We returned to the hills of West Virginia a couple weekends ago for a family reunion. The world headquarters of the Grey family is the tiny town of Handley, population about 400. It lies on the Kanawha River about 25 miles southeast of Charleston.
But Charleston is where we laid our heads each night. My uncle John lives there, on Capitol Hill overlooking the city. He and his wife Robin recently bought a second house on the hill: the Savage House. Built in 1894, it was the first house on the hill. “We’re converting it into a bed and breakfast,” John said. “You’d be the first guests. You can have the run of it all weekend.” It would be quite a step up from the Motel 6, where we usually stay, so you’d better believe we accepted.
Charleston is West Virginia’s capital city. You can see the capitol dome from the house’s east windows. But when the house was built, the capitol lay at the foot of the hill directly below; it’s how the hill got its name. Jesse Savage, a prominent Charelestonian who owned the Charleston Lumber Company and the Savage Quarry, built this house for his family. Here’s a photo of the house from shortly after it was built, showing the Savage family.
The Savages had quite a view from up there. In the intervening 117 years, the city has been built up considerably. Of course, the Savages’ view was not hindered by utility poles and lines.
Uncle John and Aunt Robin are the fourth to own the Savage House. It stayed in the Savage family until about 1980. The next owner apparently modernized the house; the owner after that restored it to its Victorian glory. John and Robin have owned the house only briefly, and so far they’ve just managed to furnish it sparsely. This is the sitting room just off the front entrance.
This is the bedroom where I slept. The big house was peaceful and quiet, a perfect place for this introvert to recharge after a day of driving or a day surrounded by the extended family.
The room is upstairs and faces the city. As the sun sets, the light inside is fantastic.
All night, the city lights bathe the room in a soft glow.
On our first evening in town we walked down to John and Robin’s to visit. A gentle rain shower had just let up and the sun was setting.
I took all of these photos with my iPhone, but took a bunch more photos on film. I’m sure I’ll share some of those photos here and there after they come back from the processor.
I’ve also been inside the Glossbrenner
Mansion in Indianapolis; see it here.