The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Pence Springs Hotel Historic District

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Pence Springs Hotel, now Greenbrier Academy for Girls

Northwest of the community of Pence Springs, WV, in eastern Summers County, eight miles southeast of Alderson, WV, the Pence Springs Hotel National Historic District protects the Pence Springs Hotel, its namesake, the Pence Spring, and the grounds included in the resort's 33 acre park.

The last of the mineral-spring resorts to be developed in West Virginia, the facility was a watering hole for elite guests from the late 1880s until 1929 when the the crash of the Wall Street Stock Market left many of its patrons in dire straights. The site in its present form was developed by merchant and civic leader Andrew P. Pence (1839-1915), who had purchased the spring and hotel site in 1893 from Jesse Beard, who had built a small frame springhouse at the site. Pence was able to realize the possibilities of development and built a first hotel on a hill near the spring and enclosed the spring in concrete. Pence was the grandson and Elizabeth Graham, who had been captured during an Indian raid nearby in 1772.

After the first Pence hotel burned in 1916, the family commissioned construction of the present-day hotel structure, which was to be the last of such period hotel buildings built in southern West Virginia. The three-story brick structure was designed in the Classical Revival style, which was typical of the region's similar resorts, though perhaps because of its later construction, elements of the style may have been more loosely interpreted than at resorts such as White Sulphur Springs or Sweet Sulphur Springs. The building's hallmark south facade is dominated by four three-store squared columns that open onto a lawn that overlooks the valley of the Greenbrier River.

Following the stock market collapse, several commercial schemes were proposed to manage the hotel, which continued to serve as a local gathering place. In 1947, the State of West Virginia converted the resort into a state prison for women. However, in 1983 part of the property was transferred to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources and several parcels were sold to Ashby Berkeley, a restaurateur who later purchased the entire estate and reopened the hotel to the public. Berkeley sold the hotel to its current private owners in 2006. The estate is now the site of the Greenbrier Academy for Girls.