The Roanoke Higher Education Center

108 North Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016

Our main building is located in the former headquarters of the Norfolk and Western Railroad in the heart of downtown Roanoke. A total of $19 million in state, local, and private funding, as well as federal and state historic tax credits, were used to transform the 1931 Art Deco building into a state-of-the-art facility for learning.

It supports a mix of traditional classroom instruction, computer-assisted instruction, and distance learning instruction to meet a wide variety of student learning styles and needs. Classrooms, meeting rooms, and spaces also accommodate business gatherings, and are publicly available for rent.

Building Amenities

Clinical Simulation Lab

108 North Jefferson Street
Suite 104A
Roanoke, VA 24016

The Clinical Simulation Lab in the Center’s main building gives nursing students a place to study hands-on clinical practices in a realistic environment. The lab trains students to interact with patients using electronically controlled mannequins as well as actors performing scripted scenarios. Technology allows educators to participate in the room or remotely, so that students get clinical training experiences both on their own and in a collaborative setting.

Claude Moore Education Complex

109 North Henry Street
Roanoke, VA 24016

Just across from the main building, the Claude Moore Education Complex opened in 2007 to house Virginia Western Community College’s culinary arts degree program. It houses a teaching kitchen stocked with standard professional-grade equipment. The renovation of the building was awarded LEED Gold-certified status for its environmentally conscious design features, including a plant-covered green roof, solar-heated water, a rainwater harvesting system, and a 35% reduction in energy consumption compared to similar-sized buildings. The building was expanded in 2018 to accommodate the growing culinary arts program, winning an award of merit in contextual design by AIA Virginia in 2019.

Building History

The Complex is housed in downtown Roanoke’s old Ebony Club, which was built circa 1920 as the Strand Theater. It was there, in the early- to mid-1920s, that one of the first African-American filmmakers, Oscar Micheaux, had an office for his production company, the Oscar Micheaux Film Corporation. After producing several films in Roanoke, Micheaux moved to New York to continue producing, and the Strand Theater took the name “The Lincoln Theater.” The theater eventually became the Morocco Club and the Ebony Club, which were African-American dance clubs serving the surrounding Gainsboro neighborhood. The building has also housed a doctor’s office, record shop, barbershop, and shoe shine business that historically served the surrounding African-American community.


Central Walkway Plaza

The Walkway expands the campus footprint by connecting the main building with the Claude Moore Education Complex, and provides green space, a brick walkway, wall seating, and an outdoor learning laboratory for culinary arts students.

The RHEC campus is located within the historic Gainsboro neighborhood of Roanoke, which was once a thriving business and entertainment district for African Americans. A significant feature of the Central Walkway honors this rich legacy. Historical themes and events from 1835 to 1970 have been engraved into granite markers in the walkway.

The Gainsboro History Project

Complementing the markers is The Gainsboro History Project, an interactive mobile app and walking tour highlighting African American influence in the Gainsboro neighborhood. Utilizing text, graphics, and video, the app provides stories reflecting the contributions of the people who lived and worked in Gainsboro.