The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio - A Collection by Hilton
Beginning and ending with the influence of a railroad is where The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center's story first begins. With a vintage passenger railway system located directly across the street, Frederick J. Kimball of the Norfolk and Western Railway ordered the hotel to be built in 1882 and the prominent structure first opened its doors to the public on Christmas Day. Its construction utilized the help of more than 1,000 railroad workers, who erected the historic building on a sprawling hill and watched it become a haven for Roanoke's numerous visitors soon after.
After receiving plentiful business from travelers, the hotel endured a fire just six years after opening, rendering it closed for several months. In 1899, the hotel was restored and renewed, emerging victorious against its struggle. Hosting a variety of guests, the hotel underwent its next renovation in 1938, this time for aesthetics and not out of necessity, which afforded the hotel its classic Tudor Revival architecture that is so revered today. The property's spaces showcased bountiful antiques in the hotel's lobby, dazzling chandeliers, and room structures entangled with a vivacious history, from a space where the hotel's signature delicacies were first established, to an area that was used as an officers' club during World War II.
The railroad company consistently worked to ensure that the hotel was in exceptional shape throughout its initial reign. The hotel was constantly updated, from featuring state-of-the-art amenities, to adding new wings and spaces for guests' added comfort. After an extended run of adoration by its plentiful visitors, the hotel closed its doors on November 30, 1989 as the Norfolk Southern Corporation determined its focus was to be on rail service alone and sold the property to the Virginia Tech Real Estate Foundation. Soon after, its contents were sold and purchased over the next 17 days, and the hotel's initial identity began to erode.
In 1993, after the hotel had achieved a status of vacancy for the next four years, funding allowed the hotel to grow established once more, after a generous bundle of private and public donations were received for its advent. The hotel swiftly received renovations and opened its doors once more in April of 1995, this time boasting a brand new conference center which contained 63,000 square feet of meeting space, allowing the hotel to welcome up to 1,200 guests within its walls.
The spirit of the railroad perseveres today, as the original passenger station was converted in 2004 into the Roanoke Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau and also a museum showcasing the talented photography of O. Winston Link. Bygone details remain that recall the hotel's charming era of inception, as the hotel's Palm Court boasts a ceiling with delicately-painted constellations exactly as they appeared to individuals who watched the first train travel to Roanoke in 1852, as the hotel's splendid history came to fruition. The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio - A Collection by Hilton contains the signature elements of its legacy, while also welcoming guests to create new memories in a city so revered by its visitors.