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The General Lewis Inn


by Ben Crookshanks

There are thousands of bed and breakfasts in this country. These charming old houses invariably are unique, but the furniture, especially the bed, is not always that old and thus a great deal of the charm is lost. Many people, whether consciously or subconsciously, want the furnishings to approximately match the age of the building.

Are you one of those people? Are someone who has always wanted sleep in a bed that is guaranteed to be over 100 years old? Then you need to check out the General Lewis Inn in Lewisburgh during your stay in West Virginia. The General Lewis has been operated by the same family since 1929. The original structure, a brick residence, was built in 1834, three years before the Greenbrier County Court House was finished.

The building you see today was built around that early house. The dining room is on the first floor of the original 1834 home. Upstairs, two rooms and two twin-bedrooms suites overlooking the garden were also part of the original house.

The place has about it the quiet elegance of the Old South. Located in the beautiful Greenbrier Valley, the Inn is surrounded by broad lawns, fragrant flower gardens, all under a lush canopy of trees. Every room is furnished with an original mantle as well as historic antiques produced by the early settlers of the surrounding area. Altogether, there are 25 guest rooms. When you step up and register at the General Lewis Inn it will be at a handcrafted desk made of walnut and pine built around 1760. It was the same desk Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson stood at when the registered at the Sweet Chalybeate Springs Hotel in nearby Alleghany County, Virginia, one of many mineral spring resorts in the area frequented by the rich and famous on holiday.

In the early days of our country, well over a hundred years before the invention of air conditioning, during the summer, politicians from Washington and wealthy plantation owners from all over the South would come to the mountains of what is now West Virginia to escape the sweltering heat and humidity.

The large hand hewn beams you see in the lobby and dining room of the General Lewis Inn were once part of the slave quarters on the property. Every where you look are antiques and memorabilia of the days when mountain pioneers were living in the area. A large collection of tools, guns, household utensils and musical instruments are displayed in Memory Hall. Parked out front under a shelter is an old stage coach once used to transport guests from one mineral spa to another back when the James River and Kanawha Turnpike was just a dusty road. It has long since been paved and is now designated U.S. Route 60.

Although there are antiques liberally sprinkled throughout the Inn, the accommodations are anything but primitive. All of the 25 rooms offer full private baths, air conditioning, telephones and cable TV.

Dinner specialties include country fried chicken, mountain trout, country ham, grilled pork chops and steaks accompanied by hot homemade breads and a variety of desserts. The entire Inn is a non-smoking area.

If the General Lewis Inn sounds interesting, check out their web site www.generallewisinn.com. Phone: (304) 645-2600. E-mail: info@generallewisinn.com.