The pavilion, the last remnant of the Blue Sulphur Spring Resort.
Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren, our 8th president, were said to be among the notable early guests at the resort, complete with its elaborate hotel and grand ballroom.
This story is based on Greenbrier County history. The focal point, however, is not famous The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, but rather an 1836 pavilion, the last remnant of the Blue Sulphur Spring Resort.
Preserving the structure has been a goal of the Greenbrier Historical Society since its inception during West Virginia's Centennial in 1963. The effort is intensifying as the pavilion is in dire need of repair.
President Margaret Hambrick says phase one of the project is to stabilize the structure, situated on farmland nine miles north of Alderson. The resort, which once featured a three-story hotel, was a popular stopping point for travelers before the Civil War that was known for its "medicinal" waters.
The sulphur water was believed to aid the cure for everything from ulcers and skin diseases to nervous conditions.
"The Blue gave White Sulphur a run for its money, but it was never quite as spectacular as (The Greenbrier)," she said. "It's a wonderful example of this period in the valley's history. It's an iconic structure that is dear to the heart of this community. We think it's really special in terms of the history of the springs of the Virginias and life back in the early 1800s."
The main structure was destroyed by fire during the Civil War. Poor drainage has damaged the structural integrity of the pavilion, according to an architectural and engineering firm, the Mills Group of Morgantown.
"We'd like to bring it back and spur economic development in that part of the county," Hambrick added. "We think it's just absolutely the right thing to do, but, of course, it all costs money."
The first step is an emergency stabilization to prevent the stately Greek revival pavilion from collapsing. One of the 12 columns has slipped off center.
"It's in dire, very dangerous condition," she said. "We need to do some shoring up to make sure it stands until we can raise the larger amount needed for a full fix. Hopefully, it will buy us some time for the next phase."
West Virginia's Division of Culture and History, the Greenbrier County Commission, area foundations and individuals have been providing assistance. Two acres surrounding the pavilion were donated a year ago to the historical society by landowner Rebecca Fleshman Lineberry.
The site, which was once the short-lived home of Allegheny College, was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1992 and was added to the West Virginia Preservation Alliance's Endangered Properties List in 2013.
Donations to Friends of the Blue may be sent to The Greenbrier Historical Society, 301 West Washington Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901. Call 304-645-3398 for information.
P.O. Box 509
Ghent, WV 25843
Main (304) 787-5959