The brick buildings across the tracks are the former headquarters of the Norfolk and Western. When the railroad was formed in 1881, the headquarters were located in Lynchburg, from the previous company. In 1883 a new office building was first completed on the site closest to the tracks. This building held the company offices until January 4, 1896 when a large fire damaged the building beyond repair. By July 1897, a new six-story building on the same site was complete enough to have some offices move in.
In 1905, an identical building was added resulting in the two buildings you see today. This was the corporate address for the N&W for almost a century. Within the railroad this was known as GOB-South, or "the old building."
The N&W decided to build an additional new office building to the north of the existing offices on Jefferson Street. The old and new buildings were connected through the basement and with an overhead enclosed walkway. The building, known as GOB-North or "the new building" is a tasteful design that holds up well today, designed by local architect Paul Hayes and completed in May 1931.
After the headquarters of Norfolk Southern were relocated to Norfolk, the company looked towards a smaller, more modern office building on the corner of Franklin and Williamson roads, just south of the City Market
area. On completion, Norfolk Southern donated the two original buildings to the Roanoke Foundation for Downtown, Inc. GOB North "the new building" was donated to the Roanoke Higher Education Center. It is home to a number of colleges and universities from across the state. GOB South, "the old building" was turned over to the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority which creatively adapted the property to unique apartments using the famed N&W address; 8 North Jefferson as its name.
(photo captions) · It is easy to see how a fire might have started in the days of paper files. This is just one office, among many, involved in freight traffic billing in 1925, with its mountains of paper. · Additional building well underway in 1905. · The twin South buildings do not look too different today than in this September 1920 scene. · In January 1930, the work is proceeding for the North building in this view from the Hotel Roanoke lawn.
All Photos unless otherwise credited: Norfolk and Western Railway/Kenneth L. Miller CollectionPanel Design and Content by Miller Design & Photography ©2006