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Friends of Washington Park exchange tales and future plans for the Roanoke Caretaker’s Cottage



Roanoke, Virginia – Since the 1900s, the caretaker’s home has stood in Roanoke’s Washington Park. And now, a certain group is acting to preserve this chapter of African American history. Additionally, a former resident of the cottage discusses the significance of keeping it for himself and other residents of Star City.

Steven Stewart’s heart aches when he drives by the location he once called home.

“And I saw the house, and it hurt, I’m hoping they can make the building structurally sound, so it doesn’t collapse,” Steven Stewart, one of the caretaker’s sons said.

Stewart has high hopes for the caretaker’s cottage located in Washington Park in Roanoke. Since the 1900s, the cottage has been a part of Black history, and supporters are working to preserve it.
Although the cottage was well-known for housing black families who looked after Washington Park, it meant much more to some.

“The role the caretaker played, not only in taking care of the park itself, but serving as a mentor to the youth of the community. So, we really think this is important,” Alison Blanton, with the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation said.
Stewart, a park attendant’s son, described some of his previous responsibilities.

“Change out the bags, put a fresh bag in, wash and clean the sink, make sure it had soap and a towel to wipe your hands,” Stewart said.

The friends of Washington Park have submitted for a $40,000 Certified Local Government grant via the Department of historic resources to preserve the piece of history. The city of Roanoke will match the money, providing them with an additional $80,000 to assist in stabilizing the facility.

“It will initially designate the caretaker’s cottage as a historic place and that is something that we are very proud of. So, we are well on our way,” Cathy Carter, President of Friends of Washington Park.

According to the Friends of Washington Park, they should know more about the grant by the end of May.

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