Backstory and Context
The property effectively came under the control of the Edwards family beginning in 1866, with the marriage of Thomas A. Edwards to Mary Olivia Hoffman, daughter and heir of pioneer merchant Weeden Hoffman, who originally came to own the property starting from the time of Weston’s founding. (He died in 1853.) In fact, the “Edwards Block” was such more in name than right, for Mary continued to own the property pursuant to a trust agreement signed the day before her marriage in order to prevent her husband from obtaining any legal interest should the marriage not work out. Despite such precautions, Thomas Edwards proved himself worthy and successful, becoming President of the Lewis County Court (which granted him the honorary title of Judge) and, from 1876 until his death in 1890, the owner and editor of the Weston Democrat.
The property’s original structures were frame ones that had, almost miraculously, escaped all the business section fires of the late 19th century (with brick structures only starting to replace them). In that earlier era, different rooms were occupied by H. H. Smith’s leather goods shop, a butcher shop, Harrison & Warren hardware store, several different groceries, and a barbershop, the latter owned by a rarity, West Virginia’s only lady barber, Mrs. Fannie Bruder, who also sold cigars on the side.
In 1903, the old and dilapidated frames along with a few brick structures were razed and replaced by a large, two-story brick building of several storerooms that was completed in 1905. Among the Main Avenue first floor tenants of the Edwards Block in the mid 20th century were Murphy’s 5 & 10 cent store, the J. C. Penney Department Store, and Ralston’s Drug Store. On the second floor were the offices of attorneys Mapel Brannon, Robert and Charles Bland, and John S. Holy. Radio station WHAW’s original studios were also located on the second floor, beginning in 1948.
On the Second Street side of the building were the Bank of Weston and the Monarch Pool Room. On the Second Street second floor at different dates were the offices of Dr. Okey L. Hudkins, Dr. Karl A. Dillinger, dentist John Francis Riley, Edwards & Edwards Insurance, attorney William L. Fury, civil engineer Mathew S. Holt, the New York Life Insurance office, Davis Studio and accountant Claude W. Rinehart.
Smith, E. C. (2010). History of lewis county, west virginia. Place of publication not identified: Nabu Press.
Gilchrist-Stalnaker, J., & Oldaker, B. R. (2010). Lewis County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.