History Museum of Western Virginia

In September 2016, the Historical Society of Western Virginia  consolidated its History Museum of Western Virginia with the O. Winston Link Museum at the former passenger station of the N&W Railway.

This combined museum shares space with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Roanoke Valley visitors’ bureau. Beginning in 2017, we also began adding 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.

In the galleries that require admission, we have maintained the strong photography of O. Winston Link and added historical displays related to the region. We also have created changing exhibits that have ranged from photography to mechanical banks of the early 1990s (on display in Spring 2018).

Monthly Kegley Lectures continue to be held 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. 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 Virginia Museum of Transportation)
  • Militaria including a Navy Cross and a Medal of Honor