Historic photograph of the McGrew House (year unknown)
Current photograph of the McGrew House
For more information about James Clark McGrew, consider this book by Susan Hardesty.
McGrew's bank in which he worked as "Head Cashier" and later president.
Persis McGrew, wife of James Clark McGrew
William Clark McGrew, the eldest child.
Sarah Martha “Mattie” Mcgrew, the middle child.
George Harrison McGrew, the youngest child.
Constructed in 1841 for the family of James C. McGrew, this historic home now serves as an educational center dedicated to teaching about the history of the antebellum period and West Virginia statehood. The Society for the Preservation of the McGrew House started in 1989 with the mission to preserve the house and make the home an educational and cultural center, emphasizing the pre-Civil War period in northwestern Virginia and the creation of the State of West Virginia. The organization offers a number of exhibits that include antique furnishings, clothing, and artifacts related to the life of James McGrew. The organization also works to share the culture of the region and promote the history of economic development within Preston County.
James McGrew played a prominent role in the development of Preston County and in the formation of the State of West Virginia. He served in the local, state, and national government. Also, he was a businessman, with interests in many parts of the county, thus helping the county to develop Methodists and were prominent in the development of that church in Kingwood.
James C. McGrew was born September 14, 1813. He married his wife Persis Hagans in 1841. He built her a house on the site where the first house was built. James McGrew established the first coal mine and proceeded to ship out coal. B&O upped the rates and McGrew could not afford to ship his coal profitably. By the end of the Civil War, McGrew sold all his interests in Tunnelton and left. On March 12th, 1853 Kingwood was made a town corporate by the name of the “Town of Kingwood.” James McGrew was appointed to hold the first election on the first Monday in June, 1853. In 1856, a new courthouse was ordered to be built. The contract was taken by McGrew for $9,500. When finished in 1857 it was the finest courthouse in the state. In 1856, McGrew with E.C. Bunker, opened a store in Reedsville. The first post office established was Salt Lick Falls, with McGrew as Postmaster. James McGrew was elected to represent the county at the State Convention in Richmond. At the convention, they voted against secession. McGrew was one of the eighteen members of the convention who held a secret meeting on the afternoon of April 20th, 1861. It was the germ idea that developed into the reorganization of the State government of Virginia, ultimately into the division if the state and the formation of the State of West Virginia. McGrew was one of the founding fathers of the State of West Virginia. He served as a member of the first legislature of West Virginia serving in the House of Delegates. He represented the Second District in the House of Representatives of the Forty-first and Forty-second congresses. He declined a third nomination. In 1979, McGrew served as the mayor Kingwood. He resigned to become a delegate to the Methodist Ecumenical Conference in London, England. When he came back he again ran for mayor and won.