This is the lobby of the Patrick Henry circa 1925. (For a larger view of these photos, doubleclick on them.)^
By DAN SMITHEd Walker's renovations in downtown Roanoke continue to reveal remnants of other times as he attempts to turn the aesthetics clock backward. His newest project (following closely on the rehabs of the Hancock and the Cotton Mill in recent years) at the Patrick Henry Hotel is 100 days old and already 1925 is showing through all over the lower floors.
A press conference this morning was designed to showcase the hotel and publicize the fact that it is a commercial venture seeking renters for its offices, retail clients and a restaurant to occupy the lower floors, in addition to renting the 126 residences on the upper floors. But the discoveries dimmed that bulb considerably.
Blair Godsey of the Altus Group, speaking for Walker this a.m., said, "The success of the Patrick Henry's redevelopment will rely on the inspired commitment of five to six flagship businesses. These companies will be able to choose from among some of the most distinctive and well appointed commercial spaces in Virginia." Those spaces, he said, will rent for "something under $20" a square foot per year. "We have not firmly established a rate," he said, "but it will be competitive."
Plans include 17,000 square feet of office space on the mezzanine qand second floor; 9,300 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 14,000 square feet for document storage. Plans at this point are to open in the fall of 2011, Godsey said.
Godsey said the construction crew has "made a lot of progress in a very short period." The cleanout of the upper floors--above the fifth--is finished and roofing materials are in place for construction "when the weather allows," said construction director Nathan Vaught.
Vaught, a man of few words who seems more intent on getting back to work than talking to the press, nevertheless took great delight in showing off some of the "finds" that his crews have uncovered in stripping the hotel to its walls. He said that the hotel had undergone several renovations over the years and there was a lot to take down.
Among the finds are original blueprints, a pencil drawing of the lobby on cloth, printers blocks with architectural drawings and ornamental pieces from the ceiling of the mezzanine. There was also a large safe uncovered in the lobby.
One of the most interesting finds was the discovery that the hotel's original fuse box, hidden behind years of renovations, not only still works, but also had fuses in them that were as good as the day they were installed. Don't make 'em like that any more. Same could be said for the Hotel.