Stone House Mansion

On List Of National Register Of Historic Places

Location: approximately fives miles southeast of Martinsburg on County Route 9/19.  The house sits parallel to the road to the east, and the terrain is slightly hilly, mostly rolling.  Surrounding the house are cultivated fields. Topo. Map

Description: The main house was originally constructed in 1757.  It is one of the oldest stone structures in Berkeley County.  It is a two-story gable roof house with a front one-story enclosed porch with flat roof and balustrade and a rear two-story enclosed porch with a shed roof.  On the side gable elevation, to the north is a gabled entrance portico with battered square posts at the corners on brick closed balustrade.  The brick is painted.  The front porch was added to the house in 1948.  The rear porch was added ca. 1905.  The side portico was added ca. 1920.  Though there are a number of additions to the house, some have been constructed within the period of significance and the basic overall plan, massing and characteristics of the original house are still intact.  The house is significant predominantly for its historical associations as well. 

The house is predominantly Georgian in style with coursed rubble limestone with grapevine joints.  The numerous alterations has given it some details not in keeping with the original style.  The roof is slate with a slight cove cornice with a partial return on the gable end.  There are two large interior chimneys on the original portion of the house and s brick chimney on the two-story shed addition.  The addition has weatherboard siding.  The one-story front addition has a stone facade matching the original.

Windows on the north entrance elevation are paired nine over nine wood sash, non-original.  In the attic, flanking the chimney are one over one windows.  At the top of the gable end is a recessed carved stone with the inscription "1727 - SJM", this is not the original date stone.

Windows on the rear elevation, in the two-story addition, are twelve over twelve, six over one, one over one, and six pane casements.  Windows in the one-story porch addition are nine over nine.

The foundation of the house is stone, matching the exterior walls.

Surrounding the house on the north and west sides is a painted wood rail fence.

To the southeast of the house is the 1905 bunk house.  This was constructed to provide lodging for the help required to run such a large farm.  It is one-story tall and due to the slope of the terrain, the rear is two-stories above grade.  It has a gable roof with a shed roof across the entire front as an entrance porch.  The siding is German novelty siding and the windows are two over two wood sash.  The roof is standing seam metal.

The ice house is a partially recessed stuccoed brick structure with a gable roof.  There is a small square bell housing on the roof with a hip roof.  There is a shed dormer projection on the east side and a shed roof addition on the west.  All roofs are standing seam metal.  The ice house was constructed in 1900.

To the northeast of the ice house is the barn/garage/storage building.  It consists of two sections.  It was constructed ca. 1910.  The west half is a two-story two bay gable roof barn structure with vertical board siding.  It has a metal roof and a central brick chimney.  There is a large drive-in bay with a chamfered entrance portal.  Windows in the barn are one over one wood sash.  The east half is a one-story gable roof two bay section.  It also has vertical board siding and a metal roof.

There are two parking bays in the section.

In the center of the site, to the east of the house, is the newer, 1958 block house.

There are numerous trees and landscaping throughout the yard.

The interior of the house has been altered as well.  The floor plan of the original portion consists of the entrance into the dining room on the northeast corner, a den to the west of this and one large living room to the south.  The front porch addition contains a sunroom/den.  The rear addition contains a kitchen in the north end and a bedroom in the south end separated by a toilet.

The second floor contains four bedrooms in the main portion of the house and two in the rear addition.

The basement contains a kitchen beneath the addition, a large family room beneath the living room that was originally the kitchen, and another den/family room beneath the front porch addition.  There is a storage room and furnace/boiler/tank room on the north end of the original house.  There is also a large summer beam in the kitchen area.  In the utilitarian spaces of the basement the original finishes remain.  They are plaster over split wood lath.  There is an original batten wood door into the cellar/furnace room section.  There are also small round arched fireplace openings in the stone walls.

The basement contains the most original significant feature.  This is the original fireplace for the kitchen.  It is a large brick lined throat and firebox with a plastered surround, with a simple wood mantel containing a plain frieze area with composite cove molding and a self.  A hanging bracket was found in the opening when it was exposed.

Finishes on the interior of the first floor consist of tongue and groove hardwood flooring, plaster wainscoting and wallpaper walls, plaster ceiling. There is a simple wood cove molding and trim around the doors and windows.  The library room has knotty pine paneling.  The living room contains the original fireplace.

The original entrance opening, which now is a connecting door to the sunroom, contains a flat headed transom with an intersecting diamond shaped muntin pattern.  The fireplace in the living room also contains the original mantel, though the firebox has been rebuilt.  The mantel is painted wood, with pilasters that have a single rabetted center line.  The pilasters support plain capitals.  Within the capital space is a plain frieze area.  Above the frieze is a multiple segmented coved and ogeed cornice, which is very ornate.

On the second floor, finishes are the same as the first floor.  The front bedrooms contain four panel wood doors.  There is also the original chair rail.

The attic contains whipsawn roof rafters that are connected with mortise and tenon joints and a mortise and tenon collar tie.  They are Roman numeraled as well.  The slate roofing is supported by 1X3 wood nailers spaced approximately eighteen inches apart.  An interesting feature is that the second floor stair is support from the roof structure through hanging rods.  These are visible and flank the attic stairs.

History: The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion A for its association with the Hite vs. Fairfax suit, which revolved around the question of whether colonial government or English government had the authority to grant land.  The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion B for its association with Major General Adam Stephen, a significant settlement period person in western Virginia history and founder of Martinsburg; for its association with John Strode, settler and explorer and original owner of the house; for its association with Henry St. George Tucker, a prominent politician; for its association with James M. Van Metre, prominent merchant and farmer in Berkeley County; and for its association with Isaac D. S. Van Metre, prominent farmer in Berkeley County.

The Stone House mansion is significant under Criterion A for its association with the Hite vs. Fairfax suit.  The suit dealt with the concept of land grants from colonial governments versus the authority of English Lords and government to grant land.  In 1730 John and Isaac Van Metre obtained grants for 40,000 acres of land in Berkeley County from Lt. Governor Gooch Of Virginia.  This was the first land to be granted in the area.  It was granted after the Van Metre's persuaded the Governor that they needed land to settle eleven families in the region.  The government was anxious to promote settlement in the wilderness west to protect it from the Indians and settle in the area and thus granted the land.   On August 5, 1731, the Van Metre brothers sold the land to Jost Hite.  Hite had also obtained other land grants from the governor of Virginia.  When Lord Fairfax arrived in Virginia in 1735 he claimed that this land belonged to him, through English land grants.  Thus, the dispute arose.  James wood was appointed to run a survey and in 1748 the General Assembly passed an act stating that Lord Fairfax should honor all former land grants by the colony.  This would uphold the authority of the colonies and lead eventually to the Revolutionary war .  Fairfax ignored this act and began granting land that belonged to Hite and others.  Hite persuaded these owners to bring suit against Lord Fairfax.  In the meantime, the Revolutionary War occurred and the suit was deferred in court for the duration.  Following the war, the suit dragged  on for years and was not finally settled until both Hite and Lord Fairfax had died.  It was decided in Hite's favor in 1786.  Of course this could have been anticipated ,  as any other outcome would have undermined the new government.

The suit is significant in the  interpretation of the arguments and as a precursor of the concepts and concerns that eventually led to the revolution.  It was for these very beliefs that the colonies rebelled.   The stone house is mentioned in the suit and is included in a survey conducted as part of the evidence.  Also as part of the suit the Strodes  became involved as witnesses, since they owned the land subsequent to Hite.  They also had a vested interest in the outcome, since their ownership would become void if Fairfax won.

The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion B for its association with John Strode.  John Strode was the son of Edward, who acquired the land from Derby McEure in 1740.  McEure had acquired the land from Jost Hite.  In 1751 Edward Strode had the land surveyed and it is presumed that John Strode acquired the land at this time.  The house is presumed to have been constructed by John Strode shortly after  this date in 1757.  The current date stone at the top of the gable end reads "1727 - SJM".  It is not possible that the house could have been constructed in 1727, as the land was not granted until 1730 and not settled at least until 1731.  The discrepancy in the date can be attributed to the circumstance that the stone is not the original one.  The original was clay and in deteriorated condition and was replaced.  It would be possible to mistake 1757 for 1727 if the letters were deteriorated enough.  The 1757 date fits better with the ownership patterns and with John Strode's residence, as the house is attributed.  Strode's brother, James appeared in the Fairfax lawsuit when he deposed that he understood that the land had been sold to his father, Edward Strode, by Derby McEure in 1740 when McEure  left the vicinity.  He further deposed that Edward gave the land to his son John, the eldest son being deceased, who owned it at the time of the deposition, August 25th, 1770.

The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion B for its association with General Adam Stephen, the founder of the city of Martinsburg.  Stephen was born in Scotland and came to North America in 1746.  He graduated from the University of Edinburgh where he studied medicine.  He also served in the Royal Navy.  Upon arrival in the states, he practiced medicine in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  He then became a Captain in the British Army, fighting with George Washington at Ft. Necessity and Ft. Duquesne.  He was in command at Fort Cumberland, Fort Ligonier, and Fort Pitt in the fight against the Cherokee.  For his services to Virginia he was awarded 2,100 acres along the Ohio River.  In 1761 he defeated George Washington for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses.  In 1763 he commanded the troops in a successful fight against Pontiac.  He then moved from his home in Winchester, Virginia to present day Martinsburg Where he served as the first high Sheriff of Berkeley County.  Adam Stephen had acquired land from Lord Fairfax's property of the Northern neck, which was to include present day Berkeley County.  Berkeley County was formed out of Frederick County, Virginia in 1772 and it was chartered by the Virginia assembly in 1778.  Martinsburg was named for Stephen's friend, Colonel T.B. Martin, nephew of Lord Fairfax.  Meetings of the court were held at Adam Stephen's home at Liberty Spring in Martinsburg.  General Stephen offered land and stone to build a courthouse and jail.  By 1775 he was selling lots in Martinsburg.  Stephen fought in the Continental  Army during the Revolution  with the rank of Major General.  He was suspended as he would neither advance or retreat.  After the war, he served as a delegate to the 1788 Virginia Convention and spoke in favor of the U.S. Constitution.  

On a survey dated August 4, 1786, 360 acres of land with a barn and a two-story, stone house is listed.  The measurements given for the house match exactly the present Stone House Mansion's original dimensions.  The survey states that the land with appurtenances is in the possession of Adam Stephen, under John Strode, meaning Adam Stephen had leased the land from John Strode.  Stephen purchased this land from Strode on September 16, 1789.  The land was to be inherited by his children.

Adam Stephen's daughter, Ann,  was married twice.  First to Alexander Spotswood Dandridge  who died shortly and then to Moses Hunter.  Moses Hunter was the second clerk  of Berkeley County.  Moses purchased the Stone House Mansion property and Adam Stephen's mill property.  Moses died in 1798 and a few years afterward his heirs divided his estate.  The Stone House Mansion property was assigned to his son, David Hunter.

David Hunter served in the War of 1812 as a Lieutenant, and was killed in the battle of Williamsburg, struck by canister shot.  David was under 21 years old so this left the property to his brother, Moses L. Hunter, and his sister, Anne Hunter Tucker.

The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion B for its association with Henry St. George Tucker.  Anne Hunter, the granddaughter of Adam Stephen, married Henry St. George Tucker and they had eight children.  Anne had inherited a portion of the Strode farm from her brother, and Henry bought the other interest in it as well.  Tucker (born in Virginia on December 29, 1780) served as a volunteer in the war of 1812; was a U.S. Congressman in 1815; and from 1819 to 1823 was a member of the Virginia Senate.  He also organized and taught at a private law school in Winchester, Virginia and published several works on legal subjects.  The road on which Stone House Mansion is located is named  for Tucker.  The Tucker family was very prominent in Virginia politics and development.

Henry's father was St. George Tucker, who practiced law in Winchester Virginia.  He served as a judge in the general court of Virginia, on the Supreme Court of Appeals, and taught law at William and Mary College.  In 1796 he also published a pamphlet advocating the emancipation of children born into slavery.

Henry St. George Tucker's children were also prominent citizens.  Nathaniel Beverly edited the Washington Sentinel and was American Counsel to England.  John Randolph was Attorney General of Virginia from 1857 to 1865,  a congressman in 1875, and president of the American Bar of Association in 1892.

Henry St. George Tucker died in Winchester, Virginia on August 28, 1848.  From 1848 until about 1856, the estate was tied up by various claims in the court system, including a claim by the heirs of Lord Fairfax.  Once again the Fairfax/Hite suit had reared its head.  Tucker had put up the farm as collateral on a deed of trust and following his death it was determined by the courts that it should be sold to settle the dept.  Due to the lawsuits and contested ownership, attempts at public auctions failed many times.  The sale was publicized often in the Martinsburg press, to no avail.  The estate was finally settled and the Tucker heirs sold the Stone House Mansion to James Monroe Van Metre in 1857.

The Stone House Mansion is significant under criterion B for its association with James M. Van Metre.  The Van Metre's were one of the early settlers of Berkeley County, arriving in the early 1700's.

James Monroe Van Metre was born in Berkeley County on January 7, 1828 and died in August of 1907.  He was the son of Abraham and Nancy Van Metre, early settlers in the Smoketown region of the county.  James married Mahalac Welshans, daughter of Henry Welshans, who owned a 1,400 acre plantation on the Opequon Creek.  Mahalac died only a year later without having any children and James then married Catherine Hahn.  He and Catherine had seven children and lived briefly on King Street in Martinsburg before moving out to the Stone House Mansion.  James had been deeded a portion of the old Globe Tavern property by Henry Welshans in1855.  He ran a grocery store on the corner of John and Queen Streets in Martinsburg for many years and was a prosperous farmer.  As a testament to his success, when James Monroe died he owned 1,800 acres.  He is buried on the grounds of the Stone House Mansion.

The Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion B for its association with James Monroe Van Metre's child, Isaac David Sylvester Van Metre, who inherited the Stone House Mansion and its grounds.  He continued the work that his father had begun and continued to prosper as a significant farmer in the county.  He operated a sheep farm and also provided homes for troubled or orphaned children on the farm, working with the sheep.  He was a prominent citizen in the county.  His son Isaac David, Jr.  lives there now.  The Stone House Mansion has been in the Van Metre family since January of 1857.

In summary, the Stone House Mansion is significant under Criterion A for its association with the Fairfax/Hite lawsuit, being part of the property in the contention as to the legal grantor of the land.  It is also significant under Criterion b for its association with John Strode, who occupied the land at the time of the Fairfax/Hite case and was significant in the county's development as well as having built the mansion.  It is also significant under Criterion B for its association with Adam Stephen, founder of Martinsburg and settler, who leased and owned property and sold it to his daughter.  It is also significant under Criterion B for its association with Henry St. George Tucker, a prominent politician from a very prominent Virginia family.  It is also significant under Criterion B for its association with James Van Metre and Isaac D. Van Metre, both prominent business persons and farmers from a very prominent settlement family in the county.  The beginning date of the period of significance, 1757, is the construction date of the original portion of the house and the end date, 1942, continues up through the historic period of significance for the Van Metre family.


Comstock, Jim  "West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia" Richard, West Virginia, 1976.

Ruth, Frances Downey   Stone House Mansion drawings and measurements; August 1975.

Silver, F.;  "Historic Inventory of Structures in Berkeley County, WV"; 1973-1974.

Wood, Don C. "Stone House Mansion";  Unpublished manuscript.

Wrenn, Tony P.  Historic American Buildings Survey Inventory.

Berkeley County Courthouse
Deeds, etc.

Copy of the National Register Of Historic Places Registration Form. Prepared by:
Michael Gioulis, Historic Preservation Consultant
Don C. Wood, Genealogist & Historian
Dated: June 1, 1994

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