Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Once-Vibrant African American Community
Older than the new City of Roanoke developing to its south, Gainesborough ("Old Lick") was growing as a racially-diverse neighborhood that was the center of the African-American community by the 1890s. Businesses serving the community were located on Gainsboro Road, from Gilmer Avenue north to Rutherford Avenue, and along First Street (later Henry Street) north of the railroad tracks. Doctors, lawyers, ministers, educators, industrial laborers (mostly at the railroad), domestic workers, and self-employed residents lived together as a cohesive community where residents looked after one another.
By the early 1920s, the neighborhood became a self-sustaining African-American community. Strong churches, schools, social institutions, and professional and commercial services developed to serve the growing black population, otherwise denied services in the segregated South. Consequently, skilled black leaders emerged to become locally and nationally influential in social, civic and business affairs.
From the early 1900s through the 1960s, there was a vibrant business district and various social activities for the black community
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 37° 16.535′ N, 79° 56.381′ 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. Social and Cultural Life (here, next to this marker); The Influence of Churches in Gainsboro (here, next to this marker); From Frontier to Urban Community... A Gainsboro Prelude (here, next to this marker); Evolution of a Neighborhood NameMilestones in Education (here, next to this marker); Health Care and Medicine (here, next to this marker); Civil Rights Trailblazers (here, next to this marker); Hotel Roanoke (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Gainesborough • Big Lick • Roanoke
Credits. This page was last revised on April 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 27, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 222 times since then and 71 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on November 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 29, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.