IN THE GREENBRIER VALLEY -- They call it the "new wing," the two-story addition built onto Spring Valley in 1889.
That's understandable, as the main clapboard structure was constructed in 1837, and the dining room even earlier.
As Page Dickson moved from room to room, she pointed out items, explaining whom the ancestor is in the portrait and what antique belonged to what distant relative. She knows what it cost to build the house -- $1,900 -- and the staircase -- $36.
The expenditures are listed in the ledger saved through the years since Richard Dickson had the house built on Second Creek, outside Ronceverte. A Dickson has lived on the property since 1776.
Jarrett House is even older. It was built of stone in 1815 on a hillside near Alderson. But no Jarrett had lived there since before the Civil War until descendant Margaret Clay Hambrick and her husband bought it in 1976.
For the first time, both houses will be open to the public as part of the Lemonade and Lavender home tour June 8. The fundraiser for the Greenbrier Historical Society will feature another first-timer -- the Jeter House. None of the five houses on the tour are in Lewisburg.
"We thought we would dip into other areas," said Hambrick, president of the historical society. "We have beautiful houses in the country too."
Tour organizers have mapped out two driving loops over country roads to see Spring Valley and two other houses in the Second Creek area, and to view the Jarrett House and the Cedars in the Alderson/Blue Sulphur Springs area.
A CD may be purchased for $10 to play during the drive that will give the history of the houses and the countryside they are passing through.
Also for the first time, the Lemonade and Lavender Tour is expanding into a three-day event. An opening gala will take place June 7 at the Jarrett House, with the house tour on June 8 and a tour of Ronceverte on June 9.
No stone untouched
For five years, Hambrick and her husband, David, spent every Saturday with a stonemason laying the dry-stack stone walls to terrace the steep hillside in front of the Jarrett House. "My husband says I gathered every rock in a three-county area."
Although the landscaping doesn't reflect the original contour, most of the main house is original. "I am a purist," she said. "The two main floors have no electricity, no heat, no running water."
On the back of the house, however, is a new one-story addition with every convenience -- a kitchen with all the appliances, living and dining rooms and modern bath.
The 21st-century and 19th-century houses are connected by a short corridor called a "hyphen."
In the older section, the Hambricks removed the plaster-covered lath work to expose the beams, which they cleaned and sealed, making dusting much easier. She surmises that the first room was used as an office by James Jarrett, who had salt works in the Kanawha Valley and more land on Muddy Creek.
The second room downstairs was probably the master bedroom and the domain of the wife and mother, where she sat sewing, spinning, reading and caring for the children. Hambrick said Jarrett had two wives and maybe as many as 24 children.
She envisions children sleeping three to four in a bed in the large second-floor bedroom. A smaller bedroom might have been for the older children or for the slave tending the children.
In the restoration, Hambrick said they were lucky because farm families had lived in the house since it left the family in the 1850s. "They didn't put money into the house, but they didn't do it any harm either," she said.
There is still no staircase from the main part of the house to the basement, where the kitchen was, with a fireplace big enough, Hambrick said, "to stand up, and lie down in." Used now as a recreation room, the large room does have electricity.
Over the years, the Hambricks have collected period-appropriate furnishings for the house. A collection of needlepoint samplers decorates the wall, with one dating to 1749.
The house sits on 100 acres left in the original land claim by James Jarrett in 1774 by settlement on Muddy Creek.
Hambrick said their restoration efforts began in earnest about 12 years ago when she retired as an administrator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Although she lived throughout the country, they have always maintained a house in Alderson, where David Hambrick was a banker.
'I have loved living here'
The main reason Page Dickson knows so much Spring Valley history is because she has lived there for 26 of the 36 years she was married to a Dickson.
"My husband was born here and died here," she said.
There were always relatives around the dining room table, so she became steeped in the family history and stories, and can keep track of great-great-aunts and first cousins once removed.
And if the sideboard or sugar chest didn't come from some branch in the family tree, it was discovered at an estate sale or auction usually somewhere in the Greenbrier valley area.
She pointed to a chest of drawers in the living room. "I bought that for $20 -- with its original pulls. I was bidding against a farmer who was going to put his farm tools in it!"
Then there's the 7-foot-tall wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom that had been stored in a barn on the farm. Refinished in a warm brown stain, Dickson said she now knows "I should have left it black."
The first Dickson settled on land on the Monroe County side of Second Creek in 1774 on land that the Indians used as a camping ground. "Every year, when we plow in the spring, we turn up arrowheads," Page Dickson said.