This month’s featured landmark is Elmwood-on-the-Opequon, a farmstead and farmhouse dating back to the 1830’s. The stuccoed log building was originally a 1 1/2 story single-pen gable-roofed house. Sometime after, the roof was raised to create a full 2-story house, as well as a 2-story timber-frame wood addition.
Elmwood-on-the-Opequon was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, exemplifying the evolution of a typical West Virginia farmstead through the 19th and 20th century. The property itself was originally part of the extensive holdings of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, the Proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia and from which most of the land in Jefferson County was distributed. In 1754 Lord Fairfax sold the tract now containing “Elmwood” to Col. Benjamin Grayson; within months Grayson sold the land to Edward Conner who in 1762 sold the property to Gen. Adam Stephen. General Stephen (1730-1791) was a Revolutionary War hero and the founder of Martinsburg, the county seat of Berkeley County, which he named in honor of Colonel Thomas Bryan Martin, a nephew of Lord Fairfax.
It is not known whether the original log house dates to the Adam Stephen era of ownership. It seems certain, however, that the house was standing by 1830, by which time it was in the ownership of Stephen’s descendants. George Bowers completed the most sweeping changes to the property after his 1905 acquisition, building the addition and the two substantial dependencies in 1906. The Bowers family gave the property the name by which it is still known. “Elmwood-on-the-Opequon” anchored a stock farm which was converted to dairying in the 1950s, with some portions of the agricultural field are still leased for active farm production.
The integrity and evolution of 19th and 20th century farmsteads in Jefferson County is encapsulated in Elmwood-on-the-Opequon.