Bramwell, WV HistoryMay 5, 2014
It’s nearly one of only two times per year that Millionaire Row opens to the public to showcase the glamorous history of Bramwell, WV.
The mansions towering above Main Street Bramwell are a reminder that the barons of the coal boom once made this little town the richest around, with more millionaires located in one spot (and almost all cluttered on the same street) than anywhere else in the United States.
Characters from the boom area are brought back to life by costumed interpreters, who lead visitors through the ornate homes, setting the scene for their compelling tales of Bramwell’s heyday.
Their wealth came from 40 moles of Pocahontas coal fields, which employed 100,00 miners at its peak in the 70s. Some of the trains that managed the traffic and coal transport are still on display at the depot-turned museum.
Their immense wealth poured into Bramwell. Trace the footsteps of these early entrepreneurs, through elegant
ballrooms, past sun-streamed stained glass, and across wide, ornate verandas.
Some of the uniqueness of the homes is apparent at first glance. The orange British brick of the Cooper House, for instance, highlights the tint of its complete copper roof. Inside, you’ll also find a full swimming pool.
The interpreters will take you beyond what you see, and tell you about the prominent families of the time, and how they used the homes. For example, one massive house was actually built in addition to a family home just as a playhouse for the children. Another home, now a B&B noted for its spiral staircase, once also served as a kindergarten.
One home you may spot immediately entering town is the Thomas home, which sits atop a smoothly steep-sloping hillside above the other homes. Its English Tudor design is typical of many of the luxurious dwellings, but its intricate landscape and detail inside sets it apart.
And it’s not only the homes you can explore. The Historic Bank of Bramwell is another preserved piece of history, the richest bank for its size in America during the 20th century.
The spring tour is the first Saturday in June. Tickets are only $15 – tours begin at 5pm, meet at the Bank of Bramwell. The homes also open during an annual Christmas tour on the second Saturday of December.
MORE TO DO AFTER THE TOUR:
- The Bramwell Depot Coal Heritage Trail Interpretive Center: once a bustling station, this rail stop is now a testament to the transportation center it once was.
- The Corner Shop Cafe – The still-working antique soda fountain is the cornerstone of The Corner Shop, serving up Appalachian diner-style dishes. You can also browse the quirky stock of old-fashioned gifts
- Bramwell shops- Among the businesses on Main Street are antique shops full of treasures of all sorts, with other trinkets wait to be discovered among the gift shop shelves.
- Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine– Head underground to tour an actual mine site, then explore the Coal Heritage Museum
- Pinnacle Rock State Park– Climb this unusual sandstone formation up 3,00 feet to the scenic overlook at the top
Which historic site around Bramwell is your favorite?