Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling West Virginia: Henderson Hall

I had been promising myself for months that we would stop at Henderson Hall on day on our way to our Marietta booth. This past week I made it a plan instead of a promise and it was certainly worth taking the time to visit.

The Henderson family arrived in the Ohio Valley in the late 1700's and promptly established themselves as a primary force in the settlement communities along the river. With connections to many in power in the relatively new United States government, it stands to reason that this family would play a prominent role in the government of the frontier. they must have recognized that fact early on, for they saved every letter, receipt, diary, broken cup, school book, chair, and much more--all put away in a third floor attic room for the enjoyment, wonderment and edification of future generations
The exterior is imposing but not overly ostentatious. Larry, the retired bricklayer, enjoyed seeing the fine masonry work,
and we were both impressed by the carved sandstone columns and corners of the front entry porch.

The interior was like stepping back in time. This family, as I said, did not throw much away, and took good care of the things they owned so the decor is a mixture of eras and styles, but all tastefully blended and interesting as can be to anyone interested in antiques.

We went upstairs to the find...

and bedrooms...

and more bedrooms,

and even a wedding gown.

This is the third floor storage room, which I'm betting they called they "lumber room" since that was the English term and the USA was only recently separated from the mother country at the time Henderson Hall was built. Lots of treasures here!

And a view looking down the stairwell,

which is very similar to this view at the Louis Bennett house, built in 1875 in Weston, WV, which now house the public library. Henderson Hall (the new section) was built in 1836, but the style is certainly comparable.

 Wonder of wonders, you can even go up into the widow's walk on top of the mansion to see the view! I tried to imagine what it looked like in the early 1800's when the Hendersons were farming the fields around their home. What a sight it must have been.

Back to the second floor landing, where it was much cooler than the windowed widow's walk,

and then to the first floor to view the lovely parlor (can't imagine calling it a living room!),

and the gorgeous dining room, with the table set for ten guests,

and into the kitchen, where the last Henderson to live in the house uncovered and restored the original fireplace:

There is much more to see in Henderson Hall than what I have shown here. So many antiques, photos, artifacts that it boggles the mind, truly. The Hall is funded by the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg, WV, and volunteers from that group do upkeep and are docents at the hall. A labor of love, certainly.

Our guide told us that the letters and other ephemera were currently being sorted and placed into archival boxes. I hope that these will be made available to researchers and historians, as 200 years of letters is really a treasure trove and a perfect insight into the way of life in bygone days.

This photo shows the original house at the rear and the later addition of the "hall." It's apparent that the family's fortunes continued to do well in the valley.

Henderson Hall is located at 517 River Rd, Williamstown, WV (Off WV 14 north of Parkersburg)

Call 304-375-2129 for information about group tours, hours, etc. Admission is $5.00 per person, and they usually open Noon to 5:00pm daily.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Lovely Italiante building.

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