Renovations continue at Roland E. Cook with eye on June opening

An opening for a door is being cut through the two-foot wall on the ground level for a patio apartment.
The towering ceilings on the third floor of the former Roland E. Cook building accommodate lofts on that level.
The original chalkboards, wood trim and baseboards have been preserved for use in the building. Each unit will have a section of the slate board installed. Doug Forbes will be one of the Roland E. Cook Lofts tenants.
The newly installed windows are not only enormous and beautiful, but energy efficient.

Renovations are continuing at the former Roland E. Cook Elementary School in Vinton, transforming the historic site into the Roland E. Cook Lofts— a project undertaken by Old School Partners, LLC.

The school is being renovated “top to bottom” into 21 modern, upscale apartments. Opening is planned for early summer.

As for the progress being made in the renovations, the elevator is in. Wood trim and baseboards are being painstakingly refinished for use in the building. The original chalkboards have been preserved; each unit will have a section of the original slate mounted on the walls.

Perhaps the most striking aspects of the renovated building are the panoramic views, especially on the second and third floors through the enormous windows. Distant Parkway Wesleyan and downtown Roanoke, as well as the new Vinton Library and the former William Byrd High School on the hill, are visible.

The walls in the building are two feet thick; the doorways to former classrooms are over three feet wide. Arched doorways in individual classrooms have been preserved as part of the design. The beautiful auditorium/gym has been maintained for use as a community room.

“I’m so glad they were able to preserve a lot of the original architecture,” commented Jenny Plasters Saunders. “I always thought my school was so beautiful.”

As much of the original building as possible has been preserved to meet the Virginia Department of Historic Resources requirements for the site to be placed on the Virginia Landmarks Registry, and also on the National Park Service National Registry of Historic Places. This allows the developers to receive historic tax credits, which make the preservations, restoration, and rehabilitation of historic buildings economically feasible.

“By transforming the former classrooms and common spaces of Roland E. Cook into apartments, we have been able to restore a beloved Vinton landmark while giving it new use for the new century,” the developers state on their website. “We’ve worked hard to maintain and preserve the historical character and features of the building, such as the original hardwood floors and towering ceilings, while still employing modern design and thoughtful craftsmanship throughout the new apartments.”

The first floor of the building at ground level features patio apartments. The third floor features lofts.

All apartments and lofts have fully equipped kitchens with stainless steel appliances, and a washer/dryer combination.  Each unit also has its own individual HVAC unit for heating and cooling.

One third of the units have already been rented. More information, including rental rates for 12-month leases, is available at, by emailing or by calling leasing agent Seth Wilkinson at 540-293-8571.

Deana Pinion McGhee said, “I cannot wait to see the finished product. I started my Roanoke County teaching career at this beautiful old school. I’m glad it’s being repurposed in such a cool way.”

“I am so excited about all of the projects in our district and the county,” said Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Jason Peters. “After several years of hard work, I believe we have turned the corner to some huge successes in the near future.”

Recent photographs of the renovations are available on The Vinton Messenger Facebook page.

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