One of Buchanan’s best known pre Civil War Era structures is the Wilson Warehouse. Completed in 1839 for John S. Wilson as a combined store, warehouse and private residence the structure is still in use today. The John S. Wilson Company was the chief shipper and receiver of goods during “Canal Days” when Buchanan acted as the western terminus of the James River & Kanawha Canal.
The Wilson Warehouse remained in the family for almost a century. Ownership of the Wilson Warehouse passed from John S. Wilson to his son, Charles L. Wilson and daughter, Anna L. Allen, then passed to her children Anna L. and Edwin W. Edwin purchased the house outright, renovated the large storeroom on the west side of the house and turned this room over to the Village Improvement Society for thier use in 1927. The image to the left shows the 1855 Edward Beyer painting of the Town of Buchanan. This painting was owned by the Wilson family and is now owned by the Town Improvement Society who also own the Wilson Warehouse/Community House.
In 1936, Oscar Caperton Huffman, president of Continental Can Companypurchased the Wilson Warehouse. After extensive renovations of the House under the direction of architect, Stanhope Johnson of Lynchburg, Mr. Huffman presented the building to the Village Improvement Society. On April 30, 1938. Members of the Village Improvement Society known today as the Town Improvement Society, and 300 guest gathered at the historic building for its dedication as the “Community House”. Since that time, the Community House has been an important historic landmark and social center of the community. The image at the top shows the house immediately following restoration by the Huffman family and the image the the right shows Oscar Huffman, Lucy Beal Huffman and thier son O.B. Huffman and son in law Ralph C. Smith at the dedication.
The historic brick structure features a center hall passage flanked by one large room on the west side and two equal sized rooms on the east side. The building has two front doors because the left side was used as the Wilson’s business and the other was used as the Wilson’s private residence. The top floor retains the original elevator system used to hoist cargo for storage. All of the rooms retain their original woodwork, floors, fireplaces and mantels. Of special note are the original carpenter locks and brass hardware on the doors throughout the house. In the front hall you can see the mechanics for the original doorbell as well as the winding staircase making its way up three flights, all of these details exemplify the craftsmanship of the period.
The image above shows the Wilson Warehouse/Community House as it looks today. This Civil War landmark is one of the four stopping points in Buchanan which are included on the Hunter’s Raid Civil War Trail www.huntersraid.org .
Since 1938 to help with maintenance of this important landmark, the Buchanan Town Improvement Society has rented the Wilson Warehouse/Community House for wedding receptions, anniversary parties, family reunions, and public meetings. The house is also open by apointment for tours throughout the year, and, is open for tour as part of the annual Candlelight Christmas Home Tour in December. To find out about renting this historic home for your celebration, to schedule a tour, or, to get tickets for the Christmas Home Tour, please call (540) 613 – 4402.