By DAVE PAYNE Sr., email@example.com
POSTED: March 5, 2008
BOAZ While its patriarch may be gone, visitors should be able to see more of Henderson Hall this season than ever before.
In December, Michael Rolston, the Henderson heir who opened the 19th Century plantation home to visitors in 1984, died and bequeathed Henderson Hall to the West Virginia Oil and Gas Museum, which is operated by Dave McKain, a friend of Rolstons since childhood.
McKain said taking over the hall has been an enjoyable, but difficult task.
Michael left this area a great piece of our heritage, but he also left a cat, two dogs, a horse, a Corvette and a ton of other stuff that has to be dealt with, he said.
When Henderson Hall opens in May for weekend tours, visitors will likely notice some changes.
Were trying to make Henderson Hall look less cluttered, the plan is to make it look elegant, McKain said.
Some areas that have been closed to tours in the past will be opened for public viewing. Among those is the carriage house, where visitors will be able to see the Henderson familys horse-drawn carriages.
One area of special interest is the Henderson family school, where the plantation children were taught the three Rs. It is now filled with tools and if one looks past the clutter, the original chalkboard slate still hangs on the wall.
The school room is really significant, McKain said. Its the oldest school room in Wood County.
McKain said he is looking for volunteer docents to help out with the tours.
This is a big operation and its really dependent on the volunteers. We wouldnt be able to do this without them, he said.
The 1836-era plantation home has been open to the public since 1984 and is furnished as it was in the 19th Century.
Rolston was the fifth generation of his family to live in the three-story Italianate villa-style home on Old River Road, just off West Virginia 14 between Boaz and Williamstown.
It was built by Rolstons great-great-grandparents, George Washington Henderson and Elizabeth Tomlinson-Henderson, in 1836. Just before the Civil War, they added the large Victorian-style addition to the front of the home.
In addition to the summer tourism season, Rolston had also been opening Henderson Hall for the Holiday Tours in December for more than 20 years. The home usually averaged about 500 visitors during the three-day holiday period.
The entire home features a mixture of older and newer technology for heat and light. While there are electric lights and gas stoves, there are also fireplaces and oil lamps and chandeliers.
Picture from Wonderful West Virginia
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