The Virginian Railway Passenger Station in Roanoke was built in 1909. This depot, the Virginian’s most significant brick station, is one of just a handful of Virginian buildings remaining. It served as Roanoke’s Virginian station until cessation of passenger service in January 1956. It was nearly destroyed by fire in January 2001 and remains vacant and damaged. The station is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The station is significant under Criterion A in the area of Transportation because of its contribution to the railroad industry and its facilitation of transport to and from Roanoke and under Criterion C in the area of Architecture for its unique visual characteristics and methods of construction that were used for only a brief period of time and only by the railroad industry.
Ownership of the station was transferred by Norfolk Southern Corp., successor to the Virginian Railway, to the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (the “Roanoke Chapter NRHS” in 2005). Now the Roanoke Chapter NRHS, in partnership with the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation (“the Preservation Foundation”), is preparing to restore this historic structure and return it to a combination of public and private use. The passenger station building will be leased to a commercial tenant (or tenants) to provide an income stream to sustain future building operations and costs. The smaller baggage and express building will be used as a museum in which the public can learn about the role the Virginian Railway played in the development of Roanoke and the state’s railroad industry. The museum will also provide access to the archives of the Roanoke Chapter NRHS and help to promote Roanoke as a National Railway Heritage District and destination for the research of railroad history. The station will provide the public with a comfort station at the midway point of the Mill Mountain Greenway. The station will also serve as a gateway to the Riverside Center for Research and Technology.
The Virginian Station occupies an excellent location for adaptive reuse. The station is a unique architectural landmark that has a strong sense of identity and is highly visible from both the Jefferson Street and the Walnut Street bridges. Located at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Williamson Road, it stands at the gateway from downtown to Riverside Center, the biomedical park currently being developed by Carilion. This development is bringing tremendous growth and investment to Roanoke on a scale that relates only to the establishment of the Norfolk & Western headquarters in the late 19th century. In addition to the biomedical park, plans are also underway to establish a new five-year medical college campus and a 250,000 square foot medical clinic across the Jefferson Street bridge from the station. To the north of the station, plans to renovate the Virginia Can Company complex (Heironimus Warehouse) for adaptive reuse are underway as well. The Virginian Station is strategically located along the greenway system at the juncture of Smith Park, Mill Mountain, and the segment connecting Williamson Road to downtown. The station’s location at the base of the Walnut Avenue bridge is also advantageous as Walnut Avenue serves as an access point for the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mill Mountain Zoo, both of which bring tourists to the Roanoke valley and into Roanoke by way of Walnut Avenue. The Virginian Station is a unique building located at a prime site for access, visibility and activity. Donate to the project. Project Status