Friends of Washington Park working to preserve Roanoke’s Black history

ROANOKE, Va. – A house with ties to Black history is at risk of being destroyed in Roanoke.

Roanoke residents like Cathy Carter, Gregory Hunt, and others came together to form the group, Friends of Washington Park, to take a stand.

“This is Black history. This is Roanoke history and we want to preserve it,” said Carter.

The group’s goal is to urge city leaders to rethink their decision to demolish the Evans House, also known as the Caretaker’s House, located in Roanoke.

The Evans House was dedicated to the Black community for recreational use during segregation in the 1900s.

“This particular landmark is one of the last and the few that are still here. And by preserving this building you are also going to preserve historical facts,” said Hunt.

The city said the decision the idea to demolish the house was so they could rebuild the Washington Park pool.

The pool, demolished in 2021, cannot be rebuilt in its former spot after a landfill was found underneath it.

Carter hopes the city will be able to find a compromise by preserving the Evans House and rebuilding the pool.

“We are calling on the city of Roanoke to offer a compromise to keep both. Both are very important to this community and we deserve both infrastructures,” said Carter.

Roanoke Parks and Rec released a statement to 10 News regarding the status of the pool and demolition of the Evans House.

“We are currently in the contracting phase of pool design and development for Washington Park. As directed by City Council, we’ve halted demolition of the house while design of the pool progresses to the point of determining whether or not the design necessitates removal of the house. In the meantime, the house has been rewrapped to protect the exposed areas from the weather and further degradation. Once our negotiations are complete with the vendor and we have a set design for the pool, we’ll have a better sense of a timeline and next steps for the park as a whole.”

Michael Clark, Director of Roanoke Parks and Rec

Roanoke City Council originally approved plans to demolish Evans House and rebuild the pool in its place in May but put a pause on the project in August.

Friends of Washington Park plan to host a press conference on Wednesday to spread awareness of their cause.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.