WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The stately mansion has been a home, an inn and even a stop on the Underground Railroad.
What Mountain Home will be next is the dilemma facing Lewisburg lawyer Paul Detch and his siblings.
They inherited the 176-year-old house from their mother, Rosalie Detch, who died last year at age 92. She purchased the house at auction 10 or 12 years ago.
"We want to see it restored and preserved," said Detch, during a recent tour of Mountain Home.
But to what?
The brick Colonial-style structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. It sits on 48 acres overlooking U.S. 60, just off the White Sulphur Springs exit of Interstate 77.
Because of its location, the Detch family thinks it's obvious that the house should be a commercial enterprise -- a restaurant, perhaps, or furniture store, funeral home, bed and breakfast, conference center.
"We're interested in seeing what the people in the community and the state might suggest as to what this property could be restored to so that it could be of use as a commercial enterprise," Detch said.
His mother was about 80 when she bought the mansion with the intention of building a hotel on the land. She had owned and operated the Savannah Inn in Lewisburg for years, till she was 85.
During her stewardship, she repaired the windows and the roof. Detch mainly has made cosmetic improvements on the first floor.
The three first rooms are each 22 by 22 feet with 12-foot-high ceilings. The intricately carved fireplace mantels are original.
Detch isn't sure who made the mantels but believes it was Conrad Burgess, a man noted for his carpentry in the Greenbrier Valley in the early 19th century. "His fingerprints are all over them," he said of the woodwork.
Ruth Woods Dayton wrote that perhaps no other house mentioned in "Lewisburg Landmarks," her 1957 book, "can be found in more complete original condition than Mountain Home."
She noted, "A rare circumstance is the preservation of much of the original interior paint in interestingly different colors, beet red, putty, dark blue-green -- shades all seen in restored Williamsburg today."
Detch has tried to follow the original colors in painting the rooms and fireplaces. In the yet unfinished foyer, the paint has been scraped down to reveal that it once was red.
The thick oak plank floors are those that were installed when the mansion, first named Locust Hill, was built between 1830 and 1834. The old box locks and brass knobs are on the 40-inch doors.
Faux wood grain is painted on some of door panels. In the parlor, the wood baseboards are painted black and splattered with white paint for a look of marble. "It was quite popular at the time," Dayton noted in an earlier book, "Greenbrier Pioneers and Their Homes," published in 1942. Although there is chair rail paneling in the main rooms, there is no crown molding.