After our brief Easter break, let’s continue with our theme of historic buildings and their stories. This week, it’s a home that few have seen in the last 15 years, but many of you have probably heard about. Described by historical architect and consultant Mike Gioulis as “one of the most ornate in West Virginia,” the Kisar-Kincaid House is one of Point Pleasant’s hidden gems.
The core of the home standing today at 105 Third Street, representing the “front” section of the house facing the floodwall, was built before the Civil War by Dr. Samuel G. Shaw. Shaw was one of the early physicians of Point Pleasant, having come to our town in 1825 and read medicine under his father-in-law Dr. Enos B. Thomas and grandfather-in-law Dr. Jesse Bennett, famed for having performed the first successful cesarean section in the present United States.
Shaw was also the postmaster of Point Pleasant from 1833-1853, a member of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Board of Directors from 1863-1871 and again from 1875-1885, Mayor of Point Pleasant in 1871, Mason County Clerk in 1873, Overseer of the Poor for Lewis District from 1881-1883, president of the local Temperance Society, a board member of the Presbyterian Church, and an avid historian involved in the celebrations of the 1874-76 Centennial and the organization of the original Battle Monument Committee, and a founding director of the Merchants & Mechanics Bank of Point Pleasant.
After Shaw’s death in 1885, his daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Dr. Thomas Carpenter, managed the affairs of his estate. By 1887, the estate had been settled and the property was being advertised for sale, though it was not until 1891 that the home was purchased by Adam Frederick Kisar.
A.F. Kisar was born 1854 in Somerset, Ohio to unknown parents, his family records having been lost in the 1884 Belmont County Courthouse fire. He attended the Colorado School of Mines and served as an assayer near Georgetown before moving back east. In 1885, perhaps encouraged by the arrival of the railroad and ensuing growth of the town, he and his family moved to Point Pleasant, where he opened the town’s first jewelry store dealing in diamonds.
Aside from his jewelry store, A.F. Kisar’s other business interests during his 50 years in Mason County included the Point Pleasant Board of Trade, Point Pleasant Furniture Company (later the Standard Folding Bed Company of W.V.), Mason County Oil & Gas Company, Enterprise Docks, Kanawha Marine Docks, Hanley Rink & Theater, and Sterling Block (415-19 Main Street).
When he and his family, wife Anna and five children, moved into the old Shaw home, it was still a relatively simple two-story four-bedroom house. Of his children, Maude & Velma were founding members of the Four O’Clock Club in 1892, the oldest women’s club in the State of West Virginia, and represented that club at the 1904 meeting that formed the West Virginia
Federation of Women’s Clubs. Gertrude joined the nuns at St. Aloysius Academy in New Lexington, Ohio, Leota died young, and Adam Jr., after getting drafted during World War I, moved to Mount Hope to work for the New River Coal Company.
The present home began to take shape in 1900, when the Weekly Register noted that “Mr. A.F. Kisar is getting the brick and timber on the ground, to make extensive improvements to his residence.” This was the beginning of a project that remodeled the entire house, from top to bottom. The front section of the house was enlarged with two large bay windows and a centered porch, a two-story rear wing was built onto the house, the entire building was wrapped in sleek modern brickwork, the woodwork and trim throughout the entire house was replaced by local cabinetmaker and Pt. Pleasant Furniture Company employee Harry Keib, and major rooms such as the foyer and dining room were tiled floor-to-ceiling with Art Nouveau tile from tile works in Camden, New Jersey.
The final product is simply stunning and without comparison. Where else can you find three rooms tiled floor-to-ceiling with over two dozen different patterns, five rooms with removable parquet floors and ceilings, and a dozen hand-crafted and tiled fireplaces, not a single one of which is the same? To describe it doesn’t do it justice, and without the careful care of the Kincaid family during their 43 years of owning the home, it wouldn’t be here today for Main Street Point Pleasant to restore.
As part of the home’s restoration, Main Street Point Pleasant will be hosting a work day on Saturday, April 30th from 9:00-1:00. The home will also be featured in an upcoming home and garden tour being put on by Main Street on June 25th. More details on it to come.
Chris Rizer is the president of the Mason County Historical & Preservation Society and director of Main Street Point Pleasant, reach him at [email protected]