Restoration plans move forward for nearly-200-year-old Roanoke house

City Council agrees to sell Villa Heights house to nonprofit

ROANOKE, Va. – An area nonprofit has taken the first step toward restoring a historic house in northwest Roanoke.

The City Council approved the sale of a Villa Heights house called the Compton-Bateman House.

The house was built in 1820 and has ties to a colonel who fought in the War of 1812. The group Restoration Housing wants to make repairs and see the house used to serve the community.

The city has owned the house since the 1950s. It's been unused since 2007 when the city ended an after-school program there. In 2011, a fire damaged the rear of the building.

"It's outfitted and already ready to be this great resource for the community," said Isabel Thornton, the nonprofit's president.

She's talking to the Boys and Girls Club right now about potentially renting it. She thinks this can have a positive effect on the community.

"Just by reducing blight and vacancy alone we'll see outcomes in reduction of crime and vandalism around the neighborhood, increase in property values," she said.

The nonprofit is beginning fundraising efforts and will need tax credits and grants to complete the project, which is expected to cost more than $800,000. The city is also giving insurance money from the fire to the group.

Thornton says, if all goes according to plan, construction could begin next summer.

The house has ties to Col. Elijah McClanahan, who fought in the War of 1812. Many people in the area have called the house the anchor of the Villa Heights neighborhood.