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J. Sidna and Bettie Mitchell Allen House

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1911, J. Sidna Allen and Bettie Mitchell Allen; Preston Dickens, carpenter. 5935 Fancy Gap Hwy.

Built for merchant Allen and his wife, Bettie, this exuberant wooden house is a mere eight rooms but seems much larger as it bristles with turrets, dormers, gables, cresting, and finials. A wraparound porch with a conical-roofed circular gazebo-like corner adds to the house's picturesque outline. Ornamental vergeboards, brackets, fish-scale shingles, and other woodwork cloak the house in a rich textural tapestry. Unfortunately, Allen did not live here long, for he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in a shoot-out in 1912 in the Hillsville courthouse. Shortly after Allen was sentenced, the house was seized by government authorities and auctioned. During his prison tenure, Allen built elaborately inlaid and carved furniture from scrap wood, similar in form to his self-designed house. Following his release in 1926, Allen traveled around the state displaying his woodwork, which is still often displayed in folk art exhibitions in Virginia.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Anne Carter Lee

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