History of Hotel RoanokeInscription:
Roanoke’s "Grand Old Lady" stands on the hill overlooking downtown Roanoke. Styled to appear like an old English inn, it was the grand hotel for Roanoke since it opened in 1882. The Hotel was located near the new Union Station and a treat for passengers just off the smoky, sooty trains.
The Hotel quickly became known for its fine dining and amenities. The Hotel Roanoke was THE place Roanokers would eat for occasions, banquets, and wedding receptions. It was simply "the Hotel," no explanation needed.
The railroad also constantly held events, meetings and dinners at the Hotel for employees, visitors, and dignitaries. Not blessed with the scenic setting of the Greenbrier on the Chesapeake & Ohio, but renown for its services as well, the Hotel went through its trials and tribulations through the years, but not once, until December 1989 were the doors closed. Over the years, the original structure changed its looks and accommodations, but would not stray far from its original styling.
The Hotel, original General Office Building and Union Station were all styled to make a family of railroad-owned buildings.
In 1982, Norfolk and Western merged with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Corporation. NS concentrated on their primary business, operating their railroads,
and were less interested in being in the hotel business. When the headquarters was moved from Roanoke to Norfolk in the 1980s, it marked the end of an era in many ways. The Hotel was given to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
Virginia Tech and the City collaborated on a new partnership. Tech remodeled the Hotel, the City built a conference center. It continues to be "the Hotel" for Roanokers and now serves more patrons than ever since it reopened in 1995.
Connecting the Hotel with downtown Roanoke is the Market Square Walkway with a viewing area over the NS mainlines. There are a number of informative panels with historical information available in the walkway.