Wardensville West Virginia Driving Tour
This tour is a work in progress.
Hello and welcome to the Gateway to West Virginia! Or that's at least what we like to call it since we are the first town you see as you enter this side of the state. Wardensville is a small but mighty town, with a long history that has stretched to the present day with the town's current changemakers making their own history. Read more about the start of this town and plan a visit. As Kenna McKeever put it so well, Wardensville is a gem in a rumpled green bedspread.
The Frye house was built in 1825 by Henry Westfall Frye, a magistrate, mill owner, and farmer. It was a 2,600-acre plantation that included a Blacksmith shop, meat house, icehouse, flour mill, tannery, and several barns. It is located on Route 55, one-half mile northeast of Wardensville, and about half of the town of Wardensville is now located on this farm today. The large porches on the house were added in the 1880s or 90s by Henry’s son, John. Henry also had three other children, Paul, Laura, and Virginia. The Fryes welcomed guests and supplied food and forage to the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, the Fryes operated it as the Capon House for a while, offering overnight stays to travelers.
While Wardensville managed to stay out of the Civil War, for the most part, a few skirmishes did occur in the small town. As it happened across the nation, the actions taken during the Civil War caused Grant County to separate from Hardy County, although most citizens of Wardensville supported the Confederacy regardless. Read more about Wardensville's ties with the Civil War below.
Like many towns in America, Wardensville saw the boom of the railroad hit the area hard. Unfortunately, resources were used up and the railroad was gone by the early 1930s. This location is where the old train station would have been way back in 1921 when it first came to town. Check out more about the history of the railroad in Wardensville below.
Over a hundred miles long, the Cacapon and Lost Rivers offer notable views of the area and various activities for residents and visitors alike, such as kayaking and fishing. Many people also hunt in this area due to the diverse wildlife. A whitewater stretch of the Lost River flows just above the town from the southwest and once it reaches Wardensville is renamed the Cacapon River. This name comes from the Native American language, meaning “healing waters."
The Capon Valley Bank was officially established on July 1st, 1918, and began its operations with $25,000 in paid-up capital stock and a $5,000 surplus. The timber boom in the area was one of the biggest reasons for the bank opening in the first place, and they withstood the test of time as well as economic busts. The original bank was located in the Star Mercantile building. In 1946, the bank purchased a tract of land from the Lutheran church where their parsonage once stood and announced plans to build a new bank building in its place. On February 25th, 1949, this bank building opened.
Constructed in 1881 and now home to a retail store, this historic building was home to Wardensville's Methodist Church until 1953.
This recognizable building has been home to several different businesses throughout Wardensville's history, serving as the local watering hole, barbershop and pool hall...just to name a few! Currently operating as a restaurant and gift store, the Star Mercantile is run by the town's current mayor and lifelong citizen of Wardensville, Besty Orndoff-Sayers. Read more about the White Star and Star Mercantile's history below.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church has been part of Wardensville's history for quite a long time, since the mid-1800s! The church still practices today and is a beautiful spot on the town's Main Street. Learn more about St. Peter's and their long-ago history with the Old Methodist Church below. This building is another example of Wardensville's unique architecture.
Originally built in 1830, this building was used as a Blacksmith shop by the Cline family until 1895 when it went out of business. In 1930, the building was leased by the town and transformed into the Town Jail. The walls were lined with reinforced concrete, bars were installed in the windows, and double doors were put in for extra security. It was also built with hand dressed stone and held together with lime mortar. The windows are at street level, which lead to many people passing bottles of liquor through the bars from the outside. Only one prisoner ever escaped; his friends put a log chain on the bars and fastened that to a truck that took out not just the bars, but also part of the wall. Their efforts were short-lived, as he was caught again the next morning. The rear section of the building collapsed years ago but the front section of the jail remains secure. The building is not currently being used, but is still standing on Main Street.
Horace Pease built this Victorian home in 1875, known at that time as Hotel Warden. His son, John W. Pease extended the back wing of the house and added a tower in 1880. It was remodeled again in 1920 when most of the back wing and additional towers were built. Horace and his wife, Laura Hook Pease ran Hotel Warden from 1920 until Horace passed away in 1934. His grandchildren began the Warden family line. Between this period, the hotel’s businesses thrived, catering to travelers along the present-day Routes 259 and 55. The Warden house has stayed in the Warden family to the present age and is currently a private residence.
The town of Wardensville has a few homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Francis Kotz Farm is one of them. Originally built in 1860 by German immigrant Francis Kotz, this was the first home in the area to be built in the Gothic Revival style.