Newspaper Archive of
Mountain Messenger
Lewisburg, West Virginia
February 20, 1990     Mountain Messenger
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February 20, 1990

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2A The Mountain Messenger, Tuesday, February 20, 1990 Merry Hill... Continued from pg. 1-A The view from the veranda in- cludes the graceful curve of the lamp-lighted drive, the delicate out- line of white slat fence which sur- rounds the colonial rose garden. To your right is the multi-car garage which stables a bevy of luxury auto- mobiles, including a Rolls Royce or + tWO. From the massive mahogany front door you enter the foyer and become immediately aware of the airy graciousness of the Hamilton's home. The spacious dining room is on your left. A winding staircase of perfect proportion is to your right. ' Turkish carpets of intricate design and glowing color soften your foot- falls as you enter a passage which ultimately leads to the walnut-pan- eled library. . An angled black marble fireplace glimmers in one corner of the library. On the mantel are tankards, charg- ers, and salvers made of pewter -- part of Mrs Hamilton's collection of antique pewter objects. Across the +~+room a corner cupboard with a '~glass front holds treasurers which are more delicate than the pewter. Lawson and .Jeanne Hamilton j' are the third owners of Merry Hill. . The three-storeyed mansion was built about 1900 by the owners of i Frazier's Limestone Company. Later, the property was purchased + by Mr and Mrs Arthur Middleton Hill. + (Mr Hill was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy from 1942 to 1945. In 1947 he was named chairman of the National Securities Resources Board and was Chair- man of the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Greyhound Corporation.) Mr and Mrs Hill used the property mainly as a summer residence. Merry Hill once encompassed 400 acres. Mrs Hill began selling off portions of the property after the death of her husband. When the Hamiltons purchased the property six years ago, the estate had been reduced to its present size. Mr and Mrs Hamilton, both native West Virginians, moved to Lewis- burg in 1971 when they bought the VanZandt house on Fairview Lane. Later, they purchased the Bell House (just down the road from their present home). It was from the Bell House that they moved to Merry Hill. The Owners Lawson Hamilton was one of five children. He grew up at 1500 Quar- rier and 411 Beuregard streets in Charleston. Both houses were rented. "Pop was a house builder. In fact, he put up some of the very first pre-fabricated houses. They were made by Sears-Roebuck and Com- pany. Each piece was pre-cut and stamped to show how they were to go together. The cheapest widely distributed classifieds in town. essenger CALL TODAY! 647.5724 a word a word when accompanied if billed. by payment. ($2.25 MINIMUM) ($3.00 MINIMUM) Just write your ad to buy, sell or trade below and return itto our office at 122 North Court Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901, III II For an error.free ed, please type or print plainly, DEADLINE: 9 A.M FRIDAY U, You really can have the vacation of your dreams. We know how important it can be just to get away from everything and take a vacation. At II tra l &toNrs, inc. We make dreams come true. Marco Polo Travel and Tours. Inc, 123 w. Washington Street Lew/sburg, W.Va. 645-1200 1-800-628-6291 iii, iii I I i Rent To Own At OOO0 OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOQOOOO0 " FEBRUARY SPECZAI,.S ." 1 : RENT FOR ONE WEEK :)1 :- GET THE SECOND WEEK i j : :] OOOOOOqlIOOOOOOOOOOOOOqlJOOOOOOoooe, "We lived for one brief six-month period at Belle where Pop had bor- rowed enough to get a plot of land there. It was just one big open space. They were putting in the Marmet Locks then. That would have been about 1928 or ~1929. I was five or six years old," Mr Hamil- ton mused. "People had borrowed, Dad had borrowed from the banks, they couldn't pay Dad and he couldn't pay the banks. It was a rough time for everyone. It was then that we rented the house on Beuregard Street for $50 a month. We had an old Willys-St. Clair touring car. It had a glass tube on the radiator cap to tell you the engine temperature. I can remember Dad loading us all up in that car and driving to Swiss-on- Gauley to pay the landlady the back rent we owed. "Later I had several part-time jobs. I sold newspapers and helped Dad. The last year of high school (1939-1940) I worked at the Holsum Bakery from 3 p.m. until 7 or 8 o'clock. Then rd work all night on Fridays. "Dad would take us to the Army and Navy Store on Summers Street and buy us $3 boots. They had steel cleats on them and you had to take them off at the porch. Of course, in the summertime we didn't wear shoes. "We kept chickens under the back porch. Sunday was the big meal of the week. It was one of my jobs to get a chicken out from under the porch. My mother or father would say 'Get a good chicken. Get a big chicken.' I'd crawl under the porch and grab a chicken. Mother would wring its neck and then it would be prepared for our Sunday meal." Mr Hamilton, a large and quiet- spoken man,sits comfortably in his library at Merry Hill. He's dressed in multi-colored corduroys, saddle ox- fords, open-neck shirt and nylon wind-breaker. He folds his hands behind his head and glances up at the ceiling as he continues to talk about his youth. "Mother was an accomplished pianist. She'd drop anything to play the piano and to sing. I just love music. I played the clarinet and the bass drum in high school and sang in a male quartet at Morris Harvey College. Later I sang bass in a mixed quartet. We'd go to different churches every Sunday and they'd pay us $5. My brother and I sang in the Episcopalian Boy's Choir too." The care-free life of a first-year college student and singer of songs came to an end in 1941 when the young Lawson Hamilton was drafted into the Army. He joined an anti-air- craft battery and was shipped off to California. He he took a series of tests, ranked high, and spent nine months studying engineering at Berkley. "While I was stationed in Califor- nia I never had a furlough. It would take too tong to come home and, anyway, we weren't allowed to come East of the Mississippi River. So I got a job as a stevedore working on the Liberty'Ships. I worked the hoot owl shift, stayed at the Y for 50 cents a night, and earned a little money. "The next thing I knew we left Camp Hood, California, on a troop train to the East Coast. Then we zig- zagged our way in an armada bound for England. We were on a British ship. The food on that ship was so bad that all I had to eat were Baby Ruth candy bars and Coke. We were in England two months be- fore D-Day. We went in (to the Euro- pean battle fields) on D-Day plus 6 or 8." Jeanne George Hamilton was born in Wheeling. Her mother was a school teacher. Mrs Hamilton was the eldest of three children and had VCRs- TVs-STEREOs APPLIANCEs-FURNITURE Inside Merry 9i'dl The dining room (above) and a sitting room -- as they peared in the publication "Architecturod Digest ; Interior Des~ner Carlton Varney undertook the decoration of Merry HiE for the Hamilton Family. Merry Hill is one of the few residential projects undertaken by the nation dy.known des ner. to help her younger brothers through college. She attended Elkview High School near Char- leston. After the war, Jeanne met Lawson Hamilton for the first time. '1 dated his brother, Paul, first. I was a student at the Charleston School of Commerce and-I worked in a de- fense plant. After I broke up with Paul, everyone said 'Wait until you meet Junior (Lawson)'. Well, I did meet him at a dance at the Casa- Ioma in Charleston in January 1946. He was sitting in a dark corner and I was taken up to meet him. I said Tm sure glad to meet you' and that was about all. Later I thought, is that all there is? That Christmas I told my mother that rd never get married. By November of the very next year Lawson and I were married and started housekeeping in a little apartment. In 1950, our daughter Beverly was born and I quit work. We moved a number of times during those early years -- to Rainelle and to Beckley and back to Charleston. Lawson worked at Frankenbergers part time. He usually used up all his pay though buying clothes!" It was this time that Lawson Ha- milton and his father, using bor- rowed money entered the coal busi- ness. Things went along quite well for a number of years until one day "the coal market took a big nose- dive. I had no place to work," Lawson Hamilton remembers, "so I Step up to a Higher Office! had to take a job in Kentucky. I trav- eled back and forth. Jeanne and I had built our 'dream home' on Gor- don Drive. I told her we'd have to sell out. She said 'okey', and so we moved to Berea." The Beginnings of Success At Berea both Lawson and Jeanne Hamilton worked hard in the coal business that was to soon bring them great prosperity. "Jeanne worked at the scale house and sold coal, by the bushel, to the farmers for domestic use," at their Berea mine, Mr Hamilton recalls. Then, in the winter of 1962-1963, Amherst Coal in Charleston was in difficulty and called Mr Hamilton to come help them out. "It was just the reverse then. rd run to West Virginia and mine coal and then run back to Kentucky to be with my family. It was at this time that I became in- volved in civic affairs." Mr Hamilton remembers one eve- ning during a+ fund-raising affair for the Berea Hospital. We need to raise about $89,000. We started off asking who would give $10,000 -- nobody stood up. Who would give $8,000? Again, no one stood up. Who would donate $6,000? I stood up. I knew somebody had to start the thing rolling or we'd never get anywherer' That night, Mr Hamilton also knew something else. He knew he didn't have the $6,000 he had just pledged! However, within the promised time, he paid the full $6,000 plus. The hospital wing now bears his name. With the promise of; ture in West Virginia Hamilton his back to the loved Berea so mucti want to leave. They that after Barbara high school they'd when we moved to The coal business ginia was indeed Hamilton. In 198b~-he~ companies for an 0 amount. This nancial circle ton when the sale $55 million. Mr Hamilton -- as a consultant to bought his coal has a little more when he was the> day-to-day companies. A bright and shi! Airstream trailer sits at Merry Hill. "Even less fortunate, we kids on a vacation. the trailer and off we'd mer Lawson, our son, ing our granddaughter'. we used to take," says. 'Tve always belieVe~ it comes back to you Hamilton happily says at .the front door of his arm around his wife. And the HamiltonS give. LEADING THE NATIONAL FFA