History Museum of Western Virginia

In September 2016, the Historical Society of Western Virginia announced the consolidation of the History Museum of Western Virginia, and the O. Winston Link Museum, into one location at the former passenger station of the N&W Railway.

This combined museum, where the Link Museum has always been located, is also shared with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Roanoke Valley visitors’ bureau. Beginning in 2017, local and regional history exhibits were added to the nationally celebrated O. Winston Link collection.

The History museum’s lunchbox lectures will move to the Link, and the monthly Kegley lectures will continue at Christ Lutheran Church on the corner of Brandon Avenue and Grandin Road in Roanoke.


The Historical Society will continue its mission to collect, preserve, curate and interpret the artifacts, stories and lore that make up Roanoke’s unique and exciting history.


The History Museum of Western Virginia collection comprises the largest repository of material devoted to tracing human history of Western Virginia, a story that reaches to our roots as a commonwealth and a nation. 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 of the History Museum and its Watts Library. A sampling of notable objects includes:

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
  • Objects representing theaters and cultural life of this era
  • Marstellar carved stone cabin replica displayed at the Jamestown Exposition of 1907
  • Militaria including a Navy Cross and a Medal of Honor