Call and ask about our 2009 advertising rates!
(304) 354-6917

If These Walls

       Could Speak . . .

The Mansion House

by Robin Gordon and Maricia Mlynek


Updated on Wednesday*:

Community Calendar


Around Calhoun 

The Publisher's Desk

Week in History

Waste Not, Want Not

Classified Ads

This Week in Photos


Hildreth Supply

Calhoun Realty

Venezia Law

Guest Book

As this new series begins, we confess that we are uncertain of exactly what life was like in the early 1900’s in Calhoun.

We are working to collect information from families, books, articles and documents about some of the great homes in the area.

We have found that anyone who has a taste for history could spend hours on the four-course meal that is Calhoun County.

Our first serving is a scrumptious delicacy called the “Mansion House.” Located on Rt. 16 in Orma, this beautiful house still stands stately and majestic.


Possibly a Colonial-style, with a touch of gingerbread trim, the house looks like it should be on the streets of Philadelphia.

Yet, it sits on a lovely knoll with a brook flowing behind it, tucked nicely into the valley as if the landscape was made for it, not the other way around.

The structure was the original home of Joseph Knotts. Construction began in 1905 and was completed by 1911 as the etched-in date on the chimney stone proclaims.

According to current owners Ernestine and Kenneth Keaton, the Knotts family began living in a log house, than moved into a plank house, until the Mansion House was finished.

The original homestead, which contained a planning mill, grist mill, and rock quarry, was said to be between 500 to 1,000 acres. It was a full- functioning farm.

“Forty men would have to work the scythes each day just to take in the hay,” said Keaton, “The family had hired hands living here full time.”

The house was built from timber--cut, sawed and planed by Andy Parsons in the mill next to the house site.

“At the time,” said Keaton, “enough lumber was planed for three houses to be built by Joe Knotts and his two sons. The total cost of all that timber was $500; all three houses still stand on the West Fork today.”

Kenneth Keaton, with his father’s picture in background.

Stone mason and master carpenter Sam Wayne was to have led the construction, with the help of others, one being Keaton’s grandfather, Isaac Norman, a stone mason from Beech.

Facing the West Fork and the original Creek Road, the Mansion House made people stop and stare, as it still does today.

The original walnut and oak wainscoting is as rich and divine as the day it was crafted. The 10½ foot ceilings are also the original wood, and the design of the hand-hewn banisters is absolutely exquisite. Entryways still welcome guests with the elegance of the original stain glass.

Take a step into the “preacher’s room,” and you can imagine the important guests that must have spent the night in this elite guest room of its day.

Even the two fireplaces are the original stonework, and the mantels that must have warmed several generations of families.

Original mantel.

Originally, the house had five entries and five porches, and it still boasts of 40 windows. Each room is close to 15 feet square, and each bedroom was fitted with plenty of room for a couple of beds.

An antique telephone still hangs on the wall to remind dwellers of a time before high speed internet and cell phones. The “bucket house” and “out house” remain on the property as further evidence of days past and changing times.

Keaton’s parents, George and Judith Ann (Duncan) Keaton, purchased the Mansion House in 1946. He and Ernestine have worked on restoring and repairing the house since 1996.

Their hard work and respect of the structure’s antiquity and elegance has made a beautiful piece of Calhoun history a part of the past that will be appreciated into the future.

Kenneth and Ernestine have been married for 52 years. They became sweethearts when they met at Calhoun County High School. Ernestine was a Brannon from Little White Oak and graduated in 1955.

The Keatons moved back to Calhoun County 12 years ago and have made the Mansion House a beautiful home once again.

“We have done our best to protect everything that we could, and yet remain comfortable,” said Ernestine.

Ernestine and Emily Keaton.

The tales that could be told by the walls of the Mansion House are countless.

From the stories of an old aunt and uncle napping in the caskets they had built in one of the bedrooms, to children sliding down the low banisters, one could imagine many a story or legend being told as the family sat around the table.

The walls have stood for a century, and, if nothing else, they testify to the years gone by and the legacy of the people who once called the Mansion House home.

Slow down a little on your next trip along Rt. 16. The Mansion House still stands--and is as beautiful today as it was in 1911.

Rear of the Mansion House now faces Rt. 16.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

Publisher's Desk

Calhoun County Map

Calhoun Map

Important Links




Chronicle Staff

Homeland Security

WV Your Way

WV Travelers

Contact the webmaster.

Free Guestbook
Calhoun Chronicle's Guestbook

Encounter Calhoun County
SportsFuneral NoticesSubscribeAdvertiseSubmit NewsPrivacy Policy

© 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Calhoun County Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 400, Grantsville, WV 26147