The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 16

STREETS OF ROANOKE

GEORGE DAVIS PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ROANOKE CITY LIBRARY VIRGINIA ROOM

GEORGE DAVIS PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ROANOKE CITY LIBRARY VIRGINIA ROOM

ing the 1950s and 60s, the commercial district remained vibrant
with Ben's Barbershop, Wasena Hardware, Pete Parsell Grocery,
Wasena Market Grocery, Circle Television, and Wasena Cleaners.
The most dramatic change to Main Street came in 1939 with
the completion of present-day Wasena Bridge, at a cost of just
under $332,000. It replaced the small steel bridge built by the
land development company. Massive by Roanoke standards, the
Wasena Bridge officially opened with fanfare on Saturday, August
12, 1939. With excited motorists lined up to cross the structure,
city police allowed vehicles to begin crossing 30 minutes before the
formal opening, but at 4 p.m., the Virginia Heights and Wasena
buses moved across the bridge marking its official use. The Roanoke
Times reported the following day that "motorists by the hundreds
came to inspect and cross the new bridge."
For several weeks, Main Street became one of the most travelled roads in Roanoke with the new bridge and its sodium vapor
lights set atop large concrete pillars.
Later generations found another attraction for going along
Main Street at Wasena Bridge, the United States Army Jupiter
rocket. Standing several stories high, the rocket's nose could be
seen above the bridge railing by passing vehicles. The rocket was
part of the collection of the Virginia Museum of Transportation
that opened in 1963 under the bridge. Today, the rocket sits at the
museum's current site along Norfolk Avenue downtown. For several years, however, the rocket remained near Wasena Bridge after
the museum had relocated following the disastrous flood of 1985.

SIGNIFICANCE
Main Street remains a vital gateway to the Wasena and Raleigh
Court neighborhoods as well as the primary connection between
downtown Roanoke and Brambleton Avenue (via Brandon Avenue),
leading to well-populated southwest Roanoke County.
The historic structures of the nearly century-old commercial
corridor at the south end of Wasena Bridge remain, and hold
potential for a restored neighborhood business district. Recent
efforts to revitalize Wasena surrounding Main Street have borne
fruit. The Green Goat restaurant has opened in the former Virginia Museum of Transportation exhibit building at Wasena Park;
the Roanoke River Greenway is alive with bikers and pedestrians; and in the former Roanoke Ice and Cold Storage building
along the Roanoke River is the Wasena Tap Room and Grill that
opened in 2012 on the ground floor and 128 apartments on the
floors above. The multi-million dollar ice house renovation into
the River House Apartments was completed in 2011. All of this
public and private investment is within a block of Main Street.

WHAT HAPPENED?
As with many older city neighborhoods, the 1970s proved to be
difficult, as residents moved to county suburbs for newer homes
and homogenous school populations. Shopping malls sapped
16 | MAY/JUNE 2017

Top: The station at the corner of Main and Wasena is now a Getty Mart.
Above: The old ice house now hosts spaces for living, dining and climbing.

small, neighborhood businesses of customers, and many of the
once-prominent older homes were carved up into apartments.
Main Street began to show its age, and the quaint stores and shops
became used (and some still are) for storage.
City officials and the Wasena Neighborhood Forum have developed an ambitious plan for Wasena that focuses on Main Street, especially its commercial center. City leaders recently announced the
replacement of Wasena Bridge with an $11 million post-tension
arch span bridge by 2022 to include bike lanes, wider sidewalks,
and overlooks at key points where the bridge spans the Roanoke
River and railroad tracks.
These efforts, coupled with the private investment in the ice
storage plant and in structures along the greenway system nearby,
hold promise for a renewed Main Street. Just within the past two
years, new businesses have opened in the 1000 block of Main
Street including the Barber Shop on Main, the Red Rooster Coffee
Tasting Room & Lab and True Blue Yoga Studio. If these efforts
prove sustainable, then what is old will truly become new again.
-NELSON HARRIS
THEROANOKER.COM


http://www.THEROANOKER.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker May/June 2017

Worth a Click
From the Editor
Lunch With
Streets of Roanoke
The Gist
Events Calendar
Best of Roanoke 2017
Architects on our Architecture
Fun & Functional: Inside the Glickfield Home
Roanoke Valley Health & Wellness: The A-Z
Tacos ā€˜nā€™ BBQ: A Great Spot for Each
The Dish
Where are They Now?
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Intro
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Cover1
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Cover2
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 3
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 4
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 5
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 6
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 7
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Worth a Click
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 9
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - From the Editor
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 11
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Lunch With
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 13
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Streets of Roanoke
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 15
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 16
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 17
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - The Gist
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 19
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 20
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 21
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 22
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Events Calendar
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 24
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 25
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 26
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Best of Roanoke 2017
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 28
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 29
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 30
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 31
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 32
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 33
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 34
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 35
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 36
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 37
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 38
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 39
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 40
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 41
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 42
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 43
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The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 45
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 46
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The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 63
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 64
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 65
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 66
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 67
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 68
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 69
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 70
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 71
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 72
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 73
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 74
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 75
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Architects on our Architecture
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 77
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 78
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 79
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 80
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 81
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 82
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 83
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Fun & Functional: Inside the Glickfield Home
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 85
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 86
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 87
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 88
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 89
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 90
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 91
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Roanoke Valley Health & Wellness: The A-Z
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 93
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 94
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 95
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 96
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 97
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Tacos ā€˜nā€™ BBQ: A Great Spot for Each
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 99
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 100
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 101
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 102
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 103
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - 104
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - The Dish
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Where are They Now?
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Cover3
The Roanoker May/June 2017 - Cover4
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