History & Remembrance
Honoring the past + embracing the future
Here at the General Lewis, we know what it means to honor the past and those that have come before us, while also moving forward.
A walk down memory lane...
Did you know that the General Lewis was owned and operated by the same family until it was purchased by the Huffmans?
The hotel has been in continuous operation since 1929 after the original property was purchased by the Hock family. The main section and the west wing of the inn were designed by Walter Martens, a well-known West Virginia architect who also designed the Governor's Mansion in Charleston. The Hocks spent years procuring antiques in the Greenbrier Valley and adjoining counties to furnish the Inn. In fact, they were greatly inspired by the aesthetics of the Colonial era, and mostly collected items from the 1800s. We aim to continue their legacy, from our careful restoration of furniture to our design choices. Like the Hocks, we look towards the past century, inspired by the grandeur and elegance of the Roaring 20s and Art Deco, to balance the old with the new.
an earlier history...
The eastern end of the Inn, including the Dining Room, kitchen, and a suite of rooms on the first floor plus two bedrooms and a suite on the second floor, comprised a brick residence built in the early 1800s by John H. Withrow. We know that the hand-hewn beam in the present-day Dining Room was added when the wall separating two front rooms in the house were removed to create a larger space. This beam, as well as the additional beams in the lounge and lobby, were reclaimed from two structures behind the residence that were thought to be livery stables.
In our recent renovation of the Dining Room, we exposed part of the brick exterior wall, and retained the original wallpaper of the home on the ceiling. We are awe-struck by the power these elements of the original structure hold--having stood through the Civil War. We think about the history of these original structures with a critical lens, avoiding glorification, and recognizing the painful legacy that slavery has left on our world. The foundation, and these original elements were most likely fashioned by the hands of enslaved people, whose quarters and lives are hidden from view, both literally and historically. The act of uncovering the wall is symbolic in that we wish to expose this erasure, and we wish to honor all life that was built and seen by those walls.
Andrew Lewis, for whom the Inn and the town of Lewisburg are named, served as one of George Washington’s principal officers in the Virginia Regiment during the French & Indian War, in the words of George Washington's biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, he was “the hardest-working officer of the Regiment.” He also surveyed the town of Lewisburg.
Each one of our guestrooms is furnished with antiques, from our famous spool and canopy beds to our antique chests of drawers.
The Dollhouse, located behind the inn on the lawn, is a structure that was built in the mid-twentieth century as a miniature house and play space for children, it features a small diorama of a living space for dolls.
The original telephone booth tucked away in our lobby is a fun piece of history--take a peek!
The bar in the Thistle Lounge was once used as the Front Desk, both at the Inn and at the Sweet Chalybaete Springs Resort, and dates back it to the early 1800s. The Sweet Chalybaete Springs Resort was frequented by none other than Thomas Jefferson himself, who was likely to have stood at this very desk to check in. It has been lovingly repurposed as the centerpiece of our Lounge, where friends, new and old, gather. Notice the slot labeled 'post' on the front that was used to deliver mail!
We have continued the tradition of a sign-in registry at the Front Desk and have a record of travelers coming through that dates back to 1929 when the Inn opened for business.
The door of the original home was moved to the present-day entrance.
The mantle from the original dining room was moved to the Thistle Lounge.
The buckeye tree in front of the Inn, is the oldest buckeye in the state of West Virginia, and stood through the Civil War.