Through several names and locations, driven by the good work of dozens of volunteers, the Historical Society of Western Virginia (HSWV) has recorded the history of Roanoke city and county and neighboring counties since its founding in 1957, stemming from Roanoke City’s 75th birthday, a Diamond Jubilee. The Society has grown into a major partner in Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke and a leader in Western Virginia historical circles. The late Edmund P. Goodwin, a founding father of the Society, was its first president.
Established in 1957, the Historical Society promotes an interest in a broad spectrum of history with emphasis on that of southwestern Virginia. It collects, preserves, interprets and makes available materials relating to that history. Its mission is “making yesterday available today…inspiring tomorrow.”
The Historical Society operates the the O. Winston Link Museum (which includes the Roanoke History Museum Collection), the Crystal Spring Pump Station, and Kegley Publications. Through its entities, it works with area schools and colleges to provide educational services to adults, secondary students and younger children throughout southwestern Virginia. The Society is overseen by an executive director and a citizen board.
The O. Winston Link Museum opened to the public in January 2004 and is housed in a restored Norfolk & Western Railway passenger station overlooking the active tracks of Norfolk Southern trains. The Link Museum’s photography collections focus on the striking work and recordings of O. Winston Link, captured between 1955 and 1960. Link’s work constitutes the single most important photographic series taken of western Virginia and documents the end of steam railroading in the U.S.
The Link Museum also showcases the vast collection of artifacts and photos of the Historical Society of Western Virginia, which were formerly housed in Center in the Square.
The Crystal Spring Pump Station is located on Jefferson Street next to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital at the foot of Mill Mountain. It is, listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Kegley Publications produces an annual journal and books about local and regional history. It is supported by the Kegley Publication Fund established with the Foundation for Roanoke Valley in memory of F.B. Kegley of Wythe County, author of Kegley’s Virginia Frontier, which explores the area’s beginnings 1740-1783.