Monday, December 24, 2012

What's on Your Mind? Historical warehouse building to get new life

Kevin Kittredge
is The Roanoke Times' What's on Your Mind columnist. whatsonyourmind


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Q: What's the story with the lone building left standing on Jefferson Street where the scrap metal yard used to be?

Max Standar, Roanoke

A: What you're looking at there, Max, is the remains of the old Adams, Payne and Gleaves Lumber Co. site, which dates to about 1900.

According to the city of Roanoke website, the company once provided a wide range of building materials for the rapidly growing city, but during the Depression, many of the structures were leased to other enterprises.

The site was bought in 1942 by the Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Company, which occupied it for more than 60 years. The site is now owned by Carilion.

The building may have been a warehouse. "The plan is to rehabilitate it for a restaurant," said Bill Rakes, who with former Roanoke City Manager Bern Ewert and others has formed Roanoke River Associates, which plans to redevelop the site and has a purchase option on the property. "It's old and would qualify for historic tax credits."

Big, big plans have been proposed for that general riverside area, involving retail and office space, housing, a park and river walk, a kayak launching site, and streets and sidewalks. Aaron Ewert, project manager for WVS Companies in Richmond, which is overseeing the development, said $100 million to $150 million worth of improvements are slated for the area over the next decade, with construction on the first apartments to begin next summer. The city has designated millions of dollars in grants and tax rebates for public infrastructure for the area. Mayor David Bowers has said it will "dramatically change the skyline of our city."

Stay tuned -- and if anyone has more specific information on the building's history, let us know.

When in Rome ...

Some weeks ago I asked what girls named for their mothers might be called instead of the masculine-sounding "junior," and was swamped with replies. Here's another, from Laura Taylor, whose suggestion comes from ancient history:

"I happened upon your recent columns about naming customs for girls and a female equivalent of 'Junior,' and wondered if anyone had mentioned examples from imperial Rome. ... In that first century you have someone like Julia the Elder, daughter of the Emperor Augustus, who had daughters named Julia the Younger and Agrippina the Elder, also known as Agrippina Major. Agrippina the Elder's children included Caligula and a daughter named Agrippina the Younger, also known as Agrippina Minor. ... Given the tendency of the Julio-Claudians to recycle names over and over, having that 'Elder/Major' vs. 'Younger/Minor' distinction comes in handy when called upon to memorize and reproduce their family tree for a history exam!"

Thanks, Laura. I'm not sure too many modern American women would be thrilled to be known as the "elder." Now, "major" -- that's a different story. That's almost as good as "princess."

Have a question? An answer? Call Kevin Kittredge at 777-6476 or send an email to Don't forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.

Look for Kevin Kittredge's column on Mondays.

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