Since its inception in 1983, Center in the Square has been the major catalyst for development and renewal in downtown Roanoke, VA. Once a feed and seed warehouse, the restored 7-story cultural and educational facility now houses four museums and a theater: the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, History Museum of Western Roanoke, Roanoke Pinball Museum, the Science Museum of Western VA, and the Mill Mountain Theater. Center in the Square provides housing for arts and science organizations free of charge and offers marketing and other support services to tenants, assuring the stability and viability of their programming. With a variety of arts, science, and entertainment opportunities, it is an invaluable cultural and educational resource for Roanoke residents and visitors. It’s variety of exhibits make Center in the Square a destination for field trips by Western VA schools, and the popular rooftop garden offers views of Roanoke’s growing downtown.
The historic building underwent major restoration in 2010, after nearly 30 years of use. Rousing both public and private support, the sponsor raised funds for renovations which included infrastructural improvements as well as new attractions like a butterfly garden, aquariums, and a coral lab. Over 350 new businesses have opened in the area since Center in the Square was established, and its success has inspired over $850MM in construction and renovation projects in the immediate market area, including The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, the Norfolk Southern building, Wachovia Tower, Jefferson Center, and the Higher Education Center. The historic renovation was funded through several sources including equity from New Market Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, the City of Roanoke, a State Enterprise Zone grant, and sponsor fundraising.