WILLIAMSON – At one time, the R.T. Price House located in Williamson’s Fairview Addition, was a magnificent example of Tudor Revival style architecture, served as a fine example of a bygone era of local history, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In recent years, the historic structure has been left to crumble into dilapidation.
The Price House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and was transferred from federal ownership by the General Services Administration to the City of Williamson in 1997.
According to a correspondence from the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer in to the United States Corps of Engineers in August of 2008, one possible reason the building has been left to deteriorate is due to flood proofing restrictions that have made it difficult for the city to reuse the structure. The correspondence states, “Although the City has owned the building for approximately ten years, its reuse has been difficult to achieve because of flood proofing restrictions instituted by the Corps… We request that the Corps review the R. T. Price House’s flood proof restrictions. A reuse of the building has not been achieved primarily because of this issue.”
According to documents on the Price House associated with the National Register of Historic Places, “The Price House is significant for its association with a prominent architect in West Virginia History, Levi J. Dean; as a good example of the Revival Style of Architecture of Dean’s and prevalent in W.Va. at the time of construction; and for its association with the Price family and the development of Williamson at this period.”
The documents also state, “The Prices and the Price House are good indicators of the economy and development of Williamson. Redman Turner Price was born in Meally, Kentucky in 1891 and located to Williamson in 1925. This would coincide with the major population explosion of the late 1920’s. He was the founder and chairman of the board of Price Motor. The first garage was on Third Avenue. He then moved to Fourth and took on Buick, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Pontiac, and eventually Cadillac. Coincidentally, the Cadillac dealership coincides with the house construction. The Price Motor Company remained a family business until 1989.” The documents explain that R.T. Price Jr. was born in 1924 and went into business with his father and remained at the family business until it’s closing.
Levi Dean was a popular architect that designed numerous schools, churches, banks and private residences throughout West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. In Williamson, Dean commissioned the East Williamson Baptist Church, the First Presbyterian Church, and the Thabet Apartments. Local schools designed by Dean included Lenore High School, Nolan Grade School, Burch High School, Matewan High School, Gilbert High School, and Phelps High School.
In the documents associated with the National Register of Historic Places, the documents explain how Dean and R.T. Price possibly became acquainted. The documents explain that R. T. Price Jr. was active in the First Baptist Church that was designed by Dean. “It was probably in his capacity as Deacon of the First Baptist Church that the senior Price was acquainted with Levi Dean. Dean had designed the Baptist Church. So it was through this association that the Prices constructed one of the finest homes in Williamson,” the documents state.
The National Register of Historic Places documents note the Tutor Revival Style Dean utilized when designing the Price home. The Price House featured wood detailing, tile work, a breakfast porch, sleeping porch, reading alcove, library, a foyer with a circular stair case featuring sculpture niches and twisted wrought iron banisters and many other ornate details.
When the Price House was added to the National Register of Historic Places, the documents state that overall the house was in good condition excluding some plaster work that had been damaged by flooding. “All surfaces and finishes in the house are in relatively good condition with the exception of some of the plaster work on the first floor, dining room region, which had been damaged by flooding,” the documents state.
However, years of vacancy have taken a toll on the historic structure. With each passing year, the R.T. Price House crumbles further into decay.The Price House has been vacant since the 1990’s.
Previous plans for the R.T. Price House have included a museum, visitor’s center and office. But now the house is dilapidated and sits empty, nothing more than an eyesore.