You will love what you see at The General Lewis Inn at Lewisburg, WV

June 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Best Road Trips

It is still beautiful the second time around

The General Lewis Inn – Lewisburg, WV

Greetings again friends, this is Bill Taylor writing about a road trip we enjoyed. This was our second time to stay at the General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg, WV. The last time we were here was during Thanksgiving holiday season. The Inn was decorated for the season. Carved pumpkins and straw men aided by colorful decorations dressed the entrance and front yard of this stately historic property. These folks are on top of what’s happening in every season.

The General Lewis has good-sized rooms with all the amenities and The General Lewis Restaurant attracts travelers as well as locals. This is a very nice place to stay.

Lewisburg’s city limit sign boasts that Lewisburg is, “The coolest little town in America.” Although that is a highly subjective claim, this is one of the coolest little towns you will ever visit, and it is a beautiful bustling little town. Historic buildings, stellar B&Bs, motels, malls, fast food and gourmet dining are found on streets that scream gentility. All these, and more, are found in a town which, by its size,  should not be able to boast such fine features.

The house containing The General Lewis Inn was built in 1834 by John Withrow for his family. It was a  smaller house than the one which is now the inn. The original house remains as part of the current building. The original house serves as the kitchen and dining room of the B&B, as well as two guest rooms above that area.  The rest of the inn was added in 1925 when Mr Morgan became the owner. He filled every part of the inn with incredibly beautiful, mostly local antiques.

When the idea of a hotel on this location was first spawned by Mr and Mrs Morgan, mortgages for such risky ventures did not meet the local bank’s mortgage criteria. So, the Morgan family raised the money to buy the house and expand it to its present size. A prominent architect, William Martens, was employed to assure that the addition would comply fully with the older part, the original house. An outbuilding, which was built at the time of the first building, was torn down and its timbers became part of the new hotel.

The elder couple operated the General Lewis Inn until their deaths in 2011. The inn is currently being run by their children who have a strong sense of responsibility to continue the traditions begun by their parents.

Memory Hall

The elder Mr Morgan loved to buy antiques. In the early days, he would set out into the countryside to buy milk, eggs and butter, and would return with other treasures he discovered along the way. Some of his ‘finds’ are placed in a hall off the lobby. ‘Memory Hall’ is a testimony to his avid love of every old item he could find. The hall is a menagerie of tools, farm implements, shoe lasts, small boxes and baskets. You will lose yourself for quite a while if you wander into this hall. I have a photo of this wall that I’ll post in this article. Mr Morgan found a Nickelodeon which actually plays, he modified it to look like an antique although at the time it wasn’t. My granddaughters loved it.

Every piece of furniture in the inn is a legitimate antique. Someone mused that, when you sleep here, you are sleeping in a museum. The current owners invented some applied ingenuity to alter the bed sizes to match modern queen bed size, without affecting their status as genuine antiques. If you were not aware of the modification, you would not likely notice it.

Backyard of General Lewis Inn

When the General Lewis opened there were no bathrooms in the rooms. This has been corrected and desk clerks no longer have to say “the bathroom’s down the hall.” The bathrooms are a tad small, but that’s a slight inconvenience to preserve the original style and beauty of the home. The wiring and plumbing has all been brought up to current building codes. These changes make The General Lewis Inn a safer and more comfortable place to stay.

Step out the back door of the Inn and you enter a beautiful garden. If you enjoy taking a book outside in early light, this is an ideal place. This isn’t Bellingrath Gardens, but it is well conceived and properly cared for.

Politicians, power brokers, families who hated the heat of  Washington DC and salesmen who traveled though here peddling wares, were the target boarders when The General Lewis Inn first opened. The high elevation of the West Virginia mountains lowers the temperature well below the swelter of our nations capital. (If you have ever been to D C in the summer I don’t have to explain.) Many still come here to retreat from the heat.

Downtown Lewisburg, WV

As amazing and entertaining as The General Lewis is, you will want to venture into the town of Lewisburg, WV. Be prepared to be impressed. This is truly a “cool” city.

I don’t recall another small city with as many big city features. 

From early days the town had a stable economy and two secondary schools in addition to the public school. There is no coal in this county, so the mountains of this region escaped strip mining for coal and it was primarily a farming community. Three major highways; US 219, US 60 and Interstate-64 converge upon Lewisburg, WV. It’s easy to get here. US 60 is a vaunted scenic road which I have not yet traveled, but look forward to driving.

Looking down Washington Street from the front on the General Lewis, you can almost hear voices calling you to come explore the downtown area. Listen to those voices, because they are absolutely harmless and only want you to browse among some of the most interesting stores and historic buildings in that part of America. Towns like this are what we at America Road Trip really enjoy. I think you will too.

Lewisburg, WV is the county seat of Greenbriar County, WV. The Greenbriar Resort is located in this county, but is too rich for my blood. If you are fortunate to be one of the rich elite, you might want to check it out. It has hosted every seated president since it first opened. The area has multiple attractions which space does not permit to mention. This is a great area for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, white water rafting. Check them out at the Greenbriar County, WV website and see other available attractions.

This little town has 4,000 people, give or take a few. But the residents are extremely proud of their town. Yards are well kept, streets are mostly smooth and sidewalks and bike paths are evident in much of the town. Named for Andrew Lewis, a surveyor who first came here in 1751, the town has a long and distinguished history. Lewisburg, WV was formally established in 1782.

Here’s a list of things you’ll want to see

The historic district is the heart of Lewisburg. Buildings of architectural interest date back to 1794.

The Old Stone Presbyterian Church was built in 1796 of native limestone. It is the oldest church still in continuous use west of the Allegheny Mountains. The church is located at 200 Church Street. During the Civil War battle fought here in 1862, this building served as a hospital for injured troops.

Carnegie Hall – Lewisburg, WV

Carnegie Hall, built in 1902, from a donation by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie is one of only three such structures in America. In 1983, the community raised $3 million dollars to restore and renovate it. It is in regular use for varied musical, dramatic and cultural presentations.

Mt Tabor Baptist Church was built in 1796. It is located across from the Old Stone Presbyterian Church.

Established in 1820, The John Wesley Church is a historic building and church. The church is still in use by a local congregation. On the north wall (outside) small signs point to where the stairway once stood for slaves to enter. Adjacent to that, a sign points to where a cannonball once struck the church during the Civil War. The inside is well decorated and preserved. The pews may be original installation, but have had padding added to the seats. The church has a large balcony indicating it once housed a large congregation.

The area is especially open to bikers and hikers. There is a very good bicycle store in town. Hill and Holler Bicycle Works, in downtown Lewiston, thrives on the business of local bikers and itinerate bikers who come to the area to enjoy its excellent biking/hiking trails. An old mountain railroad roadway has been improved for bikers and hikers and attracts thousands to Greenbriar County each year. Merrick Tracy at the bicycle store is an avid rider and his enthusiasm for the sport makes him a trove of information for bikers.

John Wesley Methodist Church Brickhouse Antiques – 123 Washington St

I haven’t mentioned shopping. We only browsed around in town. Out of town near the major highways you can find all the chain stores, fast food restaurants, motels and 7/11 stores you could want. In town stores consist of regular merchants like hardware, drugs, groceries, furniture etc. But among them you find an interesting array ranging from organic foods, and Yoga to pure souvenir  shops. My wife especially liked Brick House Antiques.

There’s no way to cover it all. There is a very good Bluegrass band that calls Lewisburg home. The Brown Cow Brown Bag String Band From West Virginia, is their name. We stumbled on these guys in New Orleans a couple of years ago. They were standing in an alcove of a closed business on Decatur Street. I bought one of their albums on the spot. I bet you weren’t expecting the music feature, were you? If Bluegrass isn’t your cup of moonshine, there’s plenty more for you. Just go to Lewisburg, WV and you’ll find what scratches where you itch.

We’ve got to head back south now. Here’s my road trip tip for today. “Keep it between the ditches.” Keep rolling up miles and dialing up smiles. Here at AmericaRoadTrip.net we don’t count miles … we count smiles. This place will make you smile.

Y’all come back now!

Bill Taylor

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