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The group says it has succeeded in plucking from oblivion some 41 percent of the historic sites it has listed.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
After 25 years of trying to protect the region's history, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation took stock of its own history.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the foundation, which is known for its annual list of the most endangered historic sites in the valley. The foundation has had some success in bringing attention to more than 100 of the valley's most vulnerable historic properties since it began producing the lists in 1996. Those sites include commercial buildings, houses, farms and other places.
According to a news release, 41 percent of the sites that have appeared on the lists have been preserved. However, 24 percent have been demolished and 35 percent are still threatened.
The foundation wants people to know that many of these sites can still be useful in the 21st century, said foundation member George Kegley.
"The whole point is that if you can find a use for these places, they ought to be preserved," he said. "Sometimes, it's just a matter of finding the right people to do something with these places."
The foundation added one structure to its growing list of threatened sites.
The Riverdale/Huff-Rutrough House at 1905 Riverdale Road in southeast Roanoke is a two-story brick home built by Isaac Huff and his wife, Maria, shortly after the Civil War. The house and farm were later owned by banker Peyton Terry, who was a prominent developer in Roanoke's boom years around the turn of the 20th century.
"Terry was a big man, and he built the first skyscraper in Roanoke," Kegley said with a trace of dry humor. "Eight stories."
The farm was subdivided in 1916 to make room for houses for workers at the American Viscose plant.
Today, the privately owned house has a recent history of citations for code violations, which the foundation cites as evidence of neglect. Roanoke's online records show 13 citations since 2008, ranging from weed violations to inoperable vehicles to rental property maintenance issues.
Most of those cases have been closed, but some are still active. The foundation says that the owner could get the house listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and in the National Register of Historic Places. Those steps would qualify the property for state tax credits for rehabilitation.
"It's a substantial house," Kegley said. "It's one of the few brick houses from the Civil War era that we still have."
The foundation is also reiterating its support for fixing the Compton-Bateman House, also known as Villa Heights, in northwest Roanoke. The house, built about 1835, was damaged by a roof fire in 2011. Insurance money available for repairs or demolition expires next year.
"The city is about to let $500,000 to $600,000 of insurance money go to pot," Kegley said.
For more information about the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation's list, visit www.roanokepreservation.org.
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