Like too many towns in Virginia’s economically-ravaged Southside, Danville’s downtown is largely a ghost town, dominated by empty buildings and remnants of past glories.

On a recent motorcycle ride to North Carolina, I rode through Danville and stopped to walk around the mostly-deserted downtown. It was a far cry from the Danville I remembered as a young man visiting the city more than 40 years ago.

The once proud Hotel Danville on Main Street is closed and empty while attached the Danville House apartments is now moderate and low-income housing.

A gutted, burned out building on Main Street has a “For Sale by Owner” sign. Graffiti and broken windows lie behind broken railings of a downtown motel while a sign promises a new development on the old Masonic Building, the tallest structure in downtown.

You know a downtown is in trouble when the Masons leave.

On the downtown Danville web site, the latest item listed on the events page was in March.

Down on the Dan River, the once-proud structures of Dan River Mills decay away. The textile industry that fueled the city’s economy is gone — relocated overseas with other industries that once provided jobs and the good life for residents of Southside.

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