Roanoke History Museum

The Roanoke History Museum and the O. Winston Link Museum, both operated by the Historical Society of Western Virginia, share space in the the former passenger station of the N&W Railway.

Also housed in the historic building are Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge offices and the Roanoke Valley Visitors’ Bureau. In addition to the museum exhibits, the Society manages free exhibits in the public space of the building, which has greatly enhanced the experiences of people dropping in to get information on the local area. The Society also manages the Raymond Loewy Gallery of industrial design, which is free to the public.

In the galleries that require admission, we have the strong photography of O. Winston Link, who captured the end of the steam locomotive along Norfolk & Western tracks. Historical displays related to the region are also on display. A full creation of the history presence is underway. We also have changing exhibits, from traveling exhibit and those created from our own collections.

Monthly Kegley Lectures, sponsored by George Kegley, board member emeritus, are held September through May at Christ Lutheran Church on the corner of Brandon Avenue and Grandin Road in Roanoke.

The Historical Society continues its mission to collect, preserve, curate and interpret the artifacts, stories and lore that make up the history of our region.

The History Museum of Western Virginia collection comprises the largest repository of material devoted to tracing human history of Western Virginia, and especially of the Roanoke area. Nearly 6,000 three-dimensional objects, 1,000 textiles, 1,300 books, 8,000 photographs, 8,000 documents and hundreds of maps, slides and postcards are in the collection, available for displays.

Among our holdings are:

Family History

  • Prestons
  • Watts
  • Campbell
  • Ferguson/Terry
  • Breckenridge

Corporate History

  • Papers of the Roanoke Land and Water Companies
  • Photographs from the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, 1890-1990
  • Census book of Roanoke from 1883, showing Roanoke had a population of 5,000

Native American History

A rare example of “Rawrenoke” beads from which the city later took its name Collection of stone axes and projectile points.


Other notable items:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s letter describing his scientific observations on a visit to the Peaks of Otter
  • A land grant deed signed by Thomas Jefferson
  • A desk, books and complete set of medical implements used by local surgeon/soldier Col. William Fleming, who led regiments in the state militia before and during the Revolution
  • Lithograph of the Peaks of Otter by noted German romantic artist, Edward Beyer, created during his sojourn in Virginia during the mid-1850s
  • The “carte de visite” of Robert E. Lee
  • A Victorian-era horse-drawn buggy (housed at the nearby Virginia Museum of Transportation)