Homes Tour Takes to the Country

The Greenbrier Historical Society’s biennial Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour has been expanded this year and is featuring homes in the countryside of the Greenbrier Valley as well as the Town of Ronceverte.

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Being held on June 7, 8, and 9, 2013, the event will open with a gala held at the historic James Jarrett House at Fairhill.  From 5-7 p.m. guests will be able to tour the house by candlelight, observe a display and demonstration of historic carriages by Raymond and Lynn Tuckwiller, and enjoy refreshments, including wine provided by Watt’s Roost Vineyards, down by the pond and waterfall.  Advance tickets will be needed for the gala and are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, or the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg.

FAIRHILL

                       FAIRHILL

On Saturday, June 8, the more traditional homes tour will include Spring Valley Farm—Page Dickson; The Montgomery Cabin—Herbert and Katy Montgomery; Maple Hill—James Jeter; The Cedars—Pamela Bergren and Border Crow; and the James Jarrett House at Fairhill—Margaret and David Hambrick.  The Second Creek Mill and broom factory will also be open for exploration and the purchase of local products.  Most of these properties are on working farms and located on one lane country roads so care should be taken while driving and visiting.  Tickets will be available at each location as well as the North House.

Spring Valley Farm

                Spring Valley Farm

Maple Hill

                             Maple Hill

A CD providing history of the area will be available as an addition to the tour on Saturday.  Compiled from information in the Greenbrier Historical Society Archives by Kyle Mills, Americorps worker, and narrated by volunteer Lanny Howe, the various tracts will provide a historical setting for the areas through which visitors will pass on their way to the homes.  The CD will describe two loops—the Blue Sulphur Loop and the Second Creek Loop—and is arranged to begin in the parking lot of the Greenbrier Historical Society/North House Museum.  It will be available where tickets are sold.

On Sunday afternoon, the Homes Tour will feature the Town of Ronceverte.  Tickets, available in advance or at Edgarton, where tours are available and lemonade and cookies will be served, will provide admission to the sanctuaries of 3 historic churches as well as a self-guided walking tour of the town.  Visitors will be invited into the newly restored businesses to see how historic preservation can be economically viable as well.

Margaret Hambrick, President of the Board of Directors of the Greenbrier Historical Society, said, “There are interesting, historic, and elegant homes, churches, and businesses throughout the Greenbrier Valley and we are so pleased to be able to share these.  We are grateful to the owners and volunteers who are making this homes tour possible.”

For more information, contact the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304.645.3398 or info@greenbrierhistorical.org or Like us on Facebook!

100 Years of History in Rainelle, West Virginia

The Greenbrier Historical Society would like to congratulate the Town of Rainelle on this historic milestone! Centennial events are planned for Thursday April 25, 2013 thru Saturday April 27, 2013 in Rainelle, West Virginia. 

THE BIRTH OF A COMMUNITY
On early maps, Rainelle is called the Sewell Valley, named for the first settler, Stephen Sewell, who was killed by Native Americans in the mid-1700s. The area was once a buffalo migration trail. Until the twentieth century, the Sewell Valley contained few farms and businesses. It was not until 1790 that the first grist mill was built by James Coggin along the Little Clear Creek. William McFarland built the first saw mill in 1848 on land later owned by the Meadow River Lumber Company.

The James River and Kanawha Turnpike was established in 1827 with a weekly stage line between Lewisburg and Charleston, West Virginia. Soon the trips were increased to three times per week and then daily.  A few taverns and stage coach stops grew up in the Grassy Meadows district. By 1850, traffic on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike slowed as changes in transportation affected the stage coach lines. The turnpike was almost quiet at the outbreak of the Civil War when troops, both Union and Confederate, began marching through the Greenbrier Valley.

The Raine Brothers

The Raine Brothers

In 1906, brothers John and Thomas Raine formed the Meadow River Lumber Company and purchased 32,000 acres on the Meadow River in Greenbrier County for $960,000. The Sewell Valley Railroad was established in 1907 to connect the Meadow River Lumber Company mill site to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad 19 miles away at Meadow Creek. Once the difficult landscape could be crossed easily via railroad, laborers were brought in to begin construction on a steam-powered triple-band mill.  The first log was sawed on September 10, 1910 at 5:00pm, and in the mill’s initial year, 3 million feet of lumber were produced. Meadow River Lumber Company remained in continuous operation for the next 14 years.

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With approximately 150 employees needed for full production, construction soon began on houses and living quarters to entice young men and families to move to the area. By 1912, four rows of houses extended from the main street (US Route 60) for individual families and a large boarding house was built. John Raine built a large home and moved his own family to Rainelle in 1913. The Bank of Rainelle was formed in 1911 to serve the community with 88% of stock owned by the Meadow River Lumber Company. The first store was a small commissary operated by the lumber company, but as early as 1927 the Meadow River Store was privately owned.

In February 1912, the community, with a population of 335 individuals, held an election to consider incorporation and a majority voted in favor. On April 25, 1913, a charter was issued to the town of Rainelle, named for the Raines brothers who remained active in both Meadow River and the community.  J.W. Gray, one-time president of the company, was elected the first mayor and John Raine became a councilman.

The First School in Rainelle

The First School in Rainelle

Rainelle High School

Rainelle High School

That same year, the first school building, a white frame structure, was built by the Meadow River Lumber Company near the center of town. It was used as both the grade school and “pay” high school until 1923 when a separate elementary school was completed and the district formed a public high school in the building. A new brick high school was built in 1947 and continued to be used after consolidation in 1968 as the Rainelle Elementary School. Another staple of the community, the Rainelle Methodist Church was dedicated on June 28, 1914. The wood used for its construction came entirely from the Meadow River Lumber Company.

A BOOMING BUSINESS
On August 28, 1924, a devastating fire began at the Meadow River Lumber Company.  As soon as the last embers were extinguished, clean-up and construction of a new mill began – it opened six short months later on March 9, 1925. Three years later, the company saw a record year for production with 2,900 acres of timber cut and 31,655,220 feet of lumber produced.Rainelle004

The Meadow River Lumber Company became known for their high quality hardwood floors, and even furnished the parquet flooring in the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. At the peak of production, 500 employees were needed for full production and approximately 1 million feet of finished flooring could be produced each month. In addition to flooring, Meadow River also produced interior trimming, furniture, and wooden coffins. In 1932, a shoe heel plant was established to fabricate wooden heels for women’s shoes. Between 5 million and 6 million pairs of heels were manufactured annually and shipped to shoe factories throughout the country.

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                           “Slab Town”

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             East Rainelle, West Virginia

As business continued to boom for the Meadow River Lumber Company in Rainelle, the community of East Rainelle was quickly becoming a commercial center for western Greenbrier County.  Located across the Big Sewell Creek from Rainelle, the community of East Rainelle began to form as early as 1910 when the Levelton Land and Improvement Company bought a tract of land and began selling lots for residential and commercial use with the hope that the town would be called Levelton. The first few houses in this area were sided with slabs from a portable sawmill and the community began to be known as “Slab Town.”

With no real industry aside from the mill, development was slow. On March 15, 1921, the town of East Rainelle was incorporated with a total population of 446 people and only a few businesses – including the Hughart Brothers Store, the J.F. Jones Store, and the F.E. Flint Store.

As smaller lines branched off of the Sewell Valley Railroad toward logging sites, private coal companies were developed in the areas surrounding Rainelle. In 1921, the Imperial Smokeless Coal Company in Quinwood shipped its first load of coal down the Greenbrier and Eastern Railroad and over the Sewell Valley Railroad to Meadow Creek.

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In 1923, the first movie theater built by Dick Raine and Howard Gray opened in Rainelle, a sign of increasing prosperity. With the introduction of “talkies” the theater declined to convert, and instead became the 34-Room Pioneer Hotel in 1929. The 500 seat auditorium was transformed into the hotel’s lobby, dining room and kitchen. The same year, a group of local individuals opened the Maple Oaks Hotel, but when the great depression hit the Maple Oaks was forced to close. It was purchased by Coleman Gore, a man from Virginia, who renamed it the King Coal Hotel around 1935. A large lump of coal was placed in front of the building and a golden crown set on top. Both the King Coal and the Pioneer Hotels were popular stops for salesman travelling from Charleston before Interstate 64 diverted traffic through Beckley.

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                  The Pioneer Hotel

The King Coal Hotel

                    The King Coal Hotel

By the 1960s, life in Rainelle was beginning to change. Meadow River Lumber Company’s production practices were out of date and the plant suffered from high production costs. In 1969, the plant was sold to Georgia-Pacific who closed the original mill and built a new one on the other side of town. The company-owned homes and businesses were either sold or donated back to the community. On a positive note, the two communities of East Rainelle and Rainelle merged on July 1, 1969.

Unlike most company towns, Rainelle developed into a commercial center that lasted beyond the closing of the mill. The Raines family cared not only for the company, but for the community as well – leading to businesses, recreational areas, and dedicated individuals who would ensure its survival.

In 2013, the town of Rainelle celebrates its 100th Anniversary with celebrations and events that commemorate this community’s rich history.

2013 Spring Lecture Series

Archivist Jim Talbert

                Archivist Jim Talbert

The Greenbrier Historical Society will host its Spring Lecture Series starting on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Designed as a series of “How To” workshops, these lectures will be led by GHS volunteers and staff.

On Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7pm, Archivist Jim Talbert will lead a discussion about using the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Archives for Genealogical and Historical Research – focusing on what NEW resources can be found in our collection.

On Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7pm, Museum Coordinator Toni Ogden will talk about “How to Care for Your Artifacts and Antiques.” Everyone has family heirlooms or collectables that they do not know how to care for. Toni will give advice about the do’s and don’ts of caring for your textiles, furniture, glass/ceramics, etc.

Our final lecture will be held on Thursday, May 9, 2013at 7pm. AmeriCorps member Kyle Mills will discuss “How to Care for Your Documents and Photographs.” With the popularity of scrapbooking, archival quality materials are easier than ever to find. Learn about the best way to store and care for your documents and photographs, see examples of what not to do, and find out what materials to use for your projects.

All of the lectures will be held at the North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg. There is a requested donation of $5 per lecture or $12 for all three. Seating is limited, so reserve your spot in advance by calling 304.645.3398.

GHS Hosts Trivia Night at the Irish Pub

Join the Greenbrier Historical Society on Tuesday April 23rd at 8:00pm for a fun night of trivia at the Irish Pub on Washington Street, located at 109 East Washington Street in Lewisburg. Whether you are a history buff or you think you know facts about West Virginia, come test your skills and enjoy an evening at the Irish Pub. Categories will include: the Greenbrier Valley, US Presidents, West Virginia facts, Famous West Virginians, and Random History trivia. Pub Quiz is held every Tuesday at the Irish Pub on Washington Street and hosted by various individuals and organizations.

For more information contact the Greenbrier Historical Society at 301.645.3398 or info@greenbrierhistorical.org. GHS is located at 301 W. Washington Street in Lewisburg and is open Monday-Saturday from 10am to 4pm or by appointment.

Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion Donated to GHS

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The Greenbrier Historical Society is very excited to announce that it will begin to stabilize and restore the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion thanks to the dedication of several wonderful individuals.

On April 16, 2013 in the office of Attorney Jesse O. Guills, Jr., who prepared the deed as his gift to the people of the Greenbrier Valley, Mrs. Rebecca Fleshman Lineberry donated the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion and 2 acres surrounding it to the Greenbrier Historical Society for restoration and preservation.

Mrs. Lineberry said, “This is a very good thing.  It is for a very good cause.  History is so long and the younger generation needs to find out what happened in the past.  There are so many stories that can be told.”

Mrs. Rebecca Lineberry

Mrs. Rebecca Lineberry

The Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion, located approximately 9 miles north of Alderson, is all that remains of the historic Blue Sulphur Spring Resort. By the early 1800s, sulphur water was believed to have healing qualities, and resorts were quickly established around the springs that exist throughout western Virginia. The spring at Blue Sulphur was known for its pleasant, crystalline water which appeared “blue as the Sea of Galilei (sic).”

Unlike most springs which originate on hillsides, the Blue Sulphur Spring bubbled up from the ground in the middle of a large field, discharging as much as 15 gallons of water per minute. It was first known as a lick, where herds of buffalo and other animals would gather. In 1816, the land was purchased by Joseph Martin and Charles Caraway for the sum of $3000. They made a few improvements, building wooden or log cabins for those who came to the spring for its healing powers. After a few years, Martin and Caraway sold the land to George Washington Buster for twice what they paid for it.

In 1834, the Blue Sulphur Spring Company was officially incorporated by the state of Virginia. The Blue Sulphur Spring Resort consisted of an elaborate brick hotel, 108 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 3 stories tall. The hotel had a grand ballroom, dining rooms, and sleeping quarters for guests, who came from as far away as Philadelphia, New Orleans, and even Europe. Beside the main hotel, brick cottages and frame cabins were built for additional guests – increasing the resort’s capacity to as many as 220 individuals.  A few notable visitors include Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Henry Clay, and Jerome Bonaparte.

The spring itself was enclosed with a marble slab, 5 feet in diameter. A large square Greek-style temple with 12 round brick columns encased in plaster was built to cover the spring. This springhouse is the only remaining structure of the original Blue Sulphur Spring Resort.

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Late 19th Century Visitors to the Spring

In 1840, Dr. Alexis Martin, a surgeon in the Imperial Army of Napoleon, came to the Blue Sulphur Spring Resort and headed the medical staff until 1859. He claimed the water would “aid in the cure of dyspepsia, hepatitis, indolent ulcers, skin diseases, nervous conditions in women, and other ailments.” Bath houses, steam rooms, and mud baths like the ones in Europe were built.

In 1859, the resort was floundering and its owners decided to sell it to the Baptist Association who began Allegheny College, a private academy that offered courses in the languages, science, history, and philosophy. After a successful first year, Allegheny College anticipated a large student body in 1860. Unfortunately, two serious things happened to hinder the college’s future success. First, a fire, believed to have been accidentally started in the laundry, destroyed the resort’s main building. Second, the outbreak of the Civil War caused many students to leave school and join either the Union or Confederate armies. Allegheny College officially closed its doors at the end of its second school year.

Throughout the Civil War, troops passing through used the Blue Sulphur Spring as a campsite. Most notably, a confederate regiment from Georgia camped at the spring in the winter of 1863. Not used to the climate, approximately 100 of them became ill and died. They were buried high on a hill about 200 yards northwest of the Blue Sulphur Spring. In 1864 Union troops burned, either deliberately or by accident, all that remained of the former Blue Sulphur Spring Resort with one exception – the Greek-style Springhouse. Soon after the war, ownership of the property returned to George Washington Buster when the courts ruled that the payments made by the Baptist Association were not valid since they were made in Confederate money.

The property was in the possession of Bernard H. Buster when he sold it to Lewis A. Fleshman on April 24, 1964.  Mrs. Rebecca Fleshman Lineberry inherited it from her father.

The Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in October 1992 and has been named to the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s 2013 Endangered Properties List. The Endangered Properties List brings attention to at-risk properties that contribute to our local heritage. Lynn Stasick, representing the Preservation Alliance was present at the deed signing.

Lynn Stasick with Mrs. Lineberry

Lynn Stasick with Mrs. Lineberry

Elizabeth McMullen, Executive Director of the Greenbrier Historical Society (GHS) said, “GHS is so grateful to Mrs. Lineberry for her marvelous gift to the people of the Greenbrier Valley.  Her generosity and farsightedness set an excellent example of preservation for generations to come.”

Margaret Hambrick, President of the Board of Directors of the GHS said, “While the Pavilion will not be immediately available to visitors because of the need to restore it and for safety, we all look forward to the day when it is again a destination for a Sunday afternoon drive or an ice cream social.”

In thanking Mrs. Lineberry, Ron Kirk, Vice President of GHS said, “By presenting this piece of history to GHS to preserve and protect, we can keep the memories of the resort and the area alive.”

The “Friends of the Blue” Committee of the GHS, chaired by Alex McLaughlin, will manage the restoration process.  Other members include Cathy Bolt (Mrs. Lineberry’s daughter), Irma Cadle, Skip Deegans, Raymond Tuckwiller, and Margaret Hambrick.

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L-R: Elizabeth McMullen, Executive Director, Greenbrier Historical Society; Karen Lee McClung, Board Member; Ron Kirk, Vice President; Mrs. Rebecca Fleshman Lineberry, donor of the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion; Margaret Hambrick, President; Cathy Bolt, daughter of Mrs. Lineberry; Karen Fankhauser, Board Member; and Alex McLaughlin, Board Member and Chair, Friends of the Blue Committee.

On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin presented a $35,000 Survey and Planning grant to the Greenbrier Historic Landmarks Commission in partnership with the Greenbrier Historical Society – Friends of the Blue Committee. This grant was provided by the Department of Education and the Arts through the Division of Culture and History. The Greenbrier County Commission has pledged to match the grant when the property is donated to GHS.  These grant funds will provide for an architectural and engineering study of the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion to determine the best way to proceed with its restoration and to develop plans and specifications for bidding the work.

Alex McLaughlin, Chair of the Friends of the Blue Committee and Board Member of the Greenbrier Historical Society, said “We are so appreciative of Susan Pierce, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer and Pamela Brooks, Grants Coordinator for their support of this project. There is a sense of urgency about this project because of the condition of the pavilion.”

Our Little Turtle Friend

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Serendipity explains it!  While representatives of the Greenbrier Historical Society were roaming the peaks and valleys of a Summers County mountain looking for saltpeter caves they found something that has everyone at the society scratching their heads.  It looks like a baby box turtle that got stuck in the mud 350 million years ago and turned to stone.  Come by the North House to take a closer look and register your opinion.

Thank You To Our Members

The Greenbrier Historical Society would like to recognize and thank all of those who renewed their 2013 Membership or became first-time members before January 2013.

  • John Alderson IV
  • Allen County Public Library
  • American Antiquarian Society
  • Belinda Anderson
  • Appalachian State University
  • Lockhart & Jean Arbuckle
  • Davis Arbuckle
  • Arbuckle Insurance Agency
  • Linda Babcock
  • Hallie S. Ball
  • Jack Ballard
  • Stephen Bartlett
  • Charles Bright
  • Jesse Elwood Brown
  • Carolyn Bryant
  • JoAnna Camp
  • Judy Carol
  • Lee Cherry
  • Glenda Chombeau
  • Sterling Coffman
  • Mary Pearl Compton
  • Terry Cooper
  • Dallas Public Library
  • Gary W.Dolin
  • Martha A. Exline
  • Fairfax Co. Public Library
  • Farmers Home Fire Insurance Co.
  • Michelle Fisher
  • R. Grady Ford
  • Jay Ford
  • Richard E. Ford
  • Sharon Francis
  • Christine Freeman
  • Elizabeth Fullen
  • Joan Gillespie
  • Joan Gunnoe
  • Nathaniel Harris
  • Cathy Harris
  • Ronald Hensley
  • Bobby M. Hinkley
  • Charlotte Hobson
  • Tim Holbrook
  • Jennifer Huffman
  • Lynn Hutchison
  • Jack Hutsenpiller
  • Larry D.Hyde
  • Charles Hylton
  • Joseph & Vivian Hytovick
  • Janet Jeffries
  • Eugene Jeffus
  • William Johnson
  • Paul Jones
  • Linda S, Kaufman
  • Delma Killinger
  • Stephen King
  • Margaret Krebs
  • Francis R. Larew
  • Peter & Andrea Lawson
  • Frances Layton
  • James K. Lette
  • Library of Virginia
  • Cathy Little
  • Karen Lobban
  • Laura Loudermilk
  • Stella Lowry
  • Paula Lynch
  • Richard Marting
  • Donald Mays
  • John & Aleta McCaffrey
  • Philip & Paula McLaughlin
  • Alex McLaughlin, Jr
  • Brian & Mary Ann McMullen
  • Samuel McNabb
  • Lanty & Janet McNeel
  • Barbara McSweeney
  • Robert & Jill Modlin
  • Tim W. Morgan
  • Gene & Phyllis Myers
  • Geraldine T. O’Bryan
  • David & Jackie Perkins
  • Carolyn Plumley-Cory
  • Ann B. Powers
  • Rosanna Reaser
  • Emory Reaser, Jr.
  • L. Elizabeth Reilly
  • Roanoke City Public Library
  • Michael Rucker
  • Thomas & Eugenia Sander
  • Cecilia Schiller
  • Lawrence Sherwood, Jr.
  • Bill & Frances Simmons
  • Ronald & Suzanne Snyder
  • Birk & Martha Stathers Jr.
  • Susan Supinger
  • David E.Tuckwiller
  • Fawn Valentine
  • Sharon Wallace
  • Delores Waltman
  • Robert DeGruyter White
  • William Wilson
  • Stephanie L. Wolfley
  • Steve Zarko

Interested in joining? Members receive a free copy of the society’s annual publication, The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society. Keep up with upcoming events and recent news through the society’s quarterly newsletter Appalachian Springs.  Member benefits also include one free query in Appalachian Springs and a 10% discount in the Star Tavern Gift Shop.

For more information, contact the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304.645.3398 or info@greenbrierhistorical.org. The Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, WV, are open free to the public Monday – Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

2013 GHS Membership Form

2013 GHS Membership Form