DANVILLE, Va., Nov. 1, 2011 – Lord William Astor, the grandson of Danville native Lady Nancy Astor, visited the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Oct. 27 to learn more about the research and production of the Lady Astor Rose.
Astor travelled from England with his daughter, sister, and cousin. The Astors, along with other descendants including members of the Langhorne, Witcher and Keen families, toured the institute’s labs, greenhouse, and Dan River Plant Propagation Center.
“We were very grateful for the opportunity to see the research. It’s fantastic,” says Astor.
Lord Astor also attended a ceremony at Danville City Hall and a dinner in his honor at Averett University.
Nancy Witcher Langhorne was born in Danville in 1879, and went on to become Lady Astor, the first woman to serve in the British Parliament. She returned to visit Danville in 1922, and distributed roses to local school children. Danville adopted the Lady Astor Rose Oct. 18 as the city’s official flower.
Langhorne House is dedicated to preserving Lady Astor’s memory, and is partnering with the institute and Growing Virginia to preserve the Lady Astor Rose as well. The Institute of Sustainable and Renewable Resources is cloning the rose, and will provide two hundred of the plants free of charge to Danville for planting near public buildings, parks, and roads. The institute’s Dan River Plant Propagation Center will then market the rose to the public in 2012.
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research was created in 2002 with funds from the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Its programs include research and education in mechanical engineering, bio-inspired technology, and sustainable and renewable resources. Several Virginia Tech faculty members, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers are currently doing their work at the institute. The Institute aims to attract technology and talent to enable economic and community transformation in Southern Virginia. Its campus is located in Danville, Va.