SECOND CREEK, W.Va. — A piece of American history — a gateway into the history and rural culture of our nation’s earliest years — will be up for auction in December as a long-time Monroe County, W.Va., landmark becomes available for a new generation of ownership.
Greenway’s Real Estate and Auction Company, based in Covington, has been selected to conduct the real estate and personal property auction for the Living Estate of Page Dickson, which will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 3, 4 and 5, in the West Virginia Building at the West Virginia Fairgrounds in Fairlea, W.Va.
“This is one of the finest auctions that we’ve ever been able to conduct,” said Greenway’s owner Tommy Garten. “The Dickson family has one of the most cherished histories in Monroe County and we’re honored to have been selected to conduct this auction for Page Dickson. Rarely do we get to hold an auction that allows us to take such a step back into such a historic era as this auction does for us.”
Museum-quality furniture, antiques and collectibles a part of the Dickson family for several generations, will be available during the auction. A full listing of the items being sold during the auction will be available soon on the Greenway’s website, www.greenwaysrealestateandauction.com, or by calling Greenway’s office at 540-962-1155.
A part of the Dickson family since 1835, Spring Valley Farm — located on U.S. Route 219 near Union — was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, with the boundary increasing in 1992. The boundary was increased to include all of the farm buildings, main house and acreage.
The farm was the original site of the Second Creek Fort, which was built in 1780, and the location of the Knox House, which was built in 1793, and later expanded into the present home. The original Second Creek Fort well is still located on the property.
About two miles of Second Creek run through the Spring Valley Farm. Second Creek was once home to more than 20 powder, grist and lumbering mills. Remnants of some of the mills are still available along the creek’s banks.
The originally log cabin home was built in 1793 by John Knox, who sold the property to his brother-in-law Richard Dickson in 1834. Dickson extensively enlarged the structure between 1837 and 1841. The property has remained in the Dickson family through four generations and is now owned by Page Dickson, whose husband, the late William Dickson, was a descendent of Richard Dickson.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, “Spring Valley Farm is a notable example of a long-lived agricultural tradition in southeastern West Virginia. From a modest log cabin beginning has grown a large and imposing farmhouse of simple lines, mellowed by the rustication of eastern styles. Above all, though, this has always been a working farm. A variety of animals were raised and grazed over its pastures and the crops provided its household and many visitors with fine meals. What is of as much significance, perhaps, is that the farm is still operated by descendants of the pioneer settler John Knox and the enterprising Richard Dickson.”
Much of the interior woodwork was completed by a carpenter named Sanford Ethell. Furniture in the home was made to order by Thomas Henning, a Lewisburg cabinetmaker, known for his ability in producing stylish and functional pieces. Some of those pieces remain in the home.
Today, the home has a total of 14 rooms, two large halls, two baths and three full attics — each one added during various remodels and expansions to the original structure.
Both large downstairs rooms and the entrance hall are wainscoted. Mantels throughout the house are of Federal design. Original rooms and the upstairs halls have colonial chair rails and baseboards. Interior and exterior doors are six-panel, late colonial types with original carpenter’s locks and small brass knobs.
Two large brick chimneys provide fireplaces for both the downstairs rooms and the two end bedrooms on the second floor.
Originally, the Dickson Farm was on a direct line of a turnpike which connected the Greenbrier and New River valleys. Over this route, stages carried guests between the favorable spas located at White Sulphur Springs and Salt Sulphur Springs until the Civil War.
For many years, the home served as a stop along the much-traveled turnpike. Food and lodging were available to passengers and arrangements were made for a change of horses to be kept for the stage.
Many prominent Americans and Europeans who vacationed at the various spas and springs were guests at Spring Valley Farm. One of those guests included Henry Clay, a three-time speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a three-time presidential candidate and a founding member of the Whig Party.
Page Dickson protected a majority of the property in 2012 by donating a conservation easement to the West Virginia Land Trust. In December 2014, the remainder of the property, owned jointly by Page Dickson and her niece and nephews, Sarah, Joseph and Richard Dickson, was permanently preserved under an additional agreement.
The West Virginia Land Trust works with landowners who voluntarily seek ways to protect their land from development and who are interested in maintaining the natural and historical characteristics of their property.
One way of achieving this protection is through the use of a deed of conservation easement that places permanent protections on the land.
Page Dickson’s goal in donating the easement was to “make sure future generations can enjoy what we have been so fortunate to inherit. Richard Dickson settled on 185 acres and the original family log home was built here. Every generation after has cherished the beauty and serenity of this place. We wanted to seek permanent protection of the property and preserve the scenic and agricultural character of the land.”