Over the years, many Greenbrier Countians have taken the almost 200-year-old North House on West Washington Street for granted. Every day, Lewisburg natives traveling up and down Rt. 60 nonchalantly zoom by the small glass-enclosed porte-cochere of the building. Little do they realize that they are passing by a living juggernaut, managed by one of the most well-organized and successful historical societies in West Virginia. The North House Museum continues to entertain thousands of tourists every year and expand its outreach.
The North House Museum doesn’t simply contain dull, lifeless artifacts. Each room enchants the visitor with intriguing themes about our region’s history, such as the healing spring resorts, the Civil War era, and our unique art culture. As the charismatic tour guides inject vigor into each facet of the museum, the unmitigated spirit of the North House stands out like a frisbee flying over a salt flat.
Tourists are entertained and enlightened with incredible stories and details about numerous local celebrities, including the famed beauty queen Mattie Ould, fascinating German artist Edward Beyer, Robert E. Lee and his glorious war horse Traveler, Fort Donnally hero Dick Pointer, and the tragic figure Mariah Carey (yes, Greenbrier County had its own Mariah!).
One who tours the establishment will quickly discover that Greenbrier County was never just a backwoods inhabited by ignorant hillbillies. During the early 1800s, an aristocratic and intellectual society grew around Lewisburg, led by the original owner of the North House, John North. North, after all, was at the time the wealthiest man in southern Virginia. His wealth is exhibited throughout the house in detail.
There truly is something in the North House for people in every walk of life. Seamstresses will enjoy inspecting various pieces like the massive flax wheel and the first treadle sewing machine in Greenbrier County. Postal workers will appreciate learning about West Virginia’s role in the formation of the USPS with the Rural Free Delivery Mail Wagon. Also, there are several amusing artifacts that kids will love. It seems that children always get a big laugh when learning about chamber pots of the 1800s! Features on the Great Turkey Drive of Lewisburg, The Greenbrier Ghost, and even Barbie dolls make a North House tour quite the riveting adventure.
Along with the first-class tour, the North House contains the genealogical center of Greenbrier County. The Greenbrier Historical Society has the capacity to conduct extensive Greenbrier County family history research and provide information on a wide variety of topics. The North House’s amicable and diligent volunteers are always excited to assist you.
As the late Greenbrier County historian Kenneth Swope said in 1976, “Greenbrier’s history is obviously a small part of our nation’s history, but we can be proud that our county was, and still is, important; that its role was substantial and varied, and that its people in many instances gained fame and deserved praise.”
Be sure to visit where history comes alive, one of the region’s best tourist attractions, the North House. Hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day except Sunday.
– Ben Anderson, HashtagWV #92. August 2017