Work begins on historic Law Library in downtown Lewisburg

PRESS RELEASE:

Restoration work on the 1834 Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia Law Library and adjacent 1835 Rhoda’s House (enslaved quarters) buildings located across from the North House Museum in downtown Lewisburg has begun!  These historic buildings are owned by the City of Lewisburg and entrusted to the Greenbrier Historical Society under a long-term lease.  The Society has embarked upon a three-year project to bring them back to their original condition and configurations so that they may join the other historic properties that the Society is proud to maintain and present to the public (which include the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion, the Barracks, and the North House Museum and Archives).  

Al Emch, President of the Greenbrier Historical Society, said, “We are beyond excited to have this work begin.  We are one step closer to being able to tell the story of these important buildings and have them reflect the times in which they were so significant.”

Some initial work has already been done on the interior of both buildings, but the dramatic and transformative exterior renovation has just started.  It is being done by Buckeye Construction & Restoration of Waterford, Ohio.  This work involves removing the notable pink (or salmon colored) paint from the Law Library building to reveal the underlying original brick.  Once that is accomplished, damaged areas will be repaired and the brick will be completely repointed with period-correct mortar; finally, the windows will be refurbished and new shutters installed on both buildings.  All of this work is expected to be completed by the end of July and will bring these historic structures back to mid-19th century life.

The Law Library building was used from 1834 until 1864 to house the library and personal studies for the five judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia when it met in Lewisburg for 90 days each year.  It is one of only two buildings used for this purpose before the Civil War—the other is the Capitol Building in Richmond—and has preserved within it graffiti written upon the wall by soldiers when it was used as a hospital after the Battle of Lewisburg in May of 1862.  Rhoda’s House, originally located on Chestnut Street, was the home of Rhoda and four other enslaved persons during much of this same period.  The two buildings thus provide a broad platform upon which the Society can and will present the full spectrum of our history during the first half of the 19th century. 

The Greenbrier Historical Society gratefully acknowledges the James F.B. Peyton Fund and the First Energy Foundation for their generous contributions in support of this project.  

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