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 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
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