Mercer County Commission Supports Grants for Restoration of Holley House in Bramwell | News

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BRAMWELL – A historic home that was once just a day away from demolition now has a chance to play a new role that will help visitors learn more about life in the coalfields more than a century ago .

The Mercer County Commission recently approved a letter of support to help restore the former home of Dr. William Alexander Holley, MD. In the letter, the commission asked the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Grants Office to consider a request from John Petrulis of Bramwell to help restore the house.

Holley moved to Bramwell in 1892 after earning his medical degree from Howard University. The Mill Creek Coal Mine near Bramwell was opened in 1884, and with several black coal miners working in the Pocahontas coalfields, it was important for them and their families to have a black doctor to attend to their needs. of health, according to the letter from the county commission. .

The exterior of the house is worn and discolored, but its structure has been stabilized and it still has its original metal roof, John Petrulis said during his visit to the house with his wife, Geraldine. He said they were hoping to get a matching grant of $5,000 so the exterior of the house could be made more presentable.

“He was originally all white,” he recalls. “Before, it was a nice little house.”

“People wanted to tear it down for ATV parking,” Geraldine added. “We wanted to keep it for history.”

They bought the house in 2018 when they learned it was for sale. When it became available, they had less than 24 hours to close the deal, she said.

Parts of Dr. Holley’s house had deteriorated, but structural work was done to help save it.

“He’s not going to fall,” John said as they started to enter. “The house is not going to collapse at all. He just needs tender loving care.

Clapboards salvaged from other Bramwell homes were used in the house, John pointed out. A whole part of the kitchen has been restored.

Inside the home, original woodwork can be seen along with modern drop ceilings and other light fixtures. Some of the original furniture from the house is still there. Geraldine said they were hoping to find more furniture from the house or find furniture that matches the time when Holley lived there and treated patients. She pointed to the living room, which could have been the doctor’s waiting room, and the adjoining examination room. Finding photographs taken when the doctor lived there would be helpful.

“We hope people will have photos so we can make it as authentic as possible,” she said. “And finding things that actually belong in the house would be really awesome.”

Once the restoration is complete, the house will be open to the public.

“I don’t want to rent it,” John said. “We want to furnish it with period furniture and let the city use it for tourists.”

In addition to maintaining a medical practice, Dr. Holley has been active in several professional associations, including the State Medical & Dental Association, the National Medical Association, and was elected to the Bramwell City Council.

“While many of his accomplishments included crossing racial barriers, in 1890 he established King Hiram Lodge #1, Free & Accepted Yorkrite Masons to Bramwell…the first African-American Masonic Lodge in the state” , the commissioners said in their letter.

“In its early years, the King Hiram Lodge met in the meeting halls of other fraternal organizations, but in 1942 the lodge was granted a building near Freeman, W.Va.,” the commissioners said. “Unfortunately, this timber frame building held up poorly and collapsed around 2005.”

“Dr William Alexander Holley’s house is on Bramwell’s list of historic houses,” the commissioners concluded. “The Mercer County Commission supports Mr. Petrulis’ efforts to save this historic property.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]

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