About The Center


The Discovery Center engages visitors with fun, hands-on activities drawn from the rich exhibits of manufacturing and industrial development here in the Alleghany Highlands.  Bringing to life the science and history behind these advances is a starting point to discover how raw materials were converted into new products, the ingenuity that made technological advances possible and spur the excitement to try new things and explore how our past connects to the present and future.


The Center is located at 227 N. Maple Ave., in Covington. This building housed a number of businesses in four separate storefronts during its 120-year existence. It was built in 1899 with additions in 1909 and 1916 by the Nettleton Company. Prior to its acquisition by the Alleghany Historical Society in 2016, it was owned by Rooklin Real Estate.


The primary objective of The Discovery Center is to support increased knowledge of the industrial heritage of the Highlands for all who visit the Center. It will stimulate the interest and imagination of active learners engaging in amusing and fascinating experiments. There will also be space for research and development. A secondary objective is the significant impact it will have on the economic revitalization of the Covington Downtown Historic District. Citizens, school groups, organizations, businesses, and local governments will prosper from the project because of visitors from throughout the Alleghany  Highlands and beyond.


The 17,000 sq. ft. space in the Nettleton-Rooklin Building is in the final stage of remodeling. Exhibit development volunteers are creating the displays and activities which will attract visitors. With financial and volunteer support from you and others, The Discovery Center will open in 2021.


With financial support from The Alleghany Foundation, Rooklin Real Estate, The Nettleton Foundation, WestRock, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and numerous corporate and individual donors, the building renovations are near completion. Donations of materials, equipment, documents, photographs and artifacts have provided more than enough display items. Initial Capital Campaign Contributions, grants and A COMMITMENT OF ANNUAL SUPPORT AND MEMBERSHIPS FROM YOU AND OTHER DONORS WILL ALLOW US TO COMPLETE THE FINAL STAGE OF THIS PROJECT AND PROVIDE FOR THE ANNUAL OPERATIONAL COSTS NECESSARY.


For the local population, the Center will provide another destination for daily life. It will complement existing attractions which include the Jackson River Sports Complex, the restored Covington C&O Depot, Covington’s Main Street Park, the Jackson River Scenic Trail, Humpback Bridge, Falling Spring falls, Lake Moomaw, Douthat State Park, the Historic Masonic Theatre, the C&O Railway Heritage Center, the Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center, the Clifton Forge School of the Arts, and the many other historic structures, parks, trails and scenic views in the area. Businesses and services can expect to benefit from increased activity and the need to provide goods, food, housing and entertainment. Local and state governments can expect to see increased tax revenues.


We believe that with a strong and optimistic community effort of financial support and enthusiasm from you and others here in the Highlands, this wonderful interactive museum can bring about the reality of an even brighter future for everyone. IMAGINE!! We all feel pride in telling the world that we are from Covington, Clifton Forge, Iron Gate or anywhere else in Alleghany Highlands.