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14. The Lemuel Chenoweth House

Further west on Bridge Street, near the river, is the home of Lemuel Chenoweth, a noted carpenter and builder of covered bridges.

Lemuel was the grandson of John Chenoweth, a Revolutionary War veteran who was one of Beverly's early settlers. Born in 1811, he married Nancy Ann Hart, daughter of Joseph Hart who lived on Rich Mountain, and they had fifteen children. Two of their sons served in the Confederate Army, one of them Joseph, being killed in service. Nevertheless, the basement of his Beverly home was used to billet Union soldiers during the war.

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While a young, unknown cabinet maker from Beverly, he built a poplar model of a covered wooden bridge, which he took to Richmond. At the competition against other bridge builders, he placed his model bridge between two chairs and stood on it, daring the other builders to make the same test. As a result, he won contracts to build a number of bridges for the Virginia turnpikes in this area, and his work came to set the standard for quality bridges in the region.

bevbridge3.jpg (8274 bytes) The covered bridge in Philippi is probably the best known of his bridges today. Here in Beverly, he built a bridge across the Tygart River in 1847. It was burned during the Civil War, and he rebuilt it in 1873. In the 1950s officials decided it was unsafe for school buses; three charges of dynamite and a wrecking crew were necessary to demolish it. Had the officials known before what they knew after the blasting, the bridge might have had a different fate.

After building the Beverly bridge, Mr. Chenoweth built his home overlooking the river in 1856. The nature of the construction of the post and beam house can be seen both within and without. Many architectural construction features unique to Lemuel's abilities as a craftsman and architect will be seen in cabinets, fireplace mantels as well as structure of the house.

The house is a two story end gable house with a one and 1/2 story shed roof wing on the rear and side. It has clapboard siding and 6/6 windows, with large 8 x 12 inch bricks in the basement walls and a massive interior brick chimney.

The house has been carefully restored to its 19th century configuration, and is open to the public for tours as a house museum.

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