LEWISBURG (WVDN) – The Alexander Arbuckle house, located four miles north of Lewisburg on Arbuckle Lane, is now two centuries old.
Built in 1822 by John W. Dunn and Company, builder of many southern style homes in the area, the large red brick house sits on a small knoll overlooking Belle Vue Farm.
The house is built in the shape of a T so the main rooms can have three outside walls. The woodwork of the house was done by master architect Conrod Burgess, who was said to have come from Richmond, Va., where he carved cornices, motifs, and balls around the doors, along with acorns, leaves and stars. His architectural outside work was a second-floor portico, supported by four round white columns with brick inside. Both the portico and the lower front porch are designed with Chinese Chippendale railing. There are smaller fluted columns on each side of the large front door, and over the door are secular glass panes.
Above the brick and under the eve of the house is white dentil molding that runs all along the front. It has cornice trim and hand-carved with acorns, stars and tassels. All the window shutters of the house are green, a common color for early homes in the area.
When you step inside the front door, you are standing in what the Arbuckles call the hall. It is a large room, and like all rooms in the house has a 12-foot ceiling. In the hall is the large, wide, beautiful staircase that winds all the way to the third-floor attic, with a grandfather clock on the landing. Also in the hall are wooden pegs on two walls, where the guests hung their coats and hats, as houses of that time did not have clothes closets. As a boy, I remember the hall was the room where our grandparents Alex and Carrie Arbuckle entertained family and guests in the summertime, and the stairway was a place where my brother Davis, and cousins Johnson, Jane and Alex Lewis and myself as children loved to climb to the third floor and look down to the people below.
Standing in the hall at the front door, and to the left of the stairway is the parlor, which is a front room in the house. It is a large room with large windows, and a large wooden mantel with carvings of two kettles, with a large fan in the center. In the 1960’s our grandmother told me that the wallpaper in the parlor was 100 years old, making it over one 160 old today. Over the antique piano is a large painting of Alexander W. Arbuckle’s wife Julia Bell Arbuckle, which has hung in the parlor for many years.
Another room beside the hall is the master bedroom and was the bedroom of our grandparents Alex and Carrie, as well as two generations of Arbuckles before them. It has a large carved mantel and fireplace, later replaced with a wood burning stove.
The two large front bedrooms upstairs are both with carved mantels and fireplaces. They were mainly used for the many relatives and guests who visited and dined in this old home up through the early 1970s. To the rear of the house are three more upstairs bedrooms, one that has been turned into a living room. It has two elaborative carved shelved cupboards. These tall, beautiful cupboards run from the floor almost to the ceiling. This room also has a large carved mantel with a painting of the house hanging above. This section of the house was occupied by my parents up until I was two years old, and also the room where my mother had her Steinway piano.
Going back downstairs in the hall, a rear doorway leads to the large dining-room. This room is the most elaborately carved room in the house, and its mantel is the largest in the house with large carvings of the sun and its rays. To the right of the mantel is a large glass-door china cupboard, carved in cherry wood. The two tall windows face the west, and have large windowsills and round fluted columns on each side, and all painted a walnut color. Over the windows are carved leaves, stars, and tasseled swags. As a boy, I remember the dining room as the most popular room of the house, as our grandmother Carrie served meals to family and friends at the big eight chaired dining-room table. Thanksgiving, especially Christmas time, was indeed the time to gather and celebrate in this wonderful old family room.
All of the hardware in the house is original. The large brass door boxes were made in England and on them is the British coat of arms, and all have door locks with small brass doorknobs.
As Ruth Woods Dayton stated many years ago in her book, “Greenbrier Pioneers and their Homes,” “The Arbuckle house has had several alternations and additions throughout the years, but for the most part this is an unchanged and truly beautiful house. It is surrounded by fine old trees and has about it a sort of calm dignity and a feeling of things that endure.”
Alexander Welch Arbuckle and his wife Julia Bell Arbuckle occupied the house until the 1880s. Alexander W. Arbuckle II and his wife Elizabeth Creigh Arbuckle occupied until the mid 1920s. Alexander W. Arbuckle III and his wife Carrie Botts Arbuckle occupied until the mid 1970s and Lockhart F. Arbuckle and his wife Jean Miller Arbuckle until 2022. The house is private and the property of John Galford Arbuckle.
Some sources are from Ruth Woods Dayton’s book “Greenbrier Pioneers and their Homes.”