**We would like to thank Drs. Kevin and Nancy Dye for allowing us to visit their home and for the opportunity to share the Rockledge story.**
Did you know that Roanoke, Virginia is the only city in the United States that has a mountain directly in its center? Can you guess what mountain we are talking about? If you live in the area, you already know we are talking about Mill Mountain! Mill Mountain is a very important part of our community, but do you know the history behind this Roanoke landmark?
In 1920, Mill Mountain was purchased by William Henritze, an avid photographer. Does his last name sound familiar? That’s right! William Henritze was actually Dr. Henritze’s grandfather’s first cousin!
Back then, the only way up the mountain was by railroad. William Henritze wanted more people to be able to enjoy Mill Mountain, so he paved a road that went all the way to the top. People were thrilled to be able to make the drive up the mountain. Henritze charged 25 cents a car and 12.5 cents per passenger. The tollbooth remains on the mountain to this day. Here’s a fun fact: the toll keeper actually lived in the tollbooth! People from all over would travel to Roanoke–also known as The Magic City–just to say they made the trip to the top of Mill Mountain.
Have you ever noticed the house on the side of the mountain? If you live in the area, you’ve probably seen it among the greenery. The house, known as Rockledge Mansion, has overlooked the Roanoke Valley for almost 90 years! The mansion was built in 1929 by William and his brother, John.
The Mansion, which got its name from the rock ledge located in front of the house, sits right on the edge of the mountain. You are able to see the entire Roanoke Valley just by walking out of the front door! Needless to say, the view (and the house) is absolutely breathtaking- and if you’re afraid of heights, a bit terrifying as well. “It’s hard to believe he had the vision to build a house there,” Dr. Henritze said.
The outside of the home is made of beautiful stone with a stunning rock wall behind it. The house is just as magnificent on the inside as on the outside. From the grand staircase to the multiple fireplaces and elegant decor, the details paired with the stunning architecture make this home truly unique.
Walking into the house is like traveling back in time. The current owners, Drs. Kevin and Nancy Dye, who bought the house in 2005, have done a great job of preserving the history of the home. Some of the artwork in the home today has been there since the home was built. The house even has an original call box – an old-fashioned telephone system that allows people in different parts of the house to communicate with each other.
Rockledge Mansion is not the only landmark on Mill Mountain. The Mill Mountain Star and Zoo are both well-known attractions. “Every time our cousins came to visit, we would always do three things: see the star, go to the zoo, and visit lakeside amusement park,” Dr. Henritze recalled. When he and his family would go on trips, they would keep an eye out for the star on their way back. “When we saw the star, we knew we were home,” he said.
The Rockledge Inn, also located on the mountain, was a hotel that once welcomed travelers from all over the country. While some came to see the mountain, we’re convinced some made the trip just to enjoy the chicken and waffles, which was the hotel’s specialty (yum!)
Mill Mountain and Rockledge are a crucial part of Dr. Henritze’s family legacy in Roanoke. Next time you’re in our office, feel free to ask Dr. Henritze about the house on the mountain.