Pence Springs in Summers Co, WV is named so due to the spring resort established by Andrew Pence.
Andrew used the natural spring water for his resort guests to drink (at this time spring water was believed to have healing properties) and in 1882 he started bottling the water from the spring to sell. The water became famous across the county when it won a silver medal for its “high quality of the spring sulpho-alkaline” at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
In the 1890’s the first hotel was built, but would burn down in 1912. Horse drawn carriages would bring guests from the local stockyard/ train station to the hotel.
The second Pence Springs Hotel was built in 1918 conveniently built on the hill above the spring to let guests easily spend the night and enjoy the healing waters.
During the “Roaring '20s” the building had some hidden secrets. While most guests came to “take the waters,” others came for the hidden bar in the basement that acted as a speakeasy during prohibition. Any visitor coming to the bar had the option to come from the train station in a window-tinted limousine so as not to be seen. The illegal alcohol was imported from Kentucky until the hotel started their own whiskey distillery. The hotel also bought moonshine from the locals of Summers Co. In the 1920s, guests could also enjoy the golf course, pavilion ballroom, and casino.
Gambling and illegal alcohol made the hotel a classic roaring '20s party, but it all had to be “hush hush.” In 1913, West Virginia was under the Yost Law to enforce prohibition. By 1920, prohibition went national with the Volstead Act. Sheriffs, constables, city police, and eventually the state police would all enforce the dry law by hunting down bootleggers and moonshiners.
If you're looking for a legal good time with all the same thrills that the 1920s had to offer, come join the Historical Society’s 1920s party/fundraiser at Stellar Evening, December 3rd at 6:30pm, in the gymnasium of the Greenbrier Community School. Wear your best 1920s attire and get ready to dance! Tickets are on sale now! Get them while you can, as seats are limited. Tickets will only be sold until December 1st, 2022. There will be NO ticket sales at the door at the time of the event. Admission is $50 per person, or you can choose to sponsor a table for 4 or 8 people.
Hope to see you there! www.eventbrite.com/e/stellar-evening-2022-tickets-460279998867
For several months now the Hinton community has been anticipating the opening of a new department store, called Roses. The old Magic Mart building in Avis had been shut down and empty until Roses started moving in and hiring staff this year. With an opening date in early November, the town has been waiting to see what this new store might be like. What some might not know is that Hinton has seen a Roses before, but under different management; and it was 100 years ago, literally.
The Roses coming to Hinton in November 2022 is a discount store that was first founded in Henderson, North Carolina in 1915 by Paul Howard Rose. Roses was bought by Variety Wholesalers Inc. in 1997. Back in the early 1900s, Shan Rose of Hinton founded and ran the Rose’s Drug Store in downtown Hinton. It was located at the corner of 3rd and Temple.
In the heyday of the Roses Drug Store there were advertisements all around town using their slogan “Get it at Roses”. These advertisements were on their trucks (which offered free deliveries, no matter how small) and on the side of barns. They even had a float in the WWI Victory Parade and decked out the store to celebrate the end of the war.
The Rose family owned and managed the store. In the image below you can see founder Shan Rose, his son John Rose is behind the counter, and his son Charlie Rose is working as the fountain boy. Founder Shan Rose is pictured here with his dog. The family is buried at Hilltop Cemetery in Hinton, WV.
On 19th century American farmsteads, comfort in the form of food and textiles were expected to be provided by the woman of the house. Soft, warm furnishings were made in the home or done without. Little girls in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries worked samplers where they could practice alphabet and numbers while gaining facility with needle and thread. Most of us have seen examples of these; considered antiques, they are collected. Somewhat less well known, quilting was another needle art that introduced young girls to necessary homely skills that could be decorative as well as useful. Making warm quilts for a growing family was an expected task, just as weaving coverlets had been before inexpensive cloth became widely available and looms were put away.
We have a couple of these little textiles out on display in the dining room of the North House Museum as part of our celebration of National Quilt Month in March (and into April). Their makers were probably stitching with their dolls in mind.
Jane Hughes, retired librarian and long-time volunteer in the Greenbrier Historical Society’s archives, shared with us a quilt her grandmother made as a girl of 10. Known as Redwork, these white quilts with red embroidered animals, plants and people were popular in the late 1800s - early 1900s, and pattern books could be purchased.
The actual quilting was as important as the embroidery, though many examples of unquilted tops exist. The quilting was less fun than making embroidered pictures. If you look closely at Nellie’s quilting, you can’t help but be impressed with her neat lines, her ability to achieve 10 to 12 stitches to the inch, and the perseverance required to complete the quilt.
We don’t know the identity of the girls who created the doll-sized quilt tops in our collection, but we do know about Nellie of the Redwork quilt, not the least because she signed and dated her work. If only every one of our quiltmakers had done that!
Born in 1888 to a family in the Midwest, Nellie Edith Bray Becker grew up to be a no nonsense, practical farm wife. She made handsome quilts for her family but maintained that beauty was beside the point of a quilt; and yet, this her first quilt, a sampler finished in 1908, shows a definite penchant for decorative work and awesome stitching.
More Than A School – Collective Memories from Bolling School Alumni -- By Arabeth Balasko
“A forgotten past is a past that is yet to be. A forgotten history is a memory missing from our collective conscience. An incomplete history is like an incomplete mind that has forgotten who it is and where it came from.” ― A.E. Samaan
What do you remember about your early school experiences? Can you recall the exact details of your classroom’s layout? What about the smells of the hallway? Do you remember all of your teacher’s names? What about significant moments in time – do you remember where you were when you found out about these life-changing events?
In December 2021, I had the privilege to speak with two alumni from Bolling School, a former segregated school located in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Bolling School operated as both an elementary and high school and became the only high school open to Black students in Greenbrier County prior to desegregation. Although it officially closed its doors as a segregated institution in 1964, Bolling School’s legacy has lived on in its alumni for decades.
Today the school’s layout has changed physically, but in the memories of Mr. Alex Pryor and Mr. Marion Gordon, Bolling School looks just as it did in the 1950s. Both now in their 70s, each can still recall every detail of their time at Bolling School. Their stories, although different, shared many collective notes – the influence of their educators, the compassion and care of their community, and their lifelong connection to, and their love for the Bolling School transported me back in time with them as they shared their memories with me.
Their interpretation of growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in Greenbrier County, West Virginia and their personal experiences of racism and discrimination juxtaposition with their stories of individual successes and triumphs. These unique and shared experiences serve as gateways into the past – memories and stories allow for individuals to connect with one another on a deeper, more meaningful level.
Oftentimes, we as people shy away from hard histories, hard conversations – we can minimize hurts, and maximize virtues, but I feel that is a misstep. History is ugly, sad, beautiful, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and real. It happened. We cannot change that, but we can work together to showcase how it happened, why it happened, and help reshape it for today’s generation through a modernized lens. It is one way to step forward into a new story, a new era of oral histories and shared experiences. By encouraging folks to use their voices, to speak their story, and share their truth, there is a lot of healing and rebuilding which can happen in the humanities realm.
I will close with this – I feel that it is always important to stay human – meaning, approach all you do with an open-mind, an inquisitive nature, and a listening ear. You never know how your approach, your efforts, your “expressions of love,” can repair a damaged relationship, inspire a new generation of folks, or encourage others to take ownership of their stories and reclaim their voices.
To hear Mr. Pryor and Mr. Gordon's Oral History interviews about their time at the Bolling School, please click on the videos below to be redirected to the Greenbrier Historical Society's YouTube channel!
AND if you, or someone you know went to Bolling School and would like to share your/their story with us, please reach out to us at 304-645-3398 to learn more!
Come Learn About Historic Tavern Stenciling with Deb Marquis-Cascio -- By Arabeth Balasko
When Deb, the Greenbrier Historical Society's Lead Docent and Museum Associate, began an intensive stenciling project in July 2021 at the North House Museum, she embarked on a journey that would transform our historic space into a working tavern room!
This stenciling project has been a true "labor of love," for the Greenbrier Historical Society team. The newly configured area has become a mode of "transport," which has enabled patrons to step back into time and visit the Frazer's Star Hotel Tavern Room, which was a popular establishment in Lewisburg, West Virginia during the 1830s-1850s.
In 1836, James Frazer purchased the North House. He immediately began to renovate and expand the property's footprint, and turned the once familial dwelling into the Frazer's Star Hotel and Tavern. During these renovations, Frazer added two additional wings of rooms for guests and other various outbuildings.
Recently, the North House Museum team found an 1854 description of the property under Frazer's ownership, which stated, "...there are two good cellars, an orchard, a vegetable garden, a fifty-horse stable, outhouses comprising of servants’ (enslaved) cabins, kitchens, a meat house, and a dairy." The Frazer Star Hotel and Tavern operated until Frazer’s death in 1854.
Thanks to the hard work of the North House Museum team, the newly renovated Tavern Room now serves as both an educational period room and an event space. During their visit, visitor's can learn about the history of the Frazer family, the enslaved presence at the Star Hotel, and the role of hotels and resorts during the mid-1800s.
To learn more about the most eye-catching addition to the Tavern Room, the period-accurate historic stenciling, check out the interview below between Greenbrier Historical Society AmeriCorps Member, Arabeth, and our skilled stencil artist, Deb.
Q. What drew you to pick those specific color schemes and patterns for the Tavern Room stenciling project, Deb?
A. "Well, the okra color for the walls was already picked out from historic paint samples -- our goal was to make it as authentic and historic to the time period as possible. I ended up doing a lot of research on 19th century Tavern Rooms because we did not have any real pictures of what the Tavern Room here looked like at that time -- but even if we had, they would have been in black and white anyway. Ironically, I kept seeing the okra colored walls in my research, and it was really kind of serendipitous that we had already chosen that color for the walls! The colors I saw used the most were the reds, rusts, greens, and okras. We decided that if we stuck to just a few colors in our scheme, we could put as many patterns up as we wanted to in the room -- and it would all go together, it would all be cohesive!
I choose the pineapple since it symbolized a sign of welcome. It would often go over doorways and in public places. The other stencils I choose were pretty typical to the day, they didn't necessarily have a specific meaning. The bird was chosen because it is going to be an overall theme of the room -- both above the mantel and incorporated into the fabric for the curtains. The other stencils were just 1800s stencils that looked like they would be a good fit for this space."
Q. How long did it take you to complete the project? Were you surprised by the time frame?
A. "Well, we started with the fireplace stenciling when the Tavern Room officially opened in July, and it was a very quick 1-hour process. Very few stencils were put up, but it gave an idea for people to see what was to come! I got started on the more in-depth stenciling in September, and there is one more large stencil I am waiting on at this time. Then I think the room will be done. But, maybe not! I'm still looking around seeing some bare spaces that need to be filled. Some of the pictures I saw of old Tavern Rooms , well the walls were covered COMPLETELY in stencils! It looked like wallpaper. I was amazed looking at them thinking it must have taken them such a long time to do all of that. But, that's how they did then. Wallpaper was very expensive back then. Stenciling was an inexpensive way to get that same look and pattern. As I look around in here, I think, "Yeah, there is quite a bit in here, but I can still do more!" This was the first time I had done anything like this, so I really did not have a timeline in mind. But in the back of my mind I though it was probably going to take me about a month. Hahahaha, and I went well past that! I found some of the patterns to be very tedious and time consuming. The ones that I thought would be the easiest tended to be the ones that were the most time consuming! It took a little longer than I anticipated, but in the end, I think it was worth it."
Q. Have you ever done a project like this in a historical space/home? Tell us a little bit about your background with interior design?
A. "I had never done anything like this in a historic space, but I did do interior design projects for private homes. Not so much stenciling, but sponging was very popular when I did interior design back then. And I did sponges that were very similar to the stencils -- and sponges gave a finished look too, just like the stencil do. This was kind of a first time with this type of project."
Q. What was your favorite part about the stenciling project? What was a bit of a challenge -- if anything?
A. "I enjoyed seeing it all come together, because it really wasn't planned...it really kind of came along as I went from part to part in the room. I let the room dictate to me what it needed. There are parts from different things in the room that are put together. The hardest part was figuring out the measurements. That was the part I most disliked. It took me a few days of measuring and remeasuring -- one wall is bit longer than the other so I had to fit the same patterns into spaces with different measurements. But, I bet that you can't tell which wall was bigger -- and guess what, I am not going to tell you!"
Q. As our main docent, what have been some of the comments you’ve heard from our visitors during your tours of the space?
A. "Everyone seems to really like it! I have not heard anything negative at this point. People tell me that they like this room before they even know I had anything to do with it. People have said that this room makes them feel comfortable. I notice that people tend to linger in the room, too -- they take longer in the space -- they are not in any rush to get out. Sometimes I have to encourage people to go into the next room, the next exhibit space to keep things moving for the tour. Hahahaha! They just want to stay in here, and often times, they will revisit the space again once the tour is over. I even had a gentlemen walk into the museum specifically asking to see this room. He had heard about it, and he wanted to see it for himself in person. I feel that this room has done the purpose of what we all had hoped it would -- what it was intended to do. And that makes me glad -- it had done what I hoped it would do."
Thank you Deb, for all of your hard work at bringing the Tavern Room alive with color and vibrancy!
After learning about historic stenciling from Deb, are you interested in beginning your own project? Well, you're in luck! Come visit the Greenbrier Historical Society Library and Archive and take a look at our copy of Early American Wall Stencils in Color. You just may find a pattern that inspires your inner artist! We are open from 10:00-4:00 Tuesday through Saturday -- please call ahead to make an appointment.
And here are some helpful tips, too if you are looking to start your own project:
Are you are interested in seeing our Tavern Room stenciling in person? We hope that you can come visit us! You can try your hand at writing with quill and ink, or attempt a game of historic loo with your group. For those of age, you can even come join us during First Fridays and other special events and special occasions, and enjoy Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company's Ole Ran'l Pilsner on draft in the Tavern Room.
We look forward to seeing you there, one day soon...
Deb Marquis-Cascio Bio:
Deb had lived in Connecticut her whole life until she moved to Maxwelton 8-years ago. Her and her husband of 9-years, Greg, moved to West Virginia when Greg took a job at the hospital.
Before joining us at the Greenbrier Historical Society, Deb was an interior designer for a high-end retailer and also worked on the side on both large and small design projects. Deb left the design field around 1988 to work for a doctor. She continued her work as an office manager for 20+ years until leaving the field in 2005.
Deb has two daughters, Danielle and Melissa, and two grandkids, Elizabeth and Gabriel.
One of Deb's personal projects is sewing burial gowns for stillborn babies out of donated wedding dresses. She has truly been a great asset to the Greenbrier Historical Society over the last 3.5 years.