Brookside Resort in Aurora, WV Approved for National Register
I’ve been working on a National Register nomination for the former Brookside Resort in Aurora, WV since last summer and I’m pleased to announce that my nomination was approved by the WV Archives and History Commission last Friday, March 1! It now goes to the National Park Service for technical review and I expect it will be officially listed in a couple of months. However, getting it through the State Historic Preservation Staff and approved by the commission is the key step, so we are very excited to be moving forward.
This project and site is near and dear to my heart. I grew up less than a mile away and my summer internship for my graduate degree was making measured drawings of the Brookside cottages. The National Register nomination is an exciting step for the Aurora Project, a non-profit group that is rehabilitating some of the historic buildings for use as a writers’ and artists’ retreat. The National Register listing opens new avenues for preservation of this wonderful site!
Brookside Resort was established in 1882 by Wilmer Vale, a tax clerk from Washington DC. It was only a ten-mile carriage ride from the B&O railroad station in Oakland, Maryland, which made it convenient for city-dwellers from DC, Baltimore, Cleveland and other points. In the days before air conditioning, guests were drawn to the cool mountain air. The clean, picturesque country surroundings also provided an escape from the factories and grime of post-Industrial Revolution cities.
Harriet and Leander McBride of Cleveland acquired the resort around 1898. Lee McBride was a prominent businessman and partner in Root & McBride wholesale company. The McBrides built an Arts and Crafts style summer home called Gaymont and operated the resort with the help of employee Emma Kirkpatrick into the 1920s. Brookside Resort offered activities including croquet, horseback riding, boating and fishing on its own pond, bowling, dancing and other pastimes. The resort had its own farm to supply meat, dairy and vegetables. Guests stayed in the hotel (no longer standing) or one of nine cottages and enjoyed walks in the Brookside Woods, one of the only remaining stands of virgin hemlock forests in the country.
The Brookside Resort National Register Historic District includes Gaymont (now the Brookside Inn B&B), 5 of the original cottages, the Brookside Woods (now Cathedral State Park), the Brookside Farm (a private farm and residence) and the Red Horse Tavern.
Stay tuned for more info on the Brookside Historic District and the Aurora Project, including a link to the final approved nomination in a few months.