Relive the Gilded Age in BramwellJune 8, 2018
Step back in time in Bramwell! This little town in Mercer County was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States, and today, you can stroll down the same brick-paved streets of Millionaire Row during the Spring Tour of Homes.
History of Bramwell
It’s no secret that the coal industry was booming in southern West Virginia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1880s, the Pocahontas coalfields were discovered in Pocahontas, VA, only a short distance from Bramwell. Thousands of laborers moved to the area to work mining coal.
In 1883, a civil engineer from New York named Joseph H. Bramwell arrived in what would become Bramwell seeking his fortune in the coal industry. He is responsible for naming the town, which was founded in 1888.
As the years passed, millionaires from across the country moved to Bramwell to make their fortune in the coal industry. When they arrived, they built gigantic, beautiful homes, complete with ornate woodwork, elaborate stained glass, indoor swimming pools, large gardens and lavish ballrooms. More than 14 millionaires inhabited Bramwell at one time, including the “richest man in Bramwell,” I.T. Mann – he was worth over $86 million. The town was also home to the Bank of Bramwell, supposedly one of the richest banks in America.
The town’s original pharmacy is still standing and was one of the first stores to sell Chanel No. 5. Today, instead of selling expensive perfume and other luxury items, the pharmacy has been turned into a cafe called The Corner Shop; the original soda fountain is still operational! The Bramwell Train Depot is now home to a museum, featuring exhibits on coal mining and the history of the town. Bramwell was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Spring Tour of Homes
The coal boom in Bramwell may be over, but the mansions that line Main Street serve as a reminder that this little town used to be one of the richest in America. On June 9, you’ll have the opportunity to tour the Victorian mansions and learn more about the people who built them. On this self-guided walking tour, you’ll get the rare chance to step inside these elaborate homes, where costumed interpreters await to bring the Victorian Era to life with compelling stories.
Tickets for the Spring Tour of Homes are $15 and may be purchased in advance or at the Bramwell Presbyterian Church. This is one of two yearly opportunities to tour the homes of historic Bramwell. The homes will open again for the holiday season on December 8, 2018.
Have you been to Bramwell? Which elaborate mansion is your favorite?