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Oil Boom Homes On Display

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

The Joseph G. McKay house built by Eliza McKay in 1896 is located on Main Street in Sistersville and is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture during the oil boom.

The beautiful oil boom town of Sistersville will be on display March 14 as six of its stately homes are being opened for home tours.

While the tour is in connection with the 10th annual Sisters Fest, an event for sisters and close friends, it is open to the general public, including men who are not permitted to attend other Sisters Fest events.

Marilyn Puttenvink, organizer of the tour, said participants will be treated to exclusive looks inside these homes, most built during the town’s oil boom days.

In 1889 oil was discovered on a farm near Sistersville. Oil barons quickly descended upon the town, building unsightly rigs as well as many stately homes and a striking business district along Wells Street. While the oil boom ended in 1915, the lasting visual legacy of its handsome historical buildings remains.

The homes will be open from 2-5 p.m. The cost is $3 for Sisters Fest registrants and $10 for non-Sisters Fest attendees. To register and receive a map for the tour, go to 718 Chelsea St., Sistersville, the former Ryan Morgan law offices, located across the highway from the senior citizen’s center and beside Family Pizza, after 1:30 p.m. the day of the tour.

The Morgan house on W.Va. 2 will serve as the home base for Saturday’s home tour in connection with Sisters Fest.

The Morgan building, serving as the sign-up and information center for the tour, is a beautifully restored home that includes a spectacular wooden staircase and stained glass windows.

Four of the homes are within one block, creating an easy one-stop for tour participants. The Joseph G. McKay house built by Eliza McKay in 1896, located at 818 Main Street, begins dazzling visitors with its cut-glass front door. The home at 808 Main Street is the original Durham House, the predecessor to the Durham Mansion located on W.Va. 2 that is the site of a Sisters Fest luncheon prior to the tour of homes. The Queen Anne Victorian at 718 Main Street looks like it is a doll house plucked from a child’s well-appointed playroom. Across the street is 713 Main Street, a lovely home built in 1903.

While it may not be in such close proximity as the other tour homes, the Thistle House at the corner of McCoy Street and Thistle Avenue is not to be missed. The Greek-revival-style home is one of the city’s first “mansions”. Constructed of brick, it features many impressive interior features including extensive use of natural light-an unusual practice for that time period.

“This tour is an exciting opportunity for the general public to get a more intimate look at our town’s beautiful homes,” said Puttenvink. “We are blessed to have this rich heritage and wonderful keepers of these gems that are willing to open their doors for this event.”

For more information about the house tour or Sisters Fest visit www.sistersfest.com or www.myspace.com/sistersfest; e-mail sistersfest@hotmail.com, or call Betsy Westfall at 304-771-8699.

A Queen Anne-style home, this structure on the corner of Main and Charles streets will be on display Saturday during the home tour in connection with Sisters Fest.

One of Sistersville’s first “mansions”, the Thistle House, is situated to overlook the city park, leaving most passersby on W.Va. 2 to see the back of the home and miss its beautiful facade. However, attendees of Saturday’s home tour will not only get to see the entrance, but the interior as well.

On the home tour Saturday, this residence at 713 Main Street is a beautifully decorated treasure.