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Henderson Hall

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1836. 1856–1859, J. M. Slocumb. Southeast side of Wood County 21/2 (Old River Rd.), .3 mile southwest of the intersection with WV 14, 2 miles southwest of Williamstown

This elaborate antebellum mansion, architecturally reminiscent of plantations of the deep South, exemplifies the particularly florid variety of the Italianate style that has often been called—albeit incorrectly—“Steamboat Gothic.” Henderson Hall is in almost pristine condition, its original furnishings and decorations are largely intact, and the original drawings (by an architect from nearby Marietta, Ohio) have been preserved. Still owned by descendants of the builder, it is open for scheduled tours.

The Henderson family first built a log house, replacing it in 1836 with a two-story, gable-ended brick house that forms the rear wing of the present mansion. They named the house Pohick Hall, after the Fairfax County neighborhood in eastern Virginia where they lived before moving westward. When George Washington Henderson completed the front section in 1859, the name Henderson Hall superseded Pohick. The main portion, which dwarfs the earlier house, is a three-story rectangular block. Walls are brick, but foundations and front porch columns are of sandstone quarried nearby. Ornate wooden brackets that extend downward to the center of the third floor level support broad eaves on all four elevations. The roof, a shallow deck-on-hip, is topped with a large, multi-windowed wooden belvedere with its own bracketed hipped roof.

Henderson Hall lords it over the immediate vicinity from a broad level terrace high above the river valley. A number of early outbuildings remain in the extensive curtilage surrounding the house, as do three prehistoric mounds. The most prominent of these, 8 feet high and 25 feet in diameter, gives ample proof that the Hendersons were not the first to inhabit the site. Across West Virginia 14, to the southwest, a cast iron fence surrounds the family cemetery, which contains notable funerary monuments.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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