Tour of Homes returns to Virginia Highlands Fest
July 27, 2016The 68th Virginia Highlands Festival invites you explore historic Abingdon, Virginia, while learning about the region's culture and history.
Fifteen of Abingdon's most historic houses will be open on "The Abingdon Historic Homes Tour" event Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All of the properties are within the established downtown historic district within walking distance of each other.
Learn about the architecture and the stories of those who lived in these historic homes which range in date from 1816 up to the 1930s. This tour provides a window into the past as you walk through history in these restored homes.
225 East Main Street: The Bank was built to serve both as residence and business address for the Exchange Bank, established in 1849 with Robert Preston its first cashier. The banker's family lived on the east side of the house. The west side was reserved for banking operations, with a separate entrance, walk-in safe and bars on the windows. Exchange Bank closed many years ago, but it has remained the residence of the Preston and Stuart families, descending to Mr. and Mrs. G.R.C. Stuart. Of special interest are original features of the bank and a portrait of Abingdon's first mayor, John Montgomery Preston.
239 East Main Street: Built in 1886 for Judge John J. Stuart, this brick front-gabled shotgun dwelling was used as his law office until the early 1900s. Its front, which is embellished with decorative details, gives it a Folk Victorian look. Over the years, it has served as an office, residence and a retail store. The shotgun architectural style is often found in its one-story form throughout the South. It is a narrow dwelling with its rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end. Currently it is the residence of Charlotte Sutherland.
360 East Main Street: The elaborate architectural trim embellishing the front pediment and columns for this shotgun-style brick house makes it notable. It was probably built following the Civil War as the law office for John Humes, whose large brick home once stood just to the west. Following his death and the Civil War, a Catholic convent and girls' boarding school known as the Villa Maria occupied the Humes' home. This small structure was built for its priest's office, which was enlarged as a residence during the 20th century. The Villa Maria/Humes house was ultimately removed. This is the residence of Lauren Slone.
120 Court Street: 1872 is the construction date for this front-gabled example of Abingdon's shotgun-style buildings. Of special note is the fan-shaped architectural feature over the front door. It was built as a law office for John W. Johnston, who was also a judge and United States Senator. In 1918, Lewis Preston Summers acquired it, where he wrote his early 20th-century histories of Southwest Virginia. His son Andrew Summers, a musician and musical heritage historian, eventually inherited it and added interior architectural embellishments. It is the studio of portrait painter Tracy Ference.
239 East Valley Street: Built in 1836, this is one of Abingdon's earliest houses. It has remained a residence since it was built by blacksmith and wagon builder, Gabriel Stickley. The clapboard structure with side-gabled roof and a paneled front door with small portico reflects the simple elegance of its vernacular or national style that recalls an earlier Georgian preference. Far from eastern coast trends, styles lingered here longer and also tended to blend with others. Over the years, a rear kitchen area ell has been added, off which is a covered porch and garden. The current owner is Diane Hutchings.
244 East Valley Street: Built in 1916 for D.F. and Della Clark, this Craftsman-style house features many design features common to this early 20th-century house form, such as the side-gabled, overhanging eaves with exposed decorative brackets and a front porch covered by the sloping roof with central dormer. The owners are Gary and Susan Kimbrell, who have painted the exterior in a Craftsman palette and added a folk-art environment in the fenced yard.
171 East Main Street: Wealthy merchant Colonel James White built this Federal-style house in 1819. It was burned in December 1864 during the Civil War and later re-built by Col. White's son, who added the Italianate brackets under the roof eaves, an architectural feature seen on several Main Street homes. At the rear of the property is a brick building originally used as servants' (slave) quarters. White was said to own so much property between Abingdon and Alabama that he never had to spend a night on land he didn't own. Emmitt Yeary is the owner.
Plumb Alley (behind Col. James White's house): Now called the Walnut Grove-Yeary Cabin, this homestead was constructed from multiple original log homes which were moved to this site to form an authentic example of an early working farm, complete with blacksmith shop, kiln, bee hives and outdoor bread oven. Emmitt Yeary is the creator and owner. There will be demonstrations at this site during the tour.
147 East Valley Street: This square brick early 20th-century house is a variation of the Colonial Revival style. Its hipped roof and full-width porch, as well as front door with surrounding lights, are typical design features. It was built in 1909 as the home of Judge Rueben Page, who served with the Washington County Mounted Rifles during the Civil War. It is the second building on this site. The first was the Masonic Hall where the Abingdon Female Institute held its classes until the Hall was destroyed by fire. The owners are Charlene Trulik and Bill Purcer.
132 East Valley Street: This large family home was built in 1876 incorporating the foundation of a smaller 1805 home. Completed around 1880, it had later additions that included the kitchen area and south porch. An interesting aspect of this home is its appearance of two fronts, one facing Valley Street and the other facing Pecan Street. Historically it was the home of the first Methodist Protestant Church minister, Lewis F. Cosby and his descendants. Its owners are Fred and Gypsy Holt.
118 West Valley Street: This front-gabled cottage home, built during the second quarter of the 20th century, is one of several small bungalows on this block of Valley Street, which was Abingdon's first residential neighborhood. Its living spaces were originally increased by a cozy front porch and recently by the addition of a large open porch extending off the back. The lower basement level has also been finished as a useful space for a home office. A new open-air patio along Plumb Alley supplies yet another place for comfortable, informal living. Margaret Hulvey is its owner.
132 West Valley Street: The early 20th century saw the emergence of the smaller American home style known as Craftsman. This 1938 version features a central dormer on the upper half-story. The side-gabled roof slants forward and down to cover an open front porch supported by tapered square columns, typical of this comfortable and livable home design. The owners, Paul and Kelly Read, have recently updated it to feature a large, modern master suite and bath. The lower basement level has been re-purposed to create a work area for potting plants that is handy to the back garden.
107 Park Street: Rick and Susan Humphreys recently restored this 1834 structure, adding an ell to the rear. An empty, abandoned and derelict property before the restoration, many of its architectural features were found and carefully brought back to life. Interesting aspects are its restored front porch, original basement kitchen, stone foundation, clapboard siding. It is now a B&B, the Black Dog Inn.
119 Park Street: Built in 1840, this is another restoration by Rick and Susan Humphreys. It also features an ell addition. Completed in 2003, many architectural details were saved and restored, including mantels, doors, windows and casements, floors, baseboards and stairs. The property is utilized for vacation rentals and is known as A Tailor's Lodging, recalling the tailor business of the original 19th-century owners.
153 West Main Street: This example of romantic architecture in the late 19th-century Italianate style was built in 1879. It was the home of Letty Floyd Johnson, the daughter of one Virginia governor, John Floyd, and sister to another, John B. Floyd. Of note are its arched and hooded windows and four small porches, two on the main ground floor and two above them, each featuring a small cupola-style roof tower. It was sold out of the Floyd family in 1882 to a succession of residential owners. In recent years, a rear addition enabled its use as a retail book store, and most recently it has been the business office for an energy company.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the festival's website ahead of time or at The Bank at 225 East Main Street or the Read house at 132 West Valley Street, Aug. 6.
To learn more about the Virginia Highlands Festival and this year's events, visit www.vahighlandsfestival.org.
153 West Main
119 Park Street