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Culture, History, Outdoor Adventure: Lewisburg , West Virginia # 1-2-440-11 Historic District Downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia (c) Thomas R. Fletcher

            Lewisburg, the county seat of Greenbrier County , West Virginia has a long history, going back to its charter in 1782.  Lewisburg is located in the heart of West Virginia ’s Greenbrier Valley —a long valley formed by the Greenbrier River through the scenic Allegheny Mountains.  It is an area rich in history and natural beauty, a remote “oasis” from the bustling East Coast city life.  Named for Revolutionary War General Andrew Lewis, the town has a 235-acre historic district, designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, encompassing more than sixty 18th and 19th century buildings of historic and architectural significance. Those buildings include the General Lewis Inn , the North House Museum and the Old Stone Church . Built in 1820, the North House Museum houses the collection of the Greenbrier County Historical Society. 

Named one of National Geographic’s “Best Small Town Escapes,” Lewisburg was also named by the Trust for Historic Preservation as a “Distinctive Destination.”  The Greenbrier Valley Theatre, a state-of-the-art facility in downtown, and Carnegie Hall bring many cultural events to the area.  The town center is an area of fine shopping with specialty stores and galleries featuring crafts, quilts, books, gourmet food, contemporary art and antiques.  Walking tours of the town are offered from the Visitor’s Center and City Hall.

      # 1-2-362-10 Greenbrier River along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail (c) Thomas R. Fletcher      Area outdoor attractions include the Greenbrier River Rail Trail extending 77 miles north from Caldwell in Greenbrier County to Cass in Pocahontas County ; this multi-use trail offers hiking, biking, and equestrian activities.  The trail is one of the nation’s longest stretches of rail-trail.  It crosses 35 bridges along the way, providing a connection between two state forests (Greenbrier and Seneca) and two state parks (Watoga and Cass).  The Greenbrier River is the longest free-flowing river in the eastern United States .  Greenbrier State Forest offers 5,130 acres for hiking, camping, hunting, and swimming.  Beartown State Park is located 23  miles north of Lewisburg along US Route 219 with a picnic area and 107 acres for exploration.  Calvin Price Driving Comfort 120x60State Forest (30 miles north of Lewisburg along Rt. 219) features 9,482 acres for public hunting and fishing.  The forest straddles the Greenbrier/Pocahontas County line and borders Watoga State Park .  Lake Sherwood Recreation Area has campsites, hiking trails and a 165-acre lake.  Blue Bend Recreation Area and Monongahela National Forest offer more outdoor options.  Lost World Caverns are another nearby attraction.  You may have noticed the proliferation of “forests” being listed.  West Virginia is more than 75% forested, making it the third most forested state.# 1-2-359-2 Cyclist along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail Copyright Thomas R. Fletcher

The West Virginia State Fair is an annual event held in the nearby town of Fairlea each August.  The fair always features a variety of events from livestock shows, to horse-pulling contests, tractor pulls, harness racing, and performances by major music stars. 1-2-440-16-b.jpg (127032 bytes)

“I’m amazed at the availability and quality of the restaurants for such a small town,” says Dee Wiley, a Maryland native.   “The Tavern 1785 and Food & Friends are two of our favorites—and they sit across the street from one another,” she adds.  Dee and her husband John Wiley retired to Lewisburg a year ago, after nearly 40 years living and working in the Rockville , Maryland area.  Dee is not alone in her assessment of area restaurants.  The Food Network covered three Greenbrier County restaurants in 2004 as part of its “Best of” series; the Greenbrier, the General Lewis Inn, and Food & Friends.  Lewisburg offers a variety of dining experiences from the elegant Tavern 1785 to chain establishments such as Applebee’s and Bob Evans.# D-05-2903 Deborah relaxing on the antique furnishing of the Historic General Lewis Inn, Lewisburg, WV (c) Thomas R. Fletcher

            The availability of affordable housing and the beauty of the area were primary factors that influenced Dee and John in their decision to make Lewisburg their retirement home.  John, age 70, stays busy with golf, church, the Masonic Lodge, the Elks, and yard work.  Dee , age 62, is involved with the garden club, the bowling league and loves taking in cultural events at Carnegie Hall.  Dee is a self-confessed “city girl” that has fallen in love with the country ways of small-town West Virginia .  That has a lot to do with the cultural options found in Lewisburg.

Carnegie Hall, originally built as part of the Greenbrier College for women in 1902 as a gift from Andrew Carnegie, sponsors a performing arts series, art galleries, art and dance studios.  Another place to catch live performances is the Greenbrier Valley Theatre, the only year-round professional live performance theatre in West Virginia .  The Greenbrier Bowling and Recreation Center in downtown Lewisburg, offers billiards, amusements, bowling, a pro shop and on-site dining.

            “We came from an area in Maryland where a drive was always involved, and traffic was always a consideration [to get to cultural events].  Here, everything is so close—and reasonably priced, the cultural events are a real plus,” Mrs. Wiley enthuses.  When asked what their biggest surprise was after moving to the area, they list “the availability of cultural events, the safety factor, being able to walk around with no worries, the kind gestures of community—like stepping into another time.  There is a wonderful sense of community.”  John then adds, “The availability of medical facilities—that’s something very important to retirees, and of course rest and relaxation.”

            “Everything is here, amenities one would expect only in a much larger metropolitan area.  So much is available in this little town.  I have real contentment and enjoyment.  Shopping is another plus, and one that must be considered for the ladies.   There are several upscale shops where specialty items are to be found,” Dee says.#D-05-2898 Deborah relaxing on the antique furnishing of the Historic General Lewis Inn, Lewisburg, WV (c) Thomas R. Fletcher

            Since John was originally from Greenbrier County , Dee had a familiarity with the area from visiting family and friends over the years.  John worked in the Maryland school system before retirement.   Dee had work experience in customer service at Bloomingdales.  She has seen her share of “attitude.”  So, when she says, “People here are not at all demanding, no matter their status—the rest of the country could take a lesson from Lewisburg on how to be nice,” her statement believable.  She has had plenty of experience dealing with people.

            Greenbrier County offers John a wide selection of courses for golfing.  The county boasts seven courses, including three championship courses at the Greenbrier.  Valley View Country Club features a nine-hole course and an onsite restaurant.  The Lewisburg Elks Country Club features an 18-hole course with onsite dining, outdoor pool and clubhouse.  The Greenbrier Hills Golf Club features a nine-hole course, and the Oakhurst Links round out the seven county courses.

  The first organized golf in America was in Greenbrier County —in White Sulphur Springs in 1884, the year the Oakhurst Links was organized.  The original nine-hole course was restored in 1994.  Here one may have a unique golfing experience using hickory-shafted clubs, “guttie” balls, and hit from sand tees.  Replica equipment, like that used by those original golfers is manufactured in St Andrews , Scotland exclusively for Oakhurst Links.  Use of the equipment is included in the green fee. 

            Jack and Prudence Fox came to Lewisburg from Seattle , Washington nearly 12 years ago.  Jack’s career in publishing had taken them all around the US —with a long stretch in the Boston area.  They also spent a good deal of time in New York , Philadelphia and Los Angeles —living in several states over John’s 37 years in the publishing industry.  Prudence is originally from Rochester , Minnesota .  She met Jack while attending college in California , and they will soon celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary.  Jack is originally from Rainelle in eastern Greenbrier County .

            “Basically, we’ve lived everywhere, but I’ve always loved the Greenbrier Valley .  I consider it an oasis.  Like many others, I originally left to find employment,” Jack says.

            “I love the beauty of the town.  Everyone takes pride in their place and that keeps the whole town looking beautiful.  We have great neighbors and I feel safe.  We’re close to everything,” says Prudence who is 71 years old.

            Jack stays busy with outdoor pursuits, “I’m 74 but most people take me for a much younger man.  That’s due to my active lifestyle.”  He cross-country skis in the winter, runs year-round, kayaks and goes trout fishing at other times.  He loves the combination of the area’s accessibility and outdoor opportunities.  “Lewisburg has a unique charm with its history, culture and outdoor opportunities.”

            Prudence stays busy with church activities, the garden club and her artistic outlet, painting.   Jack has taken up some teaching and ministerial work after his retirement.  “Lewisburg has presented me with an opportunity to put a capstone on my wanderlust,” Jack states.

            The Foxes have a great love of the tranquility they find in the valley.  They find the history, culture and outdoor opportunities of the area to be ideal.

            Josephine and P.J. O’Brien are Greenbrier County natives that left the area because of work, only to later return for the love of place.  PJ’s job with the CSX Corporation took them from Lewisburg  in 1985 to Waycross , Georgia , then on to Jacksonville , Florida and Richmond , Virginia before their return to Lewisburg two years ago.  The O’Briens had a fascination with travel and wanted to explore other areas.

            Josephine says they always knew they had a place in the Lewisburg area, they owned a farm.  “We traveled with his work, but the beach life wore off.  It was time to come home.”  When they returned, they built a log cabin on the farm.  They now enjoy the solitude and tranquility of nature sitting by their pond or walking in the woods.  PJ still does some consulting work for the railroad and in October 2005, Josephine opened a downtown Lewisburg specialty shop, The Very Thing.  The shop carries antiques, collectibles, gifts and artwork.  “I’ve found the people very supportive, gracious and giving, especially after opening my store.”

            When describing the Greenbrier Valley , Jo says, “It really is almost heaven.  I love the fall and the change of seasons.  It is a wonderful place to live.”  PJ says his reason for moving back was, “I wanted to look at those beautiful mountains, and I don’t want to see windmills” (an oblique reference to the desire of some who wish to see wind turbines in the area as an alternative energy source).

            Josephine and PJ stay busy visiting the flea markets (held on Tuesday and Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in Fairlea), auctions, family and friends—and traveling back to Waycross where their son Greg still lives, to visit their granddaughter Taylor.

            They find the traffic surprising.  “The people don’t change much, but there’s a lot more traffic now days. It’s not really surprising when you realize more people are finding out about what a great place to live Lewisburg is.”

            The Census Bureau ranks West Virginia as the sixth fastest growing destination for buyers of second homes (classified as vacation, seasonal or recreational homes).  Price and proximity to major metropolitan areas are primary considerations.  People moving back to West Virginia represents the largest group of retirees moving to West Virginia but those numbers are changing as more people find the tranquility of the mountains and the desirable lifestyle available at a reasonable price.  Lewisburg combines recreational, historic, cultural, and environmental advantages—all within a small town setting—advantages many larger metropolitan areas don’t have to offer.

Stock photography by Thomas R. Fletcher at Alamy

Lewisburg Information Box

Population of Lewisburg and Greenbrier County : 3,624 in Lewisburg, 34,886 in Greenbrier County  

Location: Lewisburg is located 112 miles East of Charleston, WV; 206 miles West of Richmond, VA; 254 miles North of Charlotte, NC and 256 miles Southwest of Washington, DC.

Climate         High     Low

January             39        22

July                  83        59

Average Relative Humidity: 70%

Annual Rainfall: 44.6 inches

Annual Snowfall: 46.2 inches

Cost of Living: West Virginia ranks in the lowest 1/3 of US states in cost of living

Average Housing Costs The average three-bedroom falls into the $110,000 - $165,000 price range. Newer homes average $160,000 - $450,000. 

Sales Tax: 6% state sales tax on all purchases except food.  There is a 5% sales tax on food.

State Income Tax: Income tax is imposed on all income including state and federal pensions (with the exception of police and firefighter pensions).  Taxable income is determined to be the federal adjusted gross income less a $2000 per person deduction.  Taxable income under $10,000 is taxed at 3%.  Income of at $10,000 but less than $25,000 is taxed at $300 plus 4% of excess over $10,000.  Income of at $25,000 but less than $40,000 is taxed at $900 plus 4.5 of excess over $25,000.  Income of at least $40,000 but less than $60,000 is taxed at $1575 plus 6% of excess over $40.000.  Income in excess of $60,000 is taxed at $2775 plus 6.5% of excess over $60,000.

Estate Tax:  There is no estate tax in West Virginia .

Property Tax: West Virginia counties operate on an ad valorem tax of both real and personal property.  The appraised value is multiplied by 60% to get the assessed value. That figure is multiplied by current tax rate to determine the tax owed.  There are four classes of real and personal property.  Class I is all tangible personal property used exclusively in agricultural production and all products of agriculture.  The Lewisburg taxation rate for Class I property is .0068095.  Class II property is all property owned, used, and occupied by the owner or bona fide tenants exclusively for residential purposes. Farm and Homestead exemptions may be applied with the proper application to the Assessor’s office.  Homestead exemptions are for those 65 years old or older (or completely disabled).  Applicant must have been a resident of West Virginia for two calendar years.  Applicant must have lived on the property for at least six months.  The exemption is on $20,000 or the assessed value.  The Lewisburg taxation rate for Class II property is .013619.  Class III property is all property outside of municipalities with the exception of Class I and II property.  Lewisburg has no tax for Class III property.  Class IV property is all real and personal property within municipalities with the exception of Class I & II property.  The Lewisburg tax rate for Class IV property is .027238.

Religion: There are 20 local denominational and non-denominational places of worship in and around the Lewisburg area.

Education The Greenbrier Community College (one of four major campuses of the New River Community and Technical College offering 18 associate degree programs and seven certification programs.  The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine provides education programs for primary osteopathic physicians for rural and underserved communities in West Virginia

Transportation Interstate 64 crosses Greenbrier County with eight exits in the county. US Route 60 crosses the county east to west and US 219 crosses the county north to south. The Greenbrier Valley Airport provides air service.  Amtrak makes stops in White Sulphur Springs and Alderson.  Greyhound Bus has a limited drop-off in Lewisburg; Greenbrier Valley Limousine provides transportation from the Greenbrier Valley Airport .

Health: The Greenbrier Valley Medical Center is a 122-bed acute care center with 80 physicians in 21 specialties.  The Robert C. Byrd Clinic primary and specialty care center at the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine with 60 full and part-time employees, handles more than 48,000 patient visits a year.  The Rainelle Medical Center serves western Greenbrier County .  The Greenbrier Clinic located at the Greenbrier Resort is a leading diagnostic clinic with 13 internal medicine specialists.  The Greenbrier Physicians facility, located next to the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center , features advanced medical equipment including a laboratory, mammography, X-ray.  The Greenbrier Valley Cancer Center offers treatments including external beam radiation and three-dimensional conformal therapies.

Housing Options: Housing prices in Greenbrier County range from a low of $9000 to a high of several million dollars.  The average three-bedroom falls into the $110,000 - $165,000 price range.  Newer homes average $160,000 - $450,000.  Antebellum and Victorian homes are frequently in the market and the price varies widely with the condition of the home.  The rental market in the area is growing with new home construction.  Most rentals are handled by the owners, not real estate agents. 

The Retreat is a 950-acre planned development three miles outside Lewisburg (and three miles from the Greenbrier property).  The development will have a maximum of 165 home sites, all with security, city water, underground power lines, natural gas lines, and high-speed fiber optics.  There is a $4 million clubhouse on top of the mountain.  Currently, prices range from $150,000 - $300,000 per site.  Phone 304-647-5660 for information. 

The Greenbrier Sporting Club is a series of intimate development sites on the Greenbrier Resort’s 6,500-acre property.  There is a $120,000 initiation fee for the club, $8000 in annual dues, and a $1,400 association fee.  These fees gain members access to the resort’s activities.  Prices for home sites start at $400,000.  Sites range from ¼-acre to 10 acres in size.  Phone 888-741-8989 for information.

Visitor lodging: 1,477 Rooms total (including 638 hotel rooms, 803 rooms at the Greenbrier Resort, and 36 rooms at Bed & Breakfasts.  Average hotel prices are $90 per night.  Average Bed & Breakfast room prices are $105 per night.  Rooms at the Greenbrier start at $389 (April – October).  Phone the Greenbrier at 800-624-6070 or 304-536-1110

Information: Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Official Destination Marketing Organization of Greenbrier County

540 N. Jefferson Street - Box 17 , Suite N
Lewisburg , WV 24901
Phone: 800-833-2068
Fax: 304-647-3001
www.greenbrierwv.com

If You Go:

 

USA,   West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg, intersection of US Route 60 (east-west) and US Route 219 (north-south) 1-2-440-10 1-2-440-10      USA , West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg, intersection of US Route 60 (east-west) and US Route 219 (north-south)

USA,   West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg 1-2-440-9 1-2-440-9        USA, West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg

Historic D 

USA,   West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg 1-2-440-8 1-2-440-8        USA, West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg USA,  West Virginia,   Greenbrier  County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance 1-2-426-5 1-2-426-5        USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County , The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance
USA,  West Virginia, Lewisburg, The General  Lewis Inn  1-2-440-4 1-2-440-5        USA, West Virginia, Lewisburg, The General Lewis Inn USA, West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg 1-2-440-11 1-2-440-11      USA, West Virginia, Lewisburg, Historic District Downtown Lewisburg
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USA,  West Virginia,   Greenbrier  County The Greenbrier (The Old White), The Spring House site of the original white sulphur spring (1778) 1-2-426-15 1-2-426-15      USA, West Virginia  Greenbrier County The Greenbrier (The Old White), The Spring House site of the original white sulphur spring (1778) USA ,  West Virginia,   Greenbrier  County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance 1-2-425-12 1-2-425-12      USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance
USA,  West Virginia,   Greenbrier  County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance 1-2-426-2 1-2-426-2        USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County  The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration, Deborah A. Fletcher holding the falcon 1-2-427-12 1-2-427-12      USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration, Deborah A. Fletcher holding the falcon
USA,  West Virginia ,   Greenbrier  County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration 1-2-426-20 1-2-426-20      USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration USA ,  West Virginia ,   Greenbrier  River  along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail 1-2-362-10 1-2-362-10      USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier River along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail
USA,  West Virginia,   Greenbrier  River  along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail 1-2-363-2 1-2-363-2        USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier River along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail USA ,  West Virginia ,   Greenbrier  County  , The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance 1-2-425-11 1-2-425-11      USA, West Virginia  Greenbrier County , The Greenbrier (The Old White), North Entrance
 USA ,  West Virginia ,   Greenbrier  County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration 1-2-427-5 1-2-427-5        USA, West Virginia, Greenbrier County, The Greenbrier (The Old White), Falconry demonstration SA,   West Virginia, Cycling along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail 1-2-359-11 1-2-359-11      USA, West Virginia, Cycling along the Greenbrier River Rail Trail
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