Alexander Campbell Mansion
Backstory and Context
Alexander Campbell, known as the "Sage of Bethany," was born in 1788 and in 1809, after his studies at the University of Glasgow, Campbell moved to Pennsylvania. Campbell became one of the most influential leaders in a religious movement, known today as the Christian Church or the Disciples of Christ.
The Campbell house was built in four stages, which John Brown (not the John Brown of the Raid on Harper’s Ferry fame) began in 1790. The house was elaborate for its time and contained glass windows, a rarity in the area. In 1811, Alexander Campbell and his new wife, Margaret Brown, daughter of the original builder John Brown, moved into their home in Bethany, (West) Virginia. Campbell preached about Christian unity at his hexagonal study on the lawn of his mansion. In fact, most of his teachings came from the comfort of his own home. A Campbell family cemetery is located on the mansion's property, which includes Alexander Campbell's grave. Also located on the property are a schoolhouse and smokehouse/springhouse.
Campbell continued adding to the home, and in 1819 created a large dormitory and schoolroom for the Buffalo Seminary, which he created later that year. In 1823, after the seminary closed, Campbell converted these rooms into bedrooms and a dining room. Between 1836 and 1840, he added a section to the west, known locally as the “Strangers Hall,” to provide accommodations for visitors and guests at the house.
Alexander Campbell was a strong believer in education, and in 1840 he founded Bethany College, which was later chartered by the state of Virginia. Campbell also participated in the 1829-1830 Virginia Constitutional Convention, where he spoke passionately about extending white male suffrage, urged the Convention to establish a state educational system, and encouraged the gradual abolition of slavery. Campbell died in 1866, and his son William inherited the house.Today, Bethany College owns the Campbell Mansion and is responsible for its up-keep and restoration. Touring of the mansion, as well as the Campbell Cemetery are welcomed.
Tours of the mansion are currently available upon reservation.