A Place to Call Home: A History of GHS (Part 2)

The Greenbrier Historical Society began in 1963 with a group of forty determined people on a mission “to promote interest in history of the Greenbrier area.” This year, its 50th Anniversary, the Greenbrier Historical Society has nearly 700 devoted members. In honor of 50 years, the GHS is reminiscing on their youthful days and the transitional periods that faced this society.

In the 1970’s, as the news of a historical society began to spread throughout the Greenbrier Area, so did its popularity. The Greenbrier communities, having a new found eagerness to preserve history, began flooding to the historical society with stories and historical artifacts. Almost daily, GHS would receive valuable artifacts and precious documents pertaining to the Greenbrier Valley history. Excited as they were about these historical treasures, the society was soon overwhelmed, as space and resources were limited. Lacking a location of their own, GHS became concerned that it would hinder fulfillment of their mission to promote interest in history. Finding a house for the society was the top priority!

GHS Collections Displayed in Cases

      GHS Collections                         Displayed in Cases

GHS searched several buildings over a span of several years within the Greenbrier Area but none seemed to fit just right. The home had to offer an environment that was safe, fireproof, and of decent size. The years continued to stretch on and the movement from a cinder-block building on Austin Street to the former Greenbrier Public Library caused wear on the artifacts and documents.

In 1974, 10 years after the start of the society, a home was finally within reach. Governor Arch Moore of West Virginia expressed his sincerest interest in working with GHS to find a headquarters. The “North House,” located in Lewisburg, had a rich history. For a long time, it was owned by the Greenbrier Women’s College and used as the President’s Home. When the college closed in 1972, the state of West Virginia took ownership. Governor Moore felt strongly that this house must be protected and gave it to the Greenbrier County Commission. With an agreement of one dollar per year, the GHS leased the historic North House from the Greenbrier County Commission in 1975. At last, the Greenbrier Historical Society could settle into a building that answered their every need.

The North House

                      The North House

Excitement for the North House swept throughout the Greenbrier community, but restoration was in need before the museum could ever open its doors to welcome the public. Money was tight and grants to restoration were hard to come by. For a brief time, it seemed as if the dream of having a home for the society might not be realized.

In 1976, with the support of the Greenbrier Valley communities, the North House was able to be restored. The City of Lewisburg took the restoration on as its Bicentennial Project, and additional money came from other supporters throughout the region. On July 4, 1976, GHS opened the doors to the long awaited museum, inviting the Greenbrier Valley community in to see the new exhibits and displays. The GHS archives found a new home on the second floor of the house, and people traveled from all across the county to see and learn of the histories that lay in these hills. The North House remained opened, greeting patrons every day, until the 1990s, when the growing organization, need for additional space, and the acquisition of the property brought changes to the North House.

The North House Dining Room after Restoration

         The North House Dining Room                                            After Restoration

 

Advertisements

Boy Scouts’ Hardwork at the North House

IMG_0068

IMG_0069On Friday July 19, 2013, the Greenbrier Historical Society was pleased to welcome a group of 40 Ohio boy scouts to the North House. They were part of the National Boy Scout Jamboree taking place this month in Fayette county and were taking part in the hundreds of service projects spread throughout nine counties in southern West Virginia.

IMG_0076The troops at the North House spent a long, hot, and humid day outdoors – building two picnic tables and two benches, weeding and mulching the flower beds, and removing an unsightly bush and rotting tree stump from the North House lawn. Never complaining, the scouts eagerly moved from one project to the next – only taking a break to eat lunch and enjoy a guided tour of the (air conditioned) North House.IMG_0082

After all of their hard work, the scouts enjoyed an ice cream cone at The Market in Lewisburg before boarding the bus to go back to camp. The Greenbrier Historical Society would like to extend a big thank you to the boy scouts and our volunteers Max Gibson, Truman Shrewsberry, and Margaret Hambrick as well as our AmeriCorps members Megan Ramsey and Kyle Mills for all of their hard work!

Item of the Week – July 18, 2013

BSSopeningNEWS

The Daily National Intelligencer
Washington: Tuesday June 26, 1838

Blue Sulphur Springs, Virginia

The Blue Sulphur Springs, twelve miles west of Lewisburg, and twenty-one from the White Sulphur, will be open on the 1st of June for the reception of visitors.

The steady and growing popularity of this watering place has induced the proprietors to increase their exertions to render it more and more worthy of the public patronage. The improvements are upon the most liberal scale, and are sufficient at present to accommodate about three hundred persons. The waters themselves (long and favorably known for their highly medicinal qualities have been recently traced to their original fountain, (over which a Grecian Temple is now being erected,) and the supply has been found to be much more full and copious with an obvious increase of strength and quality. The roads have also been greatly improved since the last season, and the mail stages from Staunton to Guyandotte will continue to run by the springs.

The fine salubrious baths attached to the springs will be kept, as usual, in a style of neatness and comfort, and no pains or expense on the part of the propriety, or their immediate superintendent, Major William Vass, shall be wanting to sustain the reputation of the Blue Sulphur, and to render it the favorite resort of a liberal and enlightened public.

Summer Picnic & Pie Auction

IMG_0668

Come join the Greenbrier Historical Society in celebrating our 50th Birthday with our First Annual Summer Picnic and Pie Auction on Sunday July 28th from 1-3pm on the North House lawn, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg.

Everyone is invited to enjoy a summer picnic with sun, fun, and great food, including hot dogs, pasta salad, baked beans, and watermelon. And, of course, a Birthday cake from The Bakery on Court Street. After you eat, pull up a chair or blanket and stay awhile! Live music will be provided by the talented Strum Sum Band.  Back by popular demand, our homemade pie auction will begin at 2:30pm!

Whether you are a long-time member or interested in what we do up here on the hill, come enjoy a delicious lunch, bid on a pie, share some memories, and learn about all the new programs and events at the Greenbrier Historical Society!

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under, and free for children under 4. Tickets are available in advance or on the day of the picnic. For more information or to reserve a ticket, please call 304.645.3398 or email info@greenbrierhistorical.org.

All proceeds will benefit the Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum. The Greenbrier Historical Society is a non-profit organization that works to collect, preserve, and  interpret the unique history and culture of the Greenbrier Valley, as well as provide educational programs and opportunities to the children and communities of southeastern West Virginia. Historical research and guided tours are offered free of charge Monday-Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Fort McCoy Project in Williamsburg Underway

 By Dr. Kim A. McBride

When is a barn much more than a barn – when it has a two story log house/fort inside, such as with McCoy’s Fort in Williamsburg.  According to McCoy Family tradition, the William McCoy house house/fort was built in 1769, making it one of the oldest standing structures in Greenbrier County.   It is the only standing log fort we know from the region, and as such, an incredible historic resource. Frontier forts were crucial to the continued occupation of West Virginia during Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolution. Without them many settlers would likely have abandoned the region for safer lands to the east.

McCoy’s Fort was briefly attacked following the Battle of Fort Donnally in May 1778, but local militia repulsed this attack. Sometime after the Indian Wars the McCoy family built a larger house nearby and the old log house/fort was transformed into an outbuilding and eventually enclosed in a frame barn. This barn helped the fort to survive for nearly a century and a half, but weakened by a tornado circa 2006 and the windstorm of June 2012, the outer barn is collapsing.

The Williamsburg District Historic Foundation, with support from the Daniel K. Thorne
Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Summers County Historic Landmarks Commission, the Greenbrier Historical Society, Preservation Alliance of WV, and the WV Humanities Council, is undertaking research and restoration of this important piece of history.  Efforts are underway to dismantle the outer barn and the inner log structure.  The latter will be restored, and reassembled on-site.  But first, as soon as the structures are removed, archaeological studies will be conducted to provide information on the early structure of the fort site.

On July 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23, 2013, scouts from the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative of the National Scout Jamboree will come to McCoy’s Fort to conduct archaeology, led by Drs. W. Stephen and Kim Arbogast McBride.  Support and volunteers are always needed, even with with future archaeology.  Anyone interested in helping please contact Dr. Kim Arbogast McBride at kim.mcbride@uky.edu, or (859) 233-4690. Those interested in helping with other aspects of the project can contact Carolyn Stephens at cbstephens23@aol.com.  Interested members can also follow the project via updates in Appalachian Spring, or digitally on the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Facebook page or Blog at greenbrierhistorical.wordpress.com.

GHS To Host Trivia Night on July 16th

Join the Greenbrier Historical Society on Tuesday July 16 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. Pub Quiz is held every Tuesday at the Irish Pub on Washington Street and hosted by various individuals and organizations.

irish pub