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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Evolution of a Neighborhood Name

 
 
Evolution of a Neighborhood Name Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, October 3, 2019
1. Evolution of a Neighborhood Name Marker
Inscription.  Today's Gainsboro neighborhood and the surrounding area has been referenced by many names over the years. The first settled area was known as Big Lick in the 1800s, named after the large salt marsh near the Great Road. In 1835, the settlement was chartered as the Town of Gainesborough by Major Kemp Gaines. When the development of the platted town failed, the Gainesborough name gradually fell out of favor. In 1852, with the establishment of the Big Lick Depot by the railroad, the name "Big Lick" became standard. In 1882, the Town of Big Lick became the City of Roanoke.

Over the years, the spelling of Gainesborough was shortened to Gainsborough and Gainsboro. The historic name persisted in Gainsboro Road, and institutions such as the Gainsboro School and the Gainsboro Library took their names from their location along the road. Residents referred to the area as Northwest or Northeast, based on the quadrants designated by City leaders in 1888 that divided Roanoke along Jefferson Street and the railroad. The resurgence of the Gainsboro name appeared in the 1970s as part of a redevelopment plan to revitalize the area. Stone gateways constructed
Marker detail: Historic Gainsboro image. Click for full size.
By Sanborn Maps
2. Marker detail: Historic Gainsboro
This map depicts the evolution of the Gainsboro community from early settler days to the present. The base is Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps TM from 1919; these are overlaid with historic and modern features.
with the realignment of Gainsboro Road in the 1990s now bear the name, as does the Gainsboro Historic District, which encompasses some of the oldest structures remaining in the area.

Today, the name Gainsboro applies generally to the neighborhood from Orange Avenue to the railroad tracks, and from I-581 west to 5th Street.

A Gainsboro Timeline
through early 1700s: Native hunters track game near area salt licks
1740s: first permanent settlers
1798: "Big Lick" postal station established
1835: Town of Gainesborough chartered
1852: Virginia and Tennessee railroad built through Roanoke Valley
1867: First Baptist Church (Colored) established
1874: Town of Big Lick chartered
1881: Shenandoah Valley Railroad arrives
1882: Big Lick becomes Roanoke
1882: Hotel Roanoke built
1902: existing St. Andrew's Church dedicated
1915: Burrell Memorial Hospital opens in house on Henry Street; first to serve blacks
1916: Roanoke NAACP founded
1917: Harrison School opens
1920s: heyday of Henry Street
1921: Gainsboro Library opens in Odd Fellows Hall
1921: Burrell Hospital moves to McDowell Avenue
1923: Strand Theater built
1928: Lucy Addison High School built
1941: current Gainsboro Library opens
1948: Claytor Memorial
Marker detail: View of Gainsboro from downtown Roanoke<br>(circa 1924) image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: View of Gainsboro from downtown Roanoke
(circa 1924)
Looking north along Jefferson Street, which divided Northwest and Northeast. Norfolk and Western Railway General Offices (now the Roanoke Higher Education Center) are in the center.
Clinic opens
1950s: Roanoke begins urban renewal efforts in Northeast
1958: Viscose Plant closes; mass layoffs at N&W Railway
1966: I-581 completed through Gainsboro
1968: Roanoke Civic Center construction
1971: Gainsboro Redevelopment Plan calls for redevelopment in Northwest area
1995: Gainsboro Road/Wells Avenue realignment
1996: Gainsboro Library on National Register
2004: Henry Street Historic District
2005: Gainsboro Historic District
 
Location. 37° 16.536′ N, 79° 56.379′ W. Marker is in Roanoke, Virginia. Marker is on Wells Avenue Northeast east of North Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling east. Marker is located in a small sidewalk plaza on the north side of Wells Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Roanoke VA 24016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. From Frontier to Urban Community... A Gainsboro Prelude (here, next to this marker); Social and Cultural Life (here, next to this marker); Milestones in Education (here, next to this marker); A Once-Vibrant African American Community (here, next to this marker); Health Care and Medicine (here, next to this marker); Civil Rights Trailblazers (here, next to this marker);
Marker detail: View of Gainsboro<br>(Northeast and Northwest) image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: View of Gainsboro
(Northeast and Northwest)
Looking north over the Hotel Roanoke. St. Andrew's Church is in the upper left, with First Baptist Church (Colored) in front. Commonwealth Avenue leads off to the east.
The Influence of Churches in Gainsboro (here, next to this marker); Hotel Roanoke (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
 
Regarding Evolution of a Neighborhood Name. Gainsboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places #05001276.
Henry Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places #04001276.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Gainesborough Big Lick Roanoke
 
Also see . . .  Gainsboro, Roanoke, Virginia (Wikipedia). Located in the neighborhood and listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the Burrell Memorial Hospital, Gainsboro Historic District, Gainsboro Branch of the Roanoke City Public Library, and Henry Street Historic District. (Submitted on November 29, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansSettlements & Settlers
 
Marker detail: View of Northeast, looking north along<br>4th Street image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: View of Northeast, looking north along
4th Street
Norfolk and Western Railway roundhouse and machine shop are in the foreground. The original alignment of Williamson Road curves around the wooded hill at top.
Evolution of a Neighborhood Name Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, October 3, 2019
6. Evolution of a Neighborhood Name Marker (wide view)
 

More. Search the internet for Evolution of a Neighborhood Name.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 30, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 27, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 64 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 29, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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