Bramwell’s Tour of Homes is a storybook adventure

Last updated: June 2, 2022

This June, step back in time in Bramwell, West Virginia. This charming, small town located in Mercer County was once home to the most millionaires per capita in the country. Today, visitors can take a stroll down Millionaire Row — a brick street featuring the sprawling estates of former coal barons. These properties feature fascinating details like intricate woodwork, stained glass windows and stones imported from Europe. 

Getting to Bramwell is a storybook adventure. When driving down Route 52, travelers discover the most unexpected view of the town. 

“It’s like those Easter eggs they put in video games,” Jackie Shahan, president of the Bramwell Theatre Corporation says. “You’re just driving through the mountains, and then you come here, and the street opens up, and the river is coursing through the town. It’s wonderful.” 

In addition to the scenery, the stories of Bramwell’s history also resonate with people, from the coal mining heyday when the bank would roll wheelbarrows of money to the train station to heartfelt stories of a small Appalachian town.

“One of the stories that stands out is when the town was burning, the telephone operator stayed in this little building and called everybody she could, just trying to get people to come to Bramwell,” Shahan says. 

For a more detailed look inside the history of Bramwell, the town hosts historic home tours twice a year. And luckily, the Bramwell Spring Tour of Homes is right around the corner! 

For two decades, visitors have been able to set out on a walking tour through Bramwell. 

“We added things over the years as we saw the need for it. We added music at the homes first and a horse-drawn cart going through town at Christmas,” Shahan says. “Now at The Masonic Temple, we have an art show featuring local artists.” 

The tours are self-guided and visitors can spend as much time as they want in whichever house or part of town. The homes that are open each tour rotate, but there are always at least four to six open to guests. This year the homes open to the public are The Colonel Thomas House, The Pack House, The McElrath House and The Collins House, as well as The Masonic Temple.

The Colonel Thomas House is a Revival Tudor-style home that sits on a knoll overlooking the town. The house, which took three years to complete and cost nearly $95,000 at the time of construction, was the most expensive home in the town. It was built by W. H. Thomas in 1909-1912.

The Collins House as built by Mr. Collins, a coal operator in the Pocahontas.

The Pack House, once owned by J.C. Pack, the general manager of the Buckeye Coal and Coke Company, is a large three-story foursquare gabled home almost identical to its neighbor, The Pritchard House. The two houses sit side-by-side on Brick Street. The Pack House overlooks the Bluestone River and is filled with antique furnishings from the turn of the century.

The McElrath House, built in 1898, is a two-story brick dwelling with a steep roof and cross gable. The home was originally constructed for Dr. Percy John McElrath and his family. Dr. McElrath practiced dentistry then continued his studies of medicine and became a physician in the area for over 30 years. The McElrath House is located on Brick Street in between the first office of the Flat Top Coal Land Association and The Biggs House. 

The Collins House (Curtis Bishop’s) is a beautiful yellow house with a garden. Located on Main Street, this house was built by Mr. Collins, a coal operator in the Pocahontas Mine who also built his family a mansion in Bramwell (The Jairus Collins House). 

Visiting Bramwell is a one-of-a-kind experience, from the magnificent architecture and rich history to the peaceful atmosphere and friendly residents. 

“I sit on my front porch and it’s just quiet, you can hear the birds and then you see the beautiful church,” Shahan says. “You’ve got a little city with the main street and if you’re sitting around, you can see The Corner Shop with the tables outside. But you can also see mountains and trees, so you feel like you’re also out in the country.”
The Bramwell Spring Tour of Homes is on June 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit our events calendar to learn more and purchase tickets.