Roanoke's Preservation Foundation unveiling new ways to connect to history

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - A group of Roanoke history buffs are working extra hard this month to get you to pay closer attention to the history that's all around you. May is Preservation Month and the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation is using this as a chance to make Roanoke's past a part of your future.

"It's not what anybody expects it to be," said Sarah Baumgardner, unlocking a large white door to an unassuming brick building.

You could say that for any part of history hidden in plain sight.
Which, in this case, is a massive, historic steam pump at the Crystal Spring water treatment plant.

"People drive by here all the time and have no idea that this piece of history from the early 1900s is here much less open for tours during the summer," said Baumgardner, spokesperson for the Western Virginia Water Authority.

That surprise is why the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation got involved.

Trustee Allison Blanton said as part of Preservation Month the foundation. along with the Colonial Dames, are bringing history to the streets - or at least as close as they could get.

They're unveiling a new informative plaque outside the steam pump site later this week, hoping to draw people in to a place where we've been drawing from the spring for centuries.

"What we're doing is trying to take history and preservation and get the information out there and try to reach people in new ways," Blanton said.

Baumgarder agrees, saying it's important to show people how people got their water in the past and how it's different today.

"I think it makes a connection to your community and I think that's really important," she said.

The foundation is planning pub crawls, trivia nights, bike rides, and volunteer opportunities to connect people with their history - and it's potential to improve our quality of life.

"It's all the cumulative history I think really helps to give a very specific sense of place that we can feel a little bit more connected to," Blanton said.

Details on Preservation month in the Roanoke Valley can be found on the Roanoke Valley