Mason County Memories… Revisiting historic Fairview Plantation

By Chris Rizer - Mason County Memories

Pictured is Eastham House.

Pictured is Eastham House.

Sandy Dunn, Homestead Realty | Courtesy

It’s been a while since I’ve had an article on a historic building, despite those being some of my favorite articles! This week, I’d like to introduce you to Fairview, also known as Eastham House or Glenn Manor.

Our story begins with one of the first landowners in Mason County, future President George Washington. As I’ve covered in previous articles, Washington surveyed most of Mason County during a series of land grants for French & Indian War veterans, with over 10,000 acres of the best bottomland stretching from Three Mile to Southside going to himself. Somewhere between Five Mile and Nine Mile Creek in 1775, a party led by James Cleveland settled this land for Washington and started work on a new plantation.

Unfortunately, that same year, Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, drawing his attention away from the Kanawha Valley, and Fort Blair at Point Pleasant was burned, taking away their only protection. Washington’s western lands were soon abandoned, remembered only as the “Lost Colony”, and after his childless death in 1799 passed to either his nephew Bushrod Washington or grandnephew Bushrod Corbin Washington.

In 1817, Bushrod Washington sold 400 acres of this land to George Eastham, a Revolutionary War veteran whose grave is in the Concord Baptist Cemetery. George passed away in 1819, and the property was given to his son John who built the first house on the property and cleared the land for farming. When John moved west to Illinois in 1844, he sold the land to his brother, Saunders Eastham. Then, in a continual pattern for this property, Saunders died childless in 1847 and the property passed to a third brother, Albert Gallatin Eastham.

The owner of the property until his death in 1890, Fairview is believed to have been built during the early part of his ownership between 1847 and 1860. We can guess this based on the architecture of the home, one of the best examples of a Greek Revival plantation house in West Virginia. That style was at its height in the 1840s and ‘50s, and the classical detailing in the home could have come out of a textbook

As a Justice of the Peace, member of the County Court, Overseer of the Poor, and the owner of 10 slaves (his sister, Mary Newman, owned an additional 11 slaves that are believed to have lived and worked at Fairview) and a 1,000-acre plantation, he wielded considerable wealth and influence. This influence was dulled somewhat during the Civil War as Eastham, like so many other Kanawha Valley plantation families, publicly supported the Confederacy. After the war, A.G. Eastham resumed his service on the County Court and from 1877-79 represented Mason County in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

After his death in February of 1890, the property was purchased by a distant cousin, Presley Chapman Eastham. The Honorable P.C. Eastham came to Mason County in 1860 after marrying Mary Long, daughter of pioneer settler David Long, briefly left to serve in the Confederate 49th Virginia Infantry and saw service at Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg,

Appomattox, and many other major engagements, and returned after war. From 1872-76, he served in the Legislature as a senator from our district. His and Mary’s home was “The Maples” on Jefferson Boulevard, built by her father David in the 1830s and better known to many today as the Bartow Jones home.

P.C. Eastham, busy managing several other farms and business interests of his own, soon sold Fairview to James Smith, a bachelor cousin of General John McCausland who owned the adjoining Smithland Farm. After Smith’s death in 1893, both properties passed to the General. Under his ownership, the conjoined Fairview-Smithland farm was one of the first three in the state that were tiled to improve drainage and increase crop land. The other two farms were Grape Hill and Maplewood, also owned by the General, and much of the tiling is still functional today.

Following the General’s death in 1927, it passed to his daughter Charlotte and then through a long succession of owners before being purchased by Kenneth and Mary Dunn in 1971. They began the restoration of the house in 1980, and this was continued by the next owner, Dr. Keith Glenn, after he purchased the home in 1988.

Today, Fairview, or Eastham House as it is better known, remains one of the most impressive homes in the Kanawha Valley under the care of Michael Criste. The restoration of the home over two decades was top-notch, and together with the construction of the four-lane Route 35 far behind the property, the home has returned to what it originally was meant to be: an elegant country estate, large enough for a good-sized family or visitors, yet not so big as to be overbearing or dysfunctional. Currently for sale, it awaits the next chapter in its story.

Information from the Weekly Register, National Register of Historic Places, and George Atkinson’s “Prominent Men of West Virginia.”

Pictured is Eastham House. is Eastham House. Sandy Dunn, Homestead Realty | Courtesy

By Chris Rizer

Mason County Memories

Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at [email protected]

Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at [email protected]