“Homes Among the Hills” is an apt title for the 2023 Home Tour sponsored by the Greenbrier Historical Society on June 10, 2023 with the opening reception on Jun. 9. After all, the Native Americans called this area “home” long before white settlers arrived. The white settlers, and the enslaved Black people they brought with them, created their own versions of home including structures and culture. All of this has blended together to create “home” as we know it today in the Muddy Creek Valley of Greenbrier County.
Al Emch, Vice President of the Greenbrier Historical Society, has called these events “a magical mystery history tour” and he is also apt in his description.
The weekend will open with a reception at the 1834 Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia Law Library and Study building and the Enslaved Quarters /Rhoda’s House beside it located at 200 Courtney Drive, Lewisburg. The reception begins at 7:30 p.m. on June 9 and includes the opportunity to explore both buildings as well as view amazing art and indulge in some food and drink.
Roanoke artist Chuck Carroll is known for his depictions of the First People who called this area “home.” Following classes in sculpture at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. while a teenager, a degree from UVA and traditional jobs, he somehow became a sculptural potter. The difficulty of making a living in that career, plus a lot of air travel in his new one, created the opportunity for him to express himself through drawing. His interest in Native American myths and lifestyles led to his choice of Native Americans as subject matter. His drawings of Native Americans who might have roamed the Muddy Creek Valley will be displayed in the Law Library along with those of Native Americans from further afield.
Henry St. George Tucker was the first President of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia to hold court in Lewisburg after the Virginia State Assembly decree that a 90-day session of that court would be held here to better serve the people in the area across the mountains. Judge Tucker plans to make an appearance and talk about his experiences in what was his “home” for about 90 days every year during his tenure from 1831 to 1841.
The 1836 Enslaved Quarters/Rhoda’s House was moved to its present location from the Johnson Reynolds property lately occupied by the Greenbrier County Board of Education. While many enslaved workers of the time cannot be identified or named, it is known that Rhoda was a cook for the Reynolds family and likely used this building as her “home.”
Saturday, June 10 will contain the more traditional home tour activities. This year they are child and family friendly. Taking place in the Muddy Creek Valley between its tributaries Kitchen Creek and Mill Creek from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., this tour will include “homes” from a Native American Habitat at the Arbuckle Fort Preserve to the newly restored Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion where the rich and famous once strolled. Included are a stone house built circa 1795 in the most beautiful setting imaginable and a log, frame, and new construction home dating from circa 1860. Agriculture was the dominant economic activity in this area and a display of antique tractors and equipment, hosted at this site by the Tahoe Antique Tractor Club, will add to the historic scene.
Because of the nature of this home tour, the access is via country roads with lots of twists and turns. Most are paved and all are in fine condition, but many are one lane and there is some gravel. Please drive slowly and carefully and watch out for other motorists. Guests will also be visiting working farms with some uneven ground, so comfortable shoes are advised.
Tickets are virtual and available on-line at greenbrierhistorical.org and at the North House Museum at 814 Washington Street West, Lewisburg. A combination ticket for the Opening Reception on June 9 and the Home Tour on June 10 is $100. An individual ticket for the Opening Reception is $75; the Home Tour ticket is $30 in advance and $40 day-of for adults and $10 any time for those 18 years old or younger.
If you have purchased your ticket on-line, just check in at the welcome table located at each of the Home Tour locations to get your wrist band, driving tour book with map, and special day-of event insert. All locations are accessible off I-64 and then Route 12 at Spring Valley Road and Blaker’s Mill Road between Alta and Alderson. Just look for the large bright electronic signs at those roads saying “Home Tour” with an arrow pointing the way. The sites are also easy to find using google maps on your phone with the addresses on the GHS website. Just choose one and get started!
Margaret Hambrick, chair of the Home Tour Committee, said, “We are so excited to help our visitors understand the Native American presence in our area, appreciate the contributions of enslaved workers, be inspired by gorgeous homes, and enjoy wagon loads of history. Please join us for this most unusual home tour experience.”