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Crystal Creek Drive Houses

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1930s. 5200 and 5300 blocks of Crystal Creek Dr. (VA 897)

The narrow, winding road along boulder-strewn Back Creek, a bucolic setting framed with rhododendron brakes, proved a perfect lure for Great Depressionera Roanokers in search of inexpensive country living. Here they built rustic cabins and a log roadhouse. All the cabins are of round logs, some saddle-notched and laid horizontally and some set vertically. Most of the white-chinked logs are painted or stained a dark brown, though some were once painted red, green, or light blue, and most of the interiors have either exposed log walls or knotty pine sheathing and are heated by river-washed cobblestone chimneys. These attractive and modest dwellings were not the product of an alternative living experiment or a wilderness colony, but were allied to the back-to-nature aspect of the Arts and Crafts movement of the affluent classes.

Two houses in the 5200 block are built of horizontally laid logs. The Martin Priest House (c. 1938) at number 5269 has an entrance sheltered by a gable-roofed porch with dark-stained log posts. The LWJ House (1936) at number 5213 has a roof made of barrel tops corrugated with a crimping machine. Several houses in the 5300 block are constructed of vertically laid logs. These include the initial portion of the E. R. Muterspaugh House (c. 1943; later additions) at number 5345, the Flora House (1939) at number 5361, the Andrew J. Wright House (1932) at number 5363, and the Chap Patton House (1934) at number 5387. The Muterspaugh House has log porch posts and log brackets supporting its overhanging eaves; the Flora House is set over a weatherboarded basement partially supported by a concrete foundation that incorporates a truck bed for reinforcement; and Wright's house has a front porch that extends from the roof and is supported on log columns.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Crystal Creek Drive Houses", [Cave Spring, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 425-425.

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