Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Firehouses, a Depot and More…

Continuing with our tour of Roanoke Virginia’s historic sites…

Located in Roanoke’s City Market Historic District, Fire Station No. 1 is a former fire station listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. 

This Fire Station served as one of the longest continuously operating fire stations in the Commonwealth of Virginia from its completion in 1907 through the opening of a replacement facility in 2007.   Today Fire Station #1 serves as a fire museum that’s open to the general public as well as a stable for the Roanoke Police Department's Mounted Patrol.

The Virginian Railway Passenger Station is a former depot listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Virginian Station served as a passenger station for the Virginian Railway from 1910 to 1956.  It was the only station constructed entirely with brick along the entire length of the Virginian’s 608 miles of track.  This building was badly damaged by a fire in January of 2001.  As you can see from these photos, a complete restoration is underway.

This is a handsome renovation, that’s for sure!  Love the detail…

In the early 20th century, William Page, a civil engineer and coal mining manager, joined forces with a silent partner, industrialist financier Henry Huttleston Rogers (a principal of Standard Oil and one of the wealthiest men in the world).  Their objective was to develop the Deepwater Railway, a modest 85-mile long short line railroad to access untapped bituminous coal reserves in some of the most rugged sections of southern West Virginia.   Major railroads blocked the project and they wouldn’t give reasonable rates to interchange the coal traffic. 

Using Roger’s resources they quietly incorporated another intrastate railroad in Virginia.  Through that railroad, they secured the right-of-way needed all the way across Virginia to the port of Hampton Roads.  The 2 projects were legally joined and renamed the Virginian Railway in early 1907.  Despite efforts to stop them, they then built the "Mountains to Sea" railroad right under the noses of the big railroads and the elite group of a few industrialists (so-called "robber barons") who controlled them. This modern well-engineered railroad with all-new infrastructure could operate more efficiently than its larger competitors.

This lonely little structure sits between 2 sets of tracks in the rail yard in Roanoke.  It’s just across the tracks and a little down from the Virginian Depot.  I believe that it’s called the “JK Tower” at the “JK Junction”.  In the on-line listing, “Extant Railroad/Railway Structures” as provided by the Railroad Station Historical Society, Inc., despite the ‘tower’ appellation, this building is described as a 1-story cabin.  See the listing of Roanoke railroad structures at:

As per information that I found on line at, JK Tower was not always JK Tower.  Apparently, in the pre-merger days between the VGN and the N and W, it was known as the Walnut St. Tower.  The ‘tower’ was originally a two-story wood building… Back in the day, this building’s purpose was to control the crossing of the Virginian Railroad over the Norfolk and Western Railroad’s Winston-Salem district line.

This is old Fire Station No. 5 and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This neighborhood fire station was 1 of 3 built in 1911.  It hasn’t been modified!  It was actually designed to look like a home, architecturally blending into the residential neighborhood.  This station housed one of the city's first fire trucks to be powered by an internal combustion engine.  This building served the city as a fire station until 2010, when it was turned over to a local nonprofit organization.

This huge old home is located close to Black Dog Salvage.  It’s called Mountain View…but it’s also known as the Fishburn Mansion.  Junius Fishburn was a prominent local banker, businessman and philanthropist.  The 2 1/2-story rectangular Georgian Revival style mansion was built in 1907.  The structure features a colossal portico consisting of two clusters of three fluted Ionic order columns. 

Now referred to as Mountain View Center, this elegant 40 room mansion was donated by Mr. Fishburn to the City in 1955.  His stipulation was that it be used solely and exclusively for public recreation purposes.  Today, the house is open to the public Monday-Thursday from 10am-4pm and Friday from 10am-2pm.  The house is available for private rentals.  To learn more, go to  

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. David I love all these buildings but especially the first!! Is absolutely lovely!

  2. I love railroads and wish that rail travel was more convenient than what it currently is. I have always been impressed by the old homes in VA, many of which date back to the Civil War and before.

  3. Fire Station No.5 is definitely unique and would fit in great with stately pillared homes. #1 is architecture at its best for a municipal building and I love that little window under the tower and the molding below it. The last home with its huge portico is outstanding and needs to be on a Virginia horse farm! :-) Great interesting post, as usual, Dave! Take care