by Bike tour of historic sites as part of an alternative transportation awareness program of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.  Rachel Rhueland and Jeremy Holmes of Ride Solutions organized the tour with support from the Foundation to identify historic sites and provide background information.  The self-guided tour, on websites and facebook pages of Ride Solutions, features a map and historic photographs.

Springwood Cemetery on 10th Street,NW, near Int. 581, has been cared for by C.W. Turpin, an African-American contractor, who brings his crew in to mow, weed, seed and maintain the property. Some have estimated that a thousand African-American burials are in the cemetery, mostly in unmarked graves. In genealogical research, the late Robert Bird found many names of persons buried there which are posted.

Ann Rogers is a long-time environmental activist who has worked tirelessly to protect the Bent Mountain area from the impact of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In her research, she made formal proposals for two rural historic districts and has corresponded with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other agencies. She developed a context for the apple industry and emphasized the historic significance and unspoiled natural areas of Bent Mountain for state and federal agencies.

Through extensive research by the late Ed Barnett and his sister, Judith Barnett, of African American communities, schools, churches and families in Botetourt County, an exhibit was prepared and displayed in the Fincastle Library and Botetourt County Historical Society Museum. A slide show of the exhibit is on display at the museum.



Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Related Articles