Renovations on Crystal Tower in Roanoke Reveals History

Roanoke, VA - Crews renovating Roanoke's Crystal Tower have uncovered history connecting the building to its original use as the Ponce de Leon Hotel.

For years, developer Faisel Khan would drive by the old hotel and dream about the things he could with the building.

"I would drive down Campbell Avenue and marvel at the street presence the building had. The long row of retail me what really stuck out was the art deco architecture," said Khan.

And while Khan knew he would find less obvious history in all forms and fashion during renovations, he had no idea just how much history he would find.

"It wasn't until we got into the exploratory demo that we really started discovering the historic fabric that has been untouched for 40 years," said Khan.

Discoveries that are literally shaping the way Khan is approaching this multi-million dollar renovation.

Beneath the years of changes Khan has found mosaics, crown molding and parts of the original marquee... all of which will be returned to its 1930's look.

"What you'll see over the next 12 months as we move forward with construction is us recreating that. So there will be a recessed front entrance vestibule. We plan on putting a marquee back on the front facade and restore all the primary facade back to original materials," said Khan.

As will the one thing that almost everyone talks about when discussing the old hotel, and that's Big Lick Spring which runs beneath the building.

Years ago it fed this pool which used to keep fresh trout for the hotel's restaurant.

"I hope to incorporate it in a creative way so that we actually harness and use that spring water either for the fountain in the lobby or for a commercial space. So we'll see," said Khan.

Khan will also revert the building's name back to Ponce de Leon as another tip of the hat to the history of this site.

A site that was literally the center of downtown when Roanoke was known as Big Lick. The renovated mixed use building is expected to open on time next August.