A doorway to the past

doorknobdoorknob2doorknob3When  I bought my house a year ago, I inherited a barn full of old materials. Some of these I suspect came from a house that stood on the neighboring property from between circa 1840 and 1920.

The house is a bit of a mystery because there is almost no sign of its existence. The previous owners of my house also had the neighboring lot, and they explain that there is a foundation from the old home, but it is buried under dirt and foliage.

What I know about the house I have pieced together from a few sources. First, the octogenarians who grew up on the property told me that the house (or “hotel” as they call it) burned down sometime in the 1920s, before they were born. They know a few facts about it: the main door faced west towards the old road, it had a wrap-around porch, and sometime before it burned down it also had a telephone (no mean feat for a property in 1920s West Virginia).

The second source for information about the house is only an indirect source: early property documents that speak of the Powell family, and evidence that Robert M. Powell was a substantial businessman and politician who once served in the Virginia House of Delegates. I surmise that Robert M. Powell built a large house sometime in the peak of his working years in the 1840s or 1850s, and that this house served as a hotel for travelers on the back roads.

Today, I replaced a door to my house with what might be a door from the old hotel. I can only speculate about its origins, but I like to think that it is a doorway to the 19th century.

I polished the hinges, sanded and stained the wood door and fitted some new (old!) doorknobs.

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