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John A. North House
John A. North House.jpg
Front and northern side
Location 301 West Washington St., Lewisburg, West Virginia
Area 0.8 acres (0.32 ha)
Built c. 1820
NRHP reference No. 74001998
Added to NRHP October 9, 1974

The John A. North House is a historic house museum and archives located in Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Currently, the North House is Greenbrier County's only historic house museum. Since 1976, The Greenbrier Historical Society has operated within the North House, and in 1992 the North House was officially purchased by the Greenbrier Historical Society. In 1992, the home officially became known as " North House Museum, Greenbrier Historical Society."

Early history

The North House was the original home of prominent local lawyer John A. North and his new wife Charlotte. Built in 1820, the North House was initially a two-story "L-shaped plan," Federal Style dwelling. The layout consisted of a foyer, an informal parlor (which would have been used only by the family), a formal parlor for entertaining guests, and a dining room. The upstairs would have mirrored the downstairs floor plans and would have been used by the family as sleeping quarters. The interior of the home was quite lavish for the 1820s, but the exterior was also exquisite. The North House features a double portico with heavy columns supporting a high pediment, and the English red clay bricks which were used in the exterior construction of the home were originally dug from the front lawn and fired in a kiln on the property. Once completed, the North House became one of Lewisburg's first two-story brick homes.

The North Family moved into the house in 1821 and lived there until the early 1830s. The North family consisted of John A. North, his wife Charlotte, and their four daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Margaret, Isabella, and Martha Jane. The North's were a wealthy family with prominent status. John A. North was of English descent and was the Grandson of Roger North of Banberry, England and Catherine Davis of Donegall County, Ireland.

During his time in Lewisburg, John A. North was appointed Clerk of the Greenbrier District Court of Chancery, and Clerk of the District of Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Expansion

After the North Family had moved out of the home, the property was quickly purchased by a local man named James Frazer. By 1834, Frazer was already known in Lewisburg for building a two-story brick building which he leased to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. This building was conveniently located adjacent to the North House. After he had purchased the North House in 1836, Frazer and his family opened "Frazer's Star Tavern." Frazer changed the original layout of the house and added two wings to the property. The new additions to the home allowed Frazer to establish a popular local restaurant and an affordable Inn with guest rooms for travelers, lawyers, and jurists to use while attending Court in the adjacent Court House. The Inn and Tavern also served as a popular "rest stop" for travelers along the James River and Kanawah Turnpike.

After Frazer's death in 1868, his son sold the Inn and Tavern in the early 1870s. The North House was transferred to a new owner, Colonel Joe McPherson, and once again became a private residence. The house had been purchased by Col. McPherson for his daughter and son-in-law, and the house underwent a "Victorian Era" make-over. One of the tavern wings which had been added by Frazer had been removed, and metal window hoods, gutters, segmented columns, and architectural embellishments were added to the facade of the home.

At the turn of the 20th century, the North House was once again sold, and became occupied by Dr. Robert L. Telford and his family. From 1890 to 1894, Dr. Telford pastored the Old Stone Church (Lewisburg, West Virginia), and then later became the first President of the Lewisburg Female Institute, also known as the Greenbrier College for Women. Dr. Telford lived in the home with his family until his death.

Throughout the early decades of the 1900s, the North House underwent several changes in order to make it a modernized home. In 1925, the house was purchased by the Lewisburg Female Institute (Greenbrier College for Women), and the renovation process began. A two-story addition containing a sun-parlor and a porte cochere were constructed; and closets, a new front door, the installation of central heating, and running water were also added to the home. The renovated house became the official Lewisburg Female Institute (Greenbrier College for Women)President's Home, until the closing of the College in 1972.

The North House has also housed the Lewisburg Seminary and Conservatory of Music. However, since 1976 the Greenbrier Historical Society has operated the North House Museum out of the home, and the Historical Society has officially owned the building since 1992.

Additionally, the North House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Museum

The Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the rich history of the Greenbrier Valley. The museum's permanent displays and temporary exhibits feature items from across the Greenbrier Valley, including, but not limited to; the training saddle of General Robert E. Lee's horse Traveler, an 18th-century covered wagon, Civil War artifacts, furniture and textiles made by local craftsman and women, as well as items from the North family.

The Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum also offers educational program, a research archive, group tour rates, and membership opportunities.

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