Valley View in Hampshire County Listed on the National Register
In addition to the Brick House in Springfield, I also prepared the National Register nomination for Valley View, an 1855 Greek Revival mansion located near Romney, WV. Valley View is the home of Bob and Kim Mayhew, another couple of fantastic historic-home owners who bent over backwards to help me with my research. They also let me investigate every nook and cranny of their home, and in true West Virginia small-world fashion, we discovered that Bob knew my late grandfather from our family limestone quarry business outside of Romney.
Valley View was built in 1855 by James A. “Big Jim” Parsons, Jr.. Big Jim’s father James and his mother Catherine Casey both came from prominent families that owned thousands of acres in Hampshire County. Big Jim’s inheritance was a large tract of land; he moved onto it in 1829, around the time he married Elizabeth Miller. Big Jim was known as an honorable and upstanding citizen in the community. He and his wife had 11 children, many of whom attended college. In 1855, he built his grand farm estate home in the latest fashionable architectural style, Greek Revival. For a prominent land owner, the formality and grand proportions of a Greek Revival home would have been a social and financial statement. The Parsons children made their own mark on the house in the form of graffiti on the attic stairwell structure. Well, one man’s graffiti is an historian’s valuable significant historic feature!
Unfortunately, the construction of the home caused a financial burden upon the Parsons family, and Big Jim was only able enjoy his home for three years before he died of tuberculosis. His wife and children remained until 1869, then sold the property to Charles and Elizabeth Harmison. It was Elizabeth who gave the house the very appropriate name “Valley View.” The house remained in the Harmison family until 1979 when the Mayhews bought it.
As only the third owners, the Mayhews have remained devoted to preserving the historic nature of the building while updating it for modern use. In the field of historic preservation, there can be a perception that historic homes should be frozen in time as museums. It is always heartening to have examples of homeowners who have kept a house vibrant and alive as a comfortable home while acting as responsible stewards of the past. (On that note, please remember that Valley View is a private home and is not open to the public. You can always find more pictures in the National Register nomination.)
Valley View is an exemplary local mid-19th century home with deep ties to historicallyimportant families in the South Branch Valley. The house’s Greek Revival design and excellent integrity convey a value of prosperity, formality and order, combined with an appreciation of the surrounding land. The house is locally significant under Criterion C for architecture. You can read the National Register nomination by clicking here.