This morning Holton Plaza in downtown Roanoke was opened to the public. Built in honor of former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, the new plaza is located at 106 Franklin Rd., S.E. U.S. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Holton’s son-in-law, along with members of City Council, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
With lighting and blooming trees, the plaza was designed to enhance the pedestrian corridor between Elmwood Park and Market Square. Holton Plaza features seat walls that are engraved with notable quotes from Holton’s inaugural address. Plaques that detail his career and life are mounted on a pedestal at the plaza’s main entrance.
About Gov. Holton
Holton was born on Sept. 21, 1923 in Big Stone Gap, Va. After graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1944, he trained in the Navy during WWII. Holton graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949 and settled in Roanoke. After practicing law in Roanoke for twenty years, Holton was the first Republican to be elected Governor of Virginia in 100 years. He was elected on Nov. 4, 1969, and served as Governor until his term ended in 1974.
His tenure as Governor is most known for his actions during the federal-court-ordered desegregation of the Richmond City Schools. In support of the desegregation order, Holton escorted his daughter Tayloe into the formerly all-black John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond. Other accomplishments as Governor included appointing more African Americans and women to high office in state government than any of his predecessors, reorganizing the executive branch of Virginia government by creating a gubernatorial cabinet, and serving as the chief promoter of the Virginia is for Lovers advertising campaign.
“Let our goal in Virginia be an aristocracy of ability, regardless of race, color, or creed” – Gov. Holton
After finishing his term as Governor, Holton served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, chaired the governing council of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, and served on the board of Amtrak. The University of Virginia press published Governor Holton’s memoir in March 2008. Its title, Opportunity Time, references the wake-up call that he gave his children every morning: “It’s opportunity time.”
Holton was born on Sept. 21, 1923 in Big Stone Gap, Va. After graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1944, he trained in the Navy during WWII. Holton later graduated from Harvard Law School and settled in Roanoke. He married Virginia Harrison Rogers, a Roanoke native, on Jan. 10, 1953, and they have four children: Tayloe, Anne, Woody, and Dwight. Holton and his wife are now enjoying retirement.