The Oldest House in West Virginia Is more than 289 Years Old

Shannondale River In Charles Town WV
© Christy Rowe/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Marisa Higgins

Updated: November 8, 2023

Share on:


The oldest house in West Virginia is located in Charles Town in the eastern panhandle of the state. The Hermitage, constructed in 1734, is one of very few buildings that have survived the pre-1760 settlement period. The Hermitage was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993. The house received historical status because of its association with General Charles Lee during the Revolutionary War. Keep reading to learn more about the oldest house in West Virginia, which is more than 289 years old.

The Hermitage, built in 1734 by Daniel Burnett, is the oldest house in West Virginia.

Early History of The Hermitage

The Hermitage is one of the few pieces of architecture that remain from the 19th-century in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in part because of its architecture. Additionally, it gained this status because of its connection to Roger Preston Chew. Chew was the commander of Chew’s Battery during the Civil War. Chew’s Battery, also known as Ashby Horse Artillery, was an organized battery of artillery for the Confederate Army.

The Hermitage is a two-story I-House. The house was adapted into an ‘L’ shape when a cookhouse was added to the rear. The south end of the house is the original 18th-century portion. By the 19th century, the exterior had been remodeled to reflect the Victorian style. The property also includes a limestone cottage north of the main house, which faces the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

The original stone cottage house was constructed by Daniel Burnett in 1734 as he was working to establish Barr Iron Works. Burnett’s iron works is believed to be the first of its kind west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The stone cottage is one of the oldest buildings in West Virginia, despite the fact that this particular building has been vacant and deteriorating for years. 

Driveway to The Hermitage, located along Kabletown Road south of Charles Town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. Home to R. Preston Chew, the farmstead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The driveway to the Hermitage is a tree-lined tunnel of green.

©Nyttend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Historical Architecture 

The main property, a two-story farmhouse, is a representation of 18th to 19th-century architecture. The house sits at the end of a tree-lined driveway, and the Blue Ridge Mountains serve as the backdrop to the property. The various add-ons are evidence of the framing and foundation evolutions, and the house was later covered in white fiberglass to signal 20th-century Victorian styling. The interior of the house is a mixture of 18th-century design and Victorian Eastlake renovations. 

The Chew Family and the Hermitage

Colonel Roger Preston Chew is quite historically significant.

©Heyward, Charles Town, Virginia, Photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

As previously mentioned, the main house is associated with the Chew Family, in particular, Colonel Roger Chew. Colonel Roger Preston Chew moved to the Hermitage with his parents Roger Augustine Chew and Sarah Aldridge Chew at the age of three. The family relocated to the Hermitage from Loudoun County, Virginia. After a thorough military training from Virginia Military Institute, Chew joined the Confederate Army at the start of the Civil War.  

He was a distinguished commander, and using his knowledge of the Jefferson County region, he led raids on the Unionists on May 12, 1863, in Charles Town. Because of Chew’s role in the Civil War, the Hermitage was eligible to become a National Register of Historic Places.

Where Is the Hermitage Located on a Map?

The Hermitage is located in at 6338 Kabletown Rd. in Charles Town, situated in Jefferson County in the eastern region of West Virginia. Washington D.C. is around 60 miles northwest of Charles Town.

Visiting Charles Town, West Virginia

Aerial view Harpers Ferry national park

Charles Town is about 20 minutes from Harpers Ferry, WV, a historical town in the Eastern Panhandle.

©Steven Heap/iStock via Getty Images

Charles Town, West Virginia is linked to George Washington’s youngest brother, Charles. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County, West Virginia, and as evidenced by the town’s founding in 1786, Charles Town has a rich history. The Hermitage has been part of Charles Town’s history even before the town was founded. Unfortunately, this historic building is no longer open to the public, but visitors can still see the property from the outside. 

Even though visitors can’t enter the Hermitage, there is no shortage of places to visit in Charles Town. Some of the best historical sites include the Jefferson County Courthouse, Zion Episcopal Church Cemetery, and the Jefferson County Museum. As Charles Town is home to the oldest home in West Virginia, one that dates back 289 years, this town is definitely worth checking out!

Share this post on:
About the Author

Dr. Marisa Higgins is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on travel, places to visit, and fun activities. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and French, a Master of Arts in English, and a Ph.D. in English, and she's spent the past decade teaching, writing, and researching. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband, and their Beagle-Chihuahua, Rumi, and cat, Rory.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.