For decades train excursionists would disembark on Ninth Street and walk past the Old Stone House (green arrow) on their way to a day of fun at Rock Springs Park.
Eighth-grader John Chaney wrote a story about his favorite house in Chester, West Virginia, the Old Stone House in the city’s “upper end.” His story became a two-year research project in high school and a book in 1966.
Chaney wrote that he often wondered about the family that built the Old Stone House. One story he discovered claimed that George Washington owned the land as it was given to him by the state of Virginia for services rendered during the French and Indian War. The grant was for 1,000 acres and included "a one-half mile frontage on the Ohio River, extending from the mouth of Mark's Run and extending back from the river, through the center of what is now Rock Springs Park to a point south of Lawrenceville."
The land and the house, once the property of the Mark’s Family came under the ownership of C.A. Smith in 1900. Both were part of a deal struck with Rock Springs Park owner J.E. McDonald. Smith built his own home slightly to the west and just above the Old Stone House on Pyramus Avenue, a vantage point that gave him an unobstructed view of his pottery and his newly acquired amusement park. Smith’s home was built with all the latest modern conveniences on a terraced hillside with beautiful landscaping, but the Old Stone House below was a mere shell of its former self, having been raided and lived in by wandering vagrants.
Chaney wrote, "Mr. McDonald let the Old Stone House stand open for a period of time. During this time it became a stopping place for hoboes. People came to the house and took away anything that wasn't nailed down - windows, glass, window frames, fixtures of all kinds, doors, and any woodwork. The house was truly a big mess."
It did not take long before Mrs. C.A. Smith decided to fix up the house for her son "Dunc" Smith. The inner walls were completely removed and the house was reinforced with steel rods and a stucco addition which added a larger kitchen downstairs and an additional bathroom upstairs. These changes and others saved the Old Stone House from total destruction and have kept the dwelling habitable for over 100 years.
The Old Stone House as it looks today. Present owners are “Rusty” and Janice Smith (Courtesy of Vicki Robinson Jordan).