Time travel is not really possible, right? But, if you find yourself in a place that looks and feels 250 years old, let your mind be free and you may feel that you have traveled in time. That is exactly what happened to me when I visited a recently reconstructed log house at the Luray Valley Museum. Let me tell you about my time travel experience.
A few weeks ago, Barbara (SCHS President) and I went to visit Rod Graves at Luray Caverns for a reason not part of this story. Rod is a fellow preservationist, longrifle collector and local historian. He also happens to be Senior Vice President of Luray Caverns, a wonderful place for visitors to the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to the spectacular cavern, Rod manages other attractions at the cavern site. To this author, the most spectacular of these is The Luray Valley Museum, an amazing collection of Shenandoah Valley objects which tell vivid stories of the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley.
Rod, with his brother, John (CEO), and the entire Caverns board of directors are passionate about preserving and sharing this vital history and have devoted many years, significant funding and diligent research to creating a truly spectacular collection for the education and enjoyment of visitors.
Among the items preserved at the museum are several very important old buildings. Threatened with destruction and loss at their original sites are examples of 19th century Shenandoah Valley architecture. Included among these are a log farm house, a historic church, a school and a barn. This collection of buildings gives the visitor an opportunity to see historic Shenandoah Valley architecture in person.
In 2005 Shenandoah County builder Bill Wine (Historic Restorations, LLC) contracted to remove a small house at the northeast corner of Church and High Streets in Woodstock. Bill estimated that the house to have been built about 1755.
Bill, ever the preservationist, carefully disassembled the house, numbering the logs, stones and boards, hoping there would be some opportunity to reconstruct this historic gem. Fast forward ten years to when Rod Graves, through his connections in the world of preservation, learned about the old log house. The Woodstock log house provided a unique opportunity to preserve the type of building that served the freedom-seeking earliest settlers to the Shenandoah Valley.
In a functional partnership with Rod, the log building was reconstructed by Bill and his company with the able assistance of local stonemason Clyde Jenkins and family. Ed Eastman and son built a new roof to original specification and Rod’s own in-house carpenter, Carl Vogleman, did much of the detailed finishing work.
Anyone concerned about moving the house from Shenandoah County to Page County should remember that in 1760, there was no Page County, or even Shenandoah County. We were still part of Frederick County and Woodstock had not yet been chartered. Everyone with an interest in our early history can be glad that this precious building has been preserved for all to see and enjoy. Rod expects to open the house to the public in early summer and plans to furnish it with simple, appropriate furniture and fixtures of the earliest period. When you visit the house, be prepared to enter the Shenandoah Valley time machine.
• Foster a spirit of cooperation between existing organizations, writers, historians, genealogists, collectors, preservationists, and other members of the Shenandoah County community.
• Aid in the collection and creation of materials and publications about the history of Shenandoah County and ensure that they are preserved and made available to the community.
• Support efforts by citizens, organizations and government to preserve historic buildings and sites.
• Share history through programs and exhibits.