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Weston

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Weston was established in 1818 as the seat of justice for Lewis County. Colonel Edward Jackson, “Stonewall's” grandfather, platted the townsite. Construction of the StauntonParkersburg Turnpike brought a number of Irish laborers in the 1830s and 1840s, and the town became a major stopover for travelers.

Jonathan M. Bennett established the first bank, a branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, in 1852. Bennett, who soon became Virginia's state auditor, used his influence to promote Weston as the site of the commonwealth's proposed Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Weston won handily over other contenders when the institution's commissioners came on an inspection tour in 1858. Earlier that year, at Bennett's suggestion, the town council passed an order directing owners to whitewash all fences and unpainted houses. The hospital's construction brought a number of Italian stonemasons to town and inaugurated another period of growth and development. Bennett's own house ( LW8), built during the years he served in the West Virginia senate (1872–1876), reflected his continuing status as Weston's leading citizen and one of the state's most prominent individuals.

Fires played an all too prominent role in the town's early development. So many conflagrations ravaged the business section that Weston adopted a building code in 1889 modeled on the one that Chicago established after its 1871 fire. Solid masonry structures built after the regulations went into effect still give a remarkable unity and coherence to downtown's Main Avenue. The fact that so many commercial structures were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflects more than just the adoption of a fire code. Discovery of oil and gas deposits precipitated a turn-of-the-century boom. Weston was soon linked by interurban trolley to Clarksburg. Although this system of transport lasted into the 1950s, over the years it benefited Clarksburg more than Weston. Weston's population peaked in 1950 at 8,945. In 2000, the population was 4,317.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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