Vitruvian Man

Roanoke Rock Hotel

Roanoke was a thriving frontier town in 1886 when the Rock Hotel was constructed and housed a saloon with brothel upstairs. The town center on Oak Street was frequented by cattlemen and railroad workers; and over the years, the building served as a grocery store, hardware store, doctor’s office, and café, among other uses.

By 2006, years of neglect had left the structure precarious and unsafe, as residents wished to see the ghost of a building with obvious historical character infused with new life. Even after the most recent owner donated the building to the City with the understanding that it be restored, considerable effort was required by the City leadership and concerned citizens to rally sufficient support to fund the $800,000 restoration project. With no clear intended use for the space, RGA was selected to develop a plan to fully restore the exterior of the building and provide much needed multipurpose areas inside. RGA Architects began documenting the existing structure in December 2006. Since the entire east wall, most of the roof, and all of the second floor were gone, field measurements and historical photographs were the designers’ only clues as to how to reconstruct it. A pile of rubble behind the building yielded an iron threshold, multiple stone lintels, and much of the stone from the vanished east wall. 

The project broke ground in May 2007 and was completed in November 2007, after overcoming several significant unforeseen challenges.

The original mortar used on the structure had almost entirely eroded. Using historic methods of mortar mixing, along with the stone masons’ experience, the three remaining walls were re-pointed. The front wall was completely disassembled after numbering each stone and reassembled. The east wall was entirely reconstructed using the rediscovered stones along with additional indigenous stone.


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Vitruvian Man