Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
Friday, July 14, 2000

The sequel to 'a tale of twin houses'


BOB'N'ALONG by Bob Stealey
EDITOR
 

Today is when I resume the story about the "twin houses," located just off four-lane U.S. Route 50 at the Jarvisville exit, as promised in my column Wednesday. I had received some information from Bertha M. Webb of Route 4, Salem, about the landmarks.
Now, as Paul Harvey says, here's the rest of the story. Mrs. Webb said the two mammoth houses have a cut stone foundation about 18 inches thick with 10-foot ceilings in the downstairs and nine-foot ceilings in the upstairs. All the woodwork is made from oak with 10-inch baseboards throughout the house, with wide, hand-carved decorator tops on all the doors and windows. There were transoms above each door downstairs to allow for adequate ventilation and curved glass in the turret windows.
"Each room has a mantle, with the exception of the kitchen. Each mantle is seven feet tall, but different with some being curved and some being straight; some with hand-carved decoration and some plain. A great deal of effort had to have gone into the hand-turned ballisters which grace the long flight of 16 stairs leading up to the second story.  "The downstairs of each one had a living room, dining room, kitchen, parlor, foyer. ... All are oversized and, although there was no bathroom, there was provided a 'chamber' room in both the downstairs and the upstairs. Upstairs are four bedrooms, a foyer, a large walk-in clother's press and linen storage area."
She explained that gas lights hang from the ceiling, adorning the walls, each with its own little pilot light allowing for simply pulling a chain to light and another chain to turn it off. She added that each house had a sleeping porch in the second story for hot summer nights and that no access was made from the ground level for these porches, only through the bedrooms. Small front porches with round-turned columns looked out over the front yards that extended out about 300 feet across a small dirt lane in front of the houses. A variety of trees provided shade and blossoms in the summer. The lane extended down in front of the houses with a circular turn around a giant oak tree.  "Hiram Lynch became the owner of these houses in 1906 after the death of his father, William B. Lynch," Mrs. Webb said. "His mother, Mary Catharine Lynch, died on Aug. 20, 1916. Hiram Lynch was married to Susan Virginia Ritter in 1894. She was born on May 31, 1869, a daughter of Capt. John Ritter and Nancy Jean Morris. They were the parents of eight children."   The children's names and birth dates were: Berda, June 24, 1896; Anna, Oct. 24, 1897; Edmond Ritter Lynch, Aug. 24, 1899; Hiram Wilson Lynch, Jan. 3, 1904; Frank Colvin Lynch, March 11, 1906; Catherine, April 21, 1909; Allen Bailey Lynch, Feb. 25, 1911, and Harriet, Dec. 31, 1912. Hiram Lynch died Sept. 2, 1914, when Harriet was only 18 months old, and was buried in the family plot behind the church alongside his parents, William B. and Mary C. Lynch. Death records show the cemetery as being in the community of Maken, or Lynchburg as it was known at the time.   Mrs. Webb continued, "He made and lost several fortunes in his lifetime, having been an oilman, postmaster, merchant, cattleman and a gambler. During the next 10 years, Susie struggled to maintain finances, so on Sept. 24, 1924, made a deed to her oldest daughter Berta and Berta's husband, Stanley Butler, whom she had married in 1920, for approximately 318 acres, which included the house in the westerly direction. Berta and Stanley lived in the westerly house and Susie and her remaining at-home children lived in the easterly. Berta and Stanley were to pay off the indebtedness against the land in return."  To summarize the remainder of Mrs. Webb's information, Frank Colvin bought the home place from the older brothers and sisters in 1959. Since he lived in New York City, he had the home place boarded up to prevent vandals from entering, 'though it remained full of his mother's antiques.  On Oct. 16, 1970, a land contract sale was made "from Berta and Stanley Butler to Earl and Belva Junkins, in which approximately 318 acres was transferred." The house owned by Berta and Stanley then became a rental until the time of his death March 24, 1981, when it was left to his sister, Catherine. Her husband, Corder Teter, became seriously ill and the property was sold to Charles "Bud" and Bertha Webb in April 1985. "The Webbs were close friends with other members of the Lynch family and live in the old family home today," Mrs. Webb wrote. "The church on the hill has been torn down and its stained glass windows and mahogany pews moved to other churches elsewhere. The cemetery has been neglected for many years."  But the Webbs have restored the old family home in hopes of bringing back some of its yesteryear eloquence.
 
 

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
Monday, September 11, 2000


Twin houses; one rich history

by Kelly Rohrbough
CORRESPONDENT

It's a tale of two houses.
Most people heading west on U.S. Route 50 can't help but notice the "Twin" houses, a pair of Victorian homes that sit side-by-side next to the Jarvisville Road exit.  And that's just on the surface. The history of these 101-year-old giants is just as intriguing.
The land on which the houses were built was just a small portion of several hundred acres that William Burnside Lynch and his wife, Mary C. Lambert owned. It was rich in minerals, especially oil. Behind the houses, the Tenmile Creek ran through the back yard, said Bertha Webb, owner of the house that's closer to Jarvisville Road.  This land had one of the area's first two churches. The church was built of logs and named Mount Morris Episcopal Church. It was eventually torn down to make way for a new building that was built on an acre of land the Lynches sold to the Methodist Church in 1858, said Mrs. Webb.  In 1899, Lynch built the Twin houses for his daughters, Anna and Byrd. The houses were completed in 1901, but Lynch died before they were finished. Their ownership went to Lynch's son, Hiram, instead of the girls, by a deed that had been made, said Mrs. Webb.
Hiram married Susan Virginia Ritter in 1894 and the couple had eight children. He had various careers throughout his life, including oilman, merchant and postmaster, she said.  After Hiram's death in 1914, Susan was left in charge of the houses. In 1924 she had a deed made to her oldest daughter, Berta, and the girl's husband, Stanley Butler. This included 318 acres and the house farthest from Jarvisville Road. The Butlers lived in this house while Susan and the remaining children at home lived in the other, said Mrs. Webb.
Susan died in 1958 and her son, Frank Colvin, took over the house from his brothers and sisters. He divided his time between West Virginia and New York, where he also lived and worked. To prevent robbers from stealing his mother's antiques, he had the house boarded up, she said.  In 1970, an unrecorded land contract was made from the Butlers to Earl and Belva Junkins. With this contract, 318 acres was transferred, but included the church's property, its cemetery and 5 acres that were given to Berta's brother Allen, said Mrs. Webb.  This house remained a rental until it was purchased by Alfred and Pamela Taber in 1986, said Mr. Taber. His wife grew up in the hollow behind the houses and would drive past them frequently. She admired them very much and eventually the couple acquired the house, he said.  Frank Lynch lived in the easterly house until his death in 1981. Through his will, this house went to his sister Catherine and her husband, Corder Teter. After Corder became ill, it was sold to Charles and Bertha Webb in 1985. The two families had been close friends since the 1950s, she said.  Today the church on the hill has long been torn down and its cemetery is hidden from view.  Meanwhile, the Webbs' house has been restored to its Victorian elegance. Walking through the door takes one back to another era.  Each room possesses its own unique fireplace, all the mantels handcrafted by local craftsmen. The newly added porch was built with traditional round columns found under the Lynch family's barn. Above each door, panes of glass open and close, a reminder to a time before air conditioners.  The "Twin houses" are all that remains of the Lynch family dynasty.
Perhaps from his final resting place in the old cemetery, tucked away on the hill, William B. Lynch knows that although his family is gone, the legacy of the "Twin houses" lives on.
 
 

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