By William “Skip” Deegans, Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission
Many Greenbrier Countians have stepped inside “The Westly,” but few, if any, knew it had a history until Rose Thornton saw it. Thornton, a nationally-recognized expert on kit homes, immediately realized it was an early version of a Sears Roebuck home known as The Westly. Most locals knew it only as the West Virginia University Extension Office.
The house was built about 1925 and was bought by the Greenbrier County Court in 1941. After the county purchased it, the house continued as a residence until it was converted into an office for the extension service. A few years ago it was vacated and has quickly deteriorated because of neglect.
The house is located next to the county courthouse and a proposed expansion of the courthouse would have caused the house to be razed. Last year, the Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission (LHLC) served as an intermediary with the President of the County Commission and a local realtor to move the house to a lot about a block away. Since then, the commissioners have shifted their thinking around to preserving and using the house for offices for a county program and moving the courthouse expansion to the rear instead of the side.
Fortunately, The Westly is much like it was when it was first erected. Even though it was used as offices for much of its life, the floor plan has changed very little. All of the original interior woodwork, including lovely double doors and hardwood floors, are intact. All of the windows are believed to be original.
The most immediate needs of the house include new asphalt shingles on the roof and painting. The LHLC has encouraged the county to submit an application to WV State Historic Preservation Office for a matching grant to make these repairs. While Lewisburg is well known for its large colonial and Victorian homes, The Westly represents an important post-WWI period in Lewisburg’s history when companies like Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Aladdin offered folks an affordable well-designed home built of quality materials.
For more information about “The Westly” check out Rose’s great article: http://www.searshomes.org/index.php/2013/03/03/save-the-westly-in-lewisburg-wv/
For more information on the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit http://pawv.org/endangedlist2013.htm.