Botetourt County Historical Society


Black and white image of museum

Since opening it's doors officially for the first time at 1 PM on Sunday, November 27, 1966, the Botetourt County Historical Museum has served as a repository for hundreds of artifacts that have helped to interpret the history of Botetourt County for thousands of visitors. Located directly behind the historic Botetourt County Courthouse, the museum is housed in a building that dates back to the late eighteenth century. Starting out as a one room law office in 1791, the building has seen many additions and deletions over the years, having become a part of the Western Hotel in the 1850s and having been used as apartments by Dodd and Dodd beginning in the 1930s (current board member Katherine Harris lived in the building as a child). Botetourt County acquired the building in 1961 and has allowed The Botetourt County Historical Society to utilize the structure for over 37 years to operate its historical museum. The Botetourt County Historical Society, with the assistance and financial support of the Roanoke Historical Society, was organized in 1966.
A committee was formed and three county residents, Dr. J.C. Zillhardt, Mrs. Garland Hopkins, and Mr. Robert Douthat Stoner, assumed leadership in the formation of a museum. Over the years the historical society has operated the museum, filling it with historical items that were loaned or donated. The museum was open on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mr. Rollin Smith serving as the first curator and DAR members serving as hostesses. Many volunteers worked hard over the years to keep the museum and historical society active. Even during the period when the society became somewhat inactive, President Joe Buhrman held things together. In May 1983, Mr. Garland Stevens succeeded Mr. Rollin Smith Map of Botetourt as volunteer curator. Mr. Stevens continued to serve the museum over the years as a dedicated volunteer, opening the museum each Sunday as long as he was physically able to do so, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the historical society at the time of his death in January 2004. In 1991, a group of interested citizens met and, with the encouragement of President Joe Buhrman, “reorganized” the historical society. Officers and board members were elected. Emily Honts became president of the historical society in the summer of 1991; and on August 22, 1991, President Emily Honts and 14 directors met and identified goals and future projects. Since 1991 a number of projects have been completed. These include replacing the floors of the main gallery, repairing and painting the walls, installing year round climate control (with matching funds from the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors), track lighting, adding glass display cases, cleaning and rearranging a collection that has increased to over 800 artifacts (from the original 175 when the museum opened), new labeling of the collection, enclosing the first and second floor porches and exterior staircase (increasing the size of the museum to its current 8 galleries), establishing a museum store, creating a quarterly newsletter, increasing operating days and hours so that the museum is open daily, creating an endowment fund, creating an educational guide for students, reprinting Fulwiler’s Gateway to the Southwest (a history of the Buchanan area), adding a new front porch and front doors, developing a picture album of the collection (to enable handicapped visitors to enjoy the collection), and restoring of many of the artifacts. Under the leadership of President John Rader, Jr. who succeeded Emily Honts as president in 1998, the Board of Directors, 5 paid docents, members and volunteers continue to welcome thousands of visitors to our museum (estimated at approximately 2000 visitors in 2003). The Board of Directors looks forward to many new projects and activities in the future.