National Register of Historic Places
The Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House
Designated as 51 West Gravel Lane, the Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House is situated on the eastern boundary of Lot 48 near the center of the town of Romney in Hampshire County, WV. It is composed of three independent structures varying in size, construction, orientation and purpose.
What is assumed to be the oldest building (c. 1750) is a 1 1/2-story, log structure (14' x 16') located at the back of the property. A large stone fireplace dominates the north end, opposite the entrance. The hand-hewn logs have been covered on the exterior with beaded weatherboards, and the gable roof has been sheathed with red cedar shingles. Single, 6/3-light sash windows are located in the center of each of the long sides while two 4-light sash windows in the gable opposite the fireplace illuminate the second level. Interior wall surfaces are painted white; an enclosed stairway opposite the fireplace end provides access to the second floor. The building is assumed to have been used as a kitchen during most of its existence.
Immediately in front of the above unit is a larger (24' x 20'), 1 story building with gable roof. It is of frame construction with brick nagging and covered with weatherboards. A pair of brick chimneys, positioned on the west end and having a connecting pent on the first floor, is the most prominent feature of the building. Except for the location of the chimneys at one end, the exterior is symmetrically arranged. A center door, flanked with 6/6-light sash windows, is positioned on both the front and rear facades. The second level is illuminated by sash windows located in the gable ends; those on the west or chimney end are smaller (4-light) than the 6/6 lights used on the east end. The chimneys provide fireplaces in each of the four rooms found in "the dwelling" and, along with the raised-panel fireplace walls, give the building a far more residential quality than the log structure behind it.
Each floor is comprised of two rooms that traverse the building lengthwise. On both floors the room across the front is long and narrow with the fireplace at the west end. Access to the second level is provided by an enclosed stairway along the east wall of the larger room. The raised paneling of the fireplace wall, opposite the stairway, is relatively simple and includes a pent closet to the left of the segmental-arched fireplace opening. A bolection molding frames the opening, but there is no mantel shelf. A simple cornice with a cavetto molding runs the length of the paneling. Except for the fireplace area, the interior has painted plaster wall surfaces on the first floor and painted flush boards on the second.
The third building in the complex is known as the "clerk's office." It is a. 2 1/2-story,frame structure (14' x 26') with its gable toward the street and entrance on the west (front) elevation. Both the front and rear facades are divided into three bays with 9/9-light sash windows on the first floor and 6/6-light sash windows on the second. The apparent symmetry is subtly violated by locating the entrance in the extreme right bay as well as by varying the spacing between the entrance bay and the other two. It is a rather sophisticated indication of the interior room arrangement. Each floor is divided into a narrow stairhall with an open dog-leg stairway and a large room with paneled fireplace end wall. The paneling on the first floor is exceptional with the segmental-arched fireplace opening framed by a single crossette architrave. The mantel shelf support has the same moldings as the cornice, including a wall-of-Troy motif. Fluted pilasters on raised pedestals separate the wall into three sections: the fireplace with over-mantel and the raised-panel end sections. The paneling on the second level is far simpler, being divided into three sections with raised panels. A mantel shelf with wall-of-Troy motif and a cornice with dentils are the only details. The remaining interior walls are painted plaster.
Fireplace in Main Room of Front Building
The three buildings are very close to each other and have been connected by one-story porches through much of their existence. This has facilitated their use as a unit.
Statement of Significance
The Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House in Romney, Hampshire County, West Virginia, represents a sophistication in building style and design that was unusual, if not unique, in the frontier environment of the area during the second half of the eighteenth century. The complex of three units incorporates construction in log and frame, and includes the use of half-timbered walls with brick nogging in one building. Although the Mytinger family retained the house among its members for the longest period, it was really Andrew Wodrow who completed the grouping of the three sections and provided an association worthy of recounting. He came to Hampshire County during the latter stages of the Revolutionary War or shortly after its close to serve the community as its first resident county clerk. As a key official, Wodrow played an important role in the conveying and settling of lands and apparently was himself a prosperous landholder.
The architecture of the three buildings is representative of a time period spanning much of the early history and development of Romney and what is now eastern West Virginia. During most of the eighteenth century the area was sparsely settled, but with the easing of Indian hostilities and Lord Fairfax' desire to have his Northern Neck lands used, more and more people were enticed to locate here. This soon led to centers of population (such as Romney) being established. After Hampshire County was formed in 1754, Romney became the governmental seat, and Andrew Wodrow took up duties as the first clerk of court to reside in the county. It was Wodrow who built the frame unit (the last of the three) on the property for use as an office, and being located on what was then the main street of town, its function as well as its beauty marked it as a c enter of activity.
Upstairs Fireplace in Front Building
To the people of Hampshire this governmental office might have served as a sign that their community was developing in a manner indicative of the end of a frontier existence and the start of an established position. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Romney and Hampshire County had become a settled area with an agriculturally based economy that maintained a fairly constant growth.
After Lord Fairfax had settled near Winchester, Virginia, he oversaw the selling and settling of his land, and George Washington, one of his surveyors, noted in 1748 that a number of people were living in the vicinity of what is now Romney. According to county records, the first of Fairfax' land was officially sold in what became Hampshire in 1749, but the name of the first person to own or build on the lot on which the House stands has been lost. Reference to the property can be traced to Fairfax' patent to George Wilson in 1763, yet Wilson was not the first owner, for he mentions in his will of 1776 that his lot and house in Romney had been purchased from one Hugh Murphy.
The text is taken from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form of the National Park Service. Photographs by CCHall.
In order to let you have a better sense of what the house might have looked like when it was lived in we include here two pictures taken during Hampshire County Heritage Days 2005. These photos are of a special furniture display set up by Mr. Gene Williams.
The main parlor of the house is above and the upstairs room of the main section is below.