Gainsboro History Walk

Tour of historic Gainsboro Neighborhood

Gainsboro History Walk

Roanoke, Virginia 24016, United States

Created By: Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation

Tour Information

Gainesborough - Gainesboro - Gainsboro

A walking tour of Roanoke's earliest neighborhood. Explore the social, cultural, and architectural history of the Gainsboro Historic District, Henry Street Historic District, N&W Railway Historic District and Hotel Roanoke Historic District.

  • First platted neighborhood of early Roanoke 1835
  • Neighborhood evolution: Gainesborough to Big Lick to Roanoke (1835, 1874, 1882)
  • Norfolk & Western Railway - Company Offices, Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke Land & Improvement Company
  • Gainsboro Historic District (National Register of Historic Places) - People and Places of Significance
  • Henry Street - African American Center for Business, Culture, and Social Life (1900-1960)
  • Urban Renewal Devastation (1955-1980)

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

This plaza contains extensive information on the Gainsboro Neighborhood and its evolution. Gainesborough was chartered as a Town in 1835 in the area known as Big Lick. It was Roanoke's earliest neighborhood. Over time, the initial neighborh... Read more
Information on Henry Street as the Center for African American Business and Social Life
Pictures and Audio Stories of Life on Henry Street - Business, Social, Entertainment, Cuisine
The Strand Theatre (also known as the Lincoln Theatre), is one of the few surviving buildings on Henry Street. Famous black filmaker, Oscar Micheaux, operated from this building in the 1920s. Some of his films were shot locally.The building... Read more
The Hotel Dumas today has been restored as the Dumas Center. It houses offices and an auditorium. The 1917 building is one of the few that has survived on Henry Street. It was originally constructed as the Hotel Hampton by the Central Manu... Read more
In 1852 the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad built a depot on the north side of the tracks, west of First (Henry) Street. Later the Virginia and Tennessee merged with the Atlantic Mississippi and Ohio Railroad, which later merged to become ... Read more
In 1934, Oliver Hill, Sr. the famous civil rights attorney, returned to Roanoke and opened his first law office on the second floor of the Brooks Building located at 40 Centre Avenue after he graduated from Howard University Law School. ... Read more
GOB South was built in 1896 by the railroad at the corner or Shenandoah Avenue and Jefferson Street. It replaced an earlier Queen Anne Style building that was constructed in 1883 for the railroad and destroyed by fire.The existing buildin... Read more
GOB North was constructed in 1931 at the corner of Jefferson Street and Centre Avenue on the site of the former Stratford Hotel which had provided housing for railroad employees. The Art Deco Style building was designed by a young apprectic... Read more
This impressive stone building was constructed circa 1910 in theTudor Revival Architectural Style. Renovations over the years have altered the original architecture (windows have been replaced and entrances modified). The building was inita... Read more
Hotel Roanoke is one of Roanoke's most prominent and familiar cultural and architectural landmarks. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was built in 1882 by the Norfolk & Western Railway. It was originally a two... Read more
Now operated as a visitor center and history museum, this building was constructed in 1905 (Neoclassical Revival Architecture) and redesigned in 1949 by industrial designer, Raymond Loewy, known for his eclectic streamlined, modern product ... Read more
This is the oldest portion of Hotel Roanoke.
The Lick Run Greenway follows Lick Run on the eastern edge of Gainsboro. The now channeled waterway was an early tributary that fed the Big Lick Salt Marsh located east of Downtown Roanoke. It was a natural attractor for animals and native... Read more
Roanoke Land and Improvement Company Houses Walking along this street, you will see houses of early Gainsboro constructed in the late 19th and at the turn of the 20th Century. This neighborhood is part of the Gainsboro National Register His... Read more
This intersection of Jefferson Street and Gilmer Avenue hosts an early commercial building, Moses Store (circa 1900), which housed a family grocery store and residence (on second floor).  Across Gilmer Avenue is a vacant piece of property ... Read more
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church was constructed in 1902. It is of the High Victorian Gothic Architectural Style. The congregation was established in 1882 when the Catholic population gr... Read more
The Gainsboro Branch Library was built in 1942 for Roanoke's then segregated black neighborhoods. It is of the Tudor Revival Architectural Style and was designed by the Roanoke firm of Eubank & Caldwell. African American leaders called ... Read more
In 1947, Dr. John B. Claytor, Sr. and his family built the Claytor Memorial Clinic in honor of his wife, Roberta who wanted her husband and sons (Walter, John Jr., and Frank Claytor) to practice together. Dr. Claytor began his medical prac... Read more
Oliver Hill, Sr., the famous civil rights attorney known for his work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Brown v. Board of Education (1954), was raised in Roanoke. He lived with the Pentecost Family at this house at 401 Gilmer Avenue. He... Read more
Edward Richard. Dudley was the son of Roanoke's first black dentist, Dr. Edward R. Dudley. He grew up at 405 Gilmer Avenue, next door to Oliver Hill. Dudley attended Harrison High School, followed by Howard University, and St. John's Univ... Read more
Dr. James H. Roberts was a founding member of Burrell Memorial Hospital, the first hospital for African Americans in Roanoke. He lived at 411 Gilmer Avenue. His family continues to own and maintain this historic home.
Rufus Edwards lived at 415 Gilmer Avenue. He was a brakeman for the Norfolk & Western Railway and served as secretary-treasurer of the Association of Colored Railway Trainmen and Locomotive Firemen. In 1944, he was represented by his c... Read more
Constructed in 1898 as St. James Methodist Episcopal Church, the congregation of St. Pauls purchased the building in 1915. Prior to 1915, St. Pauls operated in the early 1880s from a church at the corner of Henry Street and High Street (Cen... Read more


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