West Virginia Attractions June 03, 2022
Built By A Self-Taught Genius, West Virginia’s Lemuel Chenoweth House Was A True Feat Of Engineering
When you think of great engineering accomplishments, rocket engines, skyscrapers, and suspension bridges may come to mind. But one of history’s great feats of engineering took the form of an unassuming home built in a small West Virginia town – and is still standing strong over 165 years later.
In the quaint little town of Beverly, West Virginia, stands the home of Lemuel Chenoweth (1811-1887), celebrated carpenter, architect, and bridge builder.
Lemuel Chenoweth was truly a self-taught genius. Builder of homes, buggies, furniture, and several famous covered bridges in West Virginia, perhaps his best known feat was winning the bid to construct bridges along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike over many more established engineering firms.
He won that bid in spectacular fashion, by displaying his proposed wooden bridge model and then climbing on top it: the model supported his weight, and he promptly won the contract. This tale has become one of legend and children's books.
True to his fashion, Lemuel Chenoweth's home in Beverly quietly displays the brilliance of its creator. Built in 1857 by a man who was both a master carpenter and a brilliant architect, the house is a masterpiece of design and construction.
Its outstanding aspects include a unique post and beam design, stress members, architectural features, and construction techniques that drew upon his expertise in covered bridge building. Both the structure and details of the house reflect Lemuel's combined prowess as a carpenter, wood crafter, and architect.
Today, Lemuel's house is both a museum and a guest house. Though endangered by fire, war, and dubious remodels, the original structure still stands and has more recently been restored to its original charm, even featuring many furnishings built by Lemuel himself.
Nestled beside the Tygart River, the museum displays a scale model of the Beverly covered bridge which once crossed the river, which Lemuel built in 1847 and rebuilt in 1873 after its destruction in the Civil War, and which was removed in 1951.
You can also see a working scale model of a sawmill designed and built by Lemuel which was so innovative that some of its features have only been adopted in the last few years.
Visit the charming and historic town of Beverly, explore the fascinating
Lemuel Chenoweth house (learn more on Facebook), and spend a comfortable night (learn more on Airbnb) supported by the handiwork of one of our country’s greatest minds! As for those famous bridges Lemuel Chenoweth built, here’s more on the Philippi Covered Bridge. Address: Lemuel Chenoweth Museum, 90 Water St, Beverly, WV 26253, USA