Preservation

A weekend on Capitol Hill

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.

The Savage House

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.

SavageHouse

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.

View from Capitol Hill

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.

Savage House sitting room

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.

Savage House bedroom

The room is upstairs and faces the city. As the sun sets, the light inside is fantastic.

Savage House bedroom

All night, the city lights bathe the room in a soft glow.

Nighttime view from Capitol Hill

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.

Sunset over Capitol Hill

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.

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I’ve also been inside the Glossbrenner
Mansion in Indianapolis; see it here.

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14 thoughts on “A weekend on Capitol Hill

    • It’ll be a year or two, I think. They have some construction to do. They’re converting the attic into a suite, and there’s a bathroom they need to add in one of the to-be suites.

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  1. Beautiful! Looks very restful and rejuvenating. I so enjoy touring old homes, and thankfully, my job allows me to do this with regularity. I also enjoyed your post on the Glossbrenner Mansion – i’ll be sure to look it up next time we head to Indianapolis. Have you had the chance to tour any of the mansions in Newport, RI? Definitely worth a stop if you ever get to the area.

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  2. Jennifer S says:

    Beautiful house! I especially love the old photo juxtaposed with the house today. Interesting to see the external changes. I always wish people wouldn’t tinker with original architecture. But if it’s got to happen… it helps to have a good old photo for comparison!

    Can’t wait to see more pictures… and hope you had fun in West Virginia.

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  3. You had a great view of the city! Were you able to see much of Charleston while you were here in the Valley? I’m living in the East End now, and I never get tired of seeing all the older homes.

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    • Matt, I didn’t – we spent most of our time down in Montgomery, coming back in the evening to Charleston and this house. My dad’s family is from a tiny dot on the map on Highway 61 called Handley. An uncle lives just a few miles down the road in Montgomery and we had a reunion at his house. Anyway, if you want to drive up there and catch that view yourself, the house is at 146 Sunset Drive.

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