Old Union Academy, 1820 & Davidson House 1831-1860
Early Classical Revival in style with later Neoclassical features. Union Academy, a private boy's school operated by the Union Presbyterian Church, grew until it became Union College in 1860 operated by the Greenbrier Presbytery. After 1872 the building was part of the W. Va. Female Seminary and later the Johnson Female College. The first Methodist Church built in 1831 (the brick portion of the House) was acquired by Union College and expanded to provide living quarters and dining facilities for its students. It later was used by the W. Va. Female Seminary and the Johnson Female College. The building at that time consisted of approximately 24 rooms. It has been in the Davidson Family since 1892.
Backstory and Context
The brick portion of the Davidson House was the first Methodist Church built in Union 1831. The Presbyterians purchased and enlarged the building for their school. In the 1850s, the academy became Union College, according to Dr. Ripley. With historic links to Union College, the Old Union Female Academy, at that time located in North Street between Main and Dunlap, had its roots from this campus.
After the Civil War around 1872, the buildings were sold to a cooperative group backed by the Methodist Church and reopened as the West Virginia Female Seminary, operating under the auspices of the Methodist Church.
Four years later, the school was bought by the Cabell Johnson family, local Methodists, and it was renamed Johnson Female College, functioning under that name and ownership for many years. The college then provided 24 rooms for its students.
Union Academy, owned by a descendant of the Beirne and Caperton families, was used for classrooms. Davidson House served as the dining hall, lodgings and classrooms. Julia and James Higginbotham now own the Davidson House. Julia is the great, great granddaughter of Joseph Davidson.
- Meeting with Dr. Ron Ripley, September 23, 2014.
- Meeting with Dr. Ron Ripley, July 7, 2015.
- Meeting with Julia Higginbotham, July 7, 2015.