Former factory site is featured on Tri Kappa Housewalk

Alice Eshelman stands in the locker rooms located near the workout facility in the former coil factory in Roanoke. The building is one of five stops on the Tri Kappa Housewalk, to be held Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14. Photo provided.

The large brick building at the edge of Roanoke's downtown was once deemed vital to the country's success in World War II.

Now home to several small businesses - and the future home of the Roanoke Public Library - the reborn building popularly known as "the coil factory" will be open to visitors during the Tri Kappa Housewalk on Sunday, Oct. 14.

The building, currently owned by brothers Pete and Tim Eshelman, dates from the early 1900s, when it was part of the Wasmuth family's hardware and agricultural implement business. By the 1930s, it was empty.

Fort Wayne Coils moved in to the building in 1936. Under the name Coil Engineering and Manufacturing Company, the business made electrical coils and ignitions for motors.

More than 400 people worked there during World War II and the War Department, calling the manufacturing facility an essential part of America's war efforts, ordered greater security there. Rumors persist that the factory was on Hitler's hit list, says Alice Eshelman, who is overseeing the building's rebirth.
Coil Engineering and Manufacturing later became the Square D Coil Factory.

In 1967, the building became home to the Pik.A.Nut Corporation, manufacturing a storage system developed for auto mechanics by the late Huntington resident Paul Hunckler.

Steve Cadwallader owned the building from 1986 to 2000, using it as a home for his company, Nelson Machining and Fabricating until relocating to Huntington.

The Eshelmans purchased the building in 2001 for use initially as a storage facility, with plans to eventually develop it as office and retail space.

The offices and retail outlets that have since moved in will be on display to housewalk visitors. Tall ceilings and brightly painted ceiling pipes, obvious remnants of the building's manufacturing past, remain as business owners renovate their spaces.

The tour begins in the light-filled Crestwoods Frame Shop and Gallery, where Ann and Wayne Shive have created a New York gallery feel. The gallery regularly offers shows featuring local and regional artists, and a newly opened show will be on display during the housewalk.

The new home of the Roanoke Public Library, which is still under construction, is also located on the building's first floor.

Several other small businesses and some undeveloped space complete the first floor.

Reusser Design, a web development and design company owned by Nate and Julie Reusser, is the anchor tenant on the second floor. The high-tech business features a break room for creative thinking.

The call center for One Resource Group, headed by Andrea Baumer, is also on the second floor.

Several spaces on the second floor designed to be shared by the building's tenants include a board room, break room, a whimsically decorated locker room and restroom and a workout facility. Employees of the businesses have access to the workout machines and classes supervised by Valerie Powers, proprietor of Powers of One.

The coil factory is located at 314 N. Main St, in downtown Roanoke. It is one of five sites included on the Tri Kappa Housewalk.

Other stops on the housewalk are the home of Donna Hedrick, 3755 W. Division Rd., Huntington; the home of Shawn and Michelle Haupert, 5659N-900W, Andrews; the home of Mike and Stacy Haggerty, 8663S-200E, Warren; and the home of Bob and Abbey Bolen, 2834N-300E, Huntington

All five locations will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 14.

Advance tickets are available at a discounted price at Dorothy's Hallmark, in Huntington, or by calling 358-6190 or 356-8804. Full-price tickets may be purchased the day of the housewalk at any of the five locations.