Monday, May 10, 2010

Old Photo Finisher Downtown Coming Down

The DLC building from its First Street side.^

Greene Memorial in the background of the distinctive movie marquee.^

The gutting of the interior is underway.^

The former Downtown Learning Center, which is owned by and sits next door to the Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Roanoke, is coming down. Today.

Reports are that it will become a parking lot for Greene Memorial.

The street in front of the center will be closed through Thursday so E. Luke Greene Company can complete the destruction of the building, according to a City of Roanoke press release.

The historic 74-year-old building, occupied by a photo finisher for many years, was being gutted and the walls knocked out at mid-day today. It had most recently been the home of a child care center, which was moved to the Jefferson Center, another historic downtown facility.

The child care center was actually moved in next door to the offices of Valley Business FRONT and I get to hear kids screaming like somebody has poured acid on them all day as I work. You should try it.

The building had come under some serious disrepair of late, including pipes that had been corroded over the years by film processing chemistry and additional problems with storm water flooding. For many years, the building housed Roanoke Photo Finishing (popularly known as RoPho).

It was on the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation’s 2009 list of Endangered Sites and Buildings, which proved prophetic. (I am on the board of the RVPF.)

Green Memorial owns the building, which sits at the corner of Luck Avenue and Second Street Southwest. It was built in 1936.


  1. Sad, but that's progress, I guess.

  2. Actually, I think it was the home of Roanoke Photo Finishing Company, a film developer and camera and lens store for many years. (that is looking back to the 1950's at least). That business was owned by the Swartz family that also operated a resturant supply business on luck Ave near 6th street. I would be very surprised if that building was ever a theater.

  3. Had the pleasure to work as a "color printer" at Roanoke Photo Finishing in 1971-1972. The photo lab was upstairs and the camera shop on first floor. I loved every single minute of working there. There were a lot of ladies and a couple of gentlemen who worked there since they were teenagers. They used to show me old photos of themselves actually getting ready for dates when they were in their teens and worked there. There was the "black & white department" where only B & W film was developed. I worked as a "color printer"...we each (four of us) had printers we had to load in complete darkness with huge rolls of Kodak paper. We judged each and every negative for light exposure and color corrections were done on corrections in the afternoon. On Fridays the "ladies" took me with them to Miller&Rhoades Tea Room or to the 4 Parrots and we dressed up for lunch. It made me cry when my husband showed me today's paper.

  4. Anon II: That's a nice story. Thank you for sharing it.