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Varner–Erskine–Mason House

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1820, attrib. John Weir, with later additions. 225 N. Court St. (south of intersection with Arbuckle Lane)

Henry Erskine bought this two-story brick house in 1829. He died in Monterey, Mexico, in 1847, and his remains now lie in the Old Stone Church cemetery under a monument designed by Alexander Jackson Davis (see GR1). Silas B. Mason, a railroad contractor, bought the house in 1881 and began embellishing it with architectural features he admired on his many travels. Despite its many additions, the house proves how Lewisburg's basic architectural conservatism has prevailed over the years. A projecting wing, iron railings, porch, two-over-two sash, and dormered mansard roof obviously postdate the original construction, but in spite of the changes, the overall ambience is still that of an early-nineteenth-century house.

Clearly there was something in the Mason genes that loved to tinker with buildings and their materials. In 1924 Silas's son, William H. Mason, figured out how to explode wood chips into fiber instead of burning them as waste byproducts from sawmill operations. Two years later he founded the Mason Fibre Company, which began manufacturing Masonite, a durable fiberboard that became a popular building product. Advertised as the “board of a thousand uses,” Masonite is used primarily for exterior and interior finishing.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.
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Citation

S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Varner–Erskine–Mason House", [Lewisburg, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WV-01-GR8.

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