Grandin Road was my first neighborhood when I moved to Roanoke in 1965. Had a one-bedroom furnished flat at Grandin Road Apartments, attended the University of Virginia’s Roanoke Campus just up the street during the day and worked nights at The Roanoke Times, starting as a copy boy and moving up to reporter the following year.
Garland’s drug store anchored one side of the street and the Grandin Theater the other. A large hardware store served residents along with a cleaners and a TV/appliance store. We bought groceries at Mick or Mack and got our cars washed at the Grandin Car Wash.
I hadn’t been back on Grandin since returning to the area in 2004 so I parked along the street on Wednesday night and took a walk. The Mick or Mack and Grandin Theater remain today but the street is now dominated by restaurants, coffee stops, a whole food store and some trendy boutiques. Took in Gonzo, the documentary about Hunter S. Thompson, at the Grandin. The theater is now subdivided into several screens but is still cozy The popcorn was better in the 60s.
UVa’s Roanoke campus closed in 1966 and many of the faculty moved over to the new Virginia Western Community College on Colonial Avenue. I moved to The Jefferson Apartments next to Elmwood Park near downtown. The Victorian apartment building was torn down a few years after I left The Roanoke Times and moved on to a newspaper in Illinois. A sign for Carrillion Hospital now sits on the site.
Jefferson Street never felt like a real neighboord. Grandin Road did. It was nice to visit the old neghborhood.