Virginia Associations of Museums
Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Contest
This is a handwritten, daily journal of Washington Stephenson, the first elected sheriff of Highland County, Virginia. It documents weather, local happenings, and visitors from 1838 to 1867. Notable inclusions also are documented births and deaths before they were officially recorded in county records. Washington died in 1858, but his son continued the journal until 1867. The journal is very fragile and the money from the contest will go towards preserving it. This is such an irreplaceable part of Highland's history and offers us a unique glimpse of rural life in the Allegheny Mountains before and after the Civil War.
Board Of Directors
assistant director Jones/McCoy house
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Highland Historical Society
Preserving Highland County's past for the enrichment of present and future generations
Some pages are still under construction
The Mansion House
Built in 1851 by George Washington Hull, it is believed to have been the first large brick home in McDowell, and was soon known as The Mansion House.
It served as a hospital during the Battle of McDowell in May 1862 and now houses the McDowell Battlefield Orientation Center.
For many years around the turn of the century, the Bradshaw family operated the Mansion House Hotel to meet the needs of travelers on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.
As time passed, improvements in transportation lessened the need for a hotel stop at McDowell. So in 1930 the Mansion House was sold to Frank and Caroline Ralston. The house remained in the Ralston family until it was sold to the Historical Society in 2001.
Home of the Highland Historical Society
Highland Museum and Heritage Center
2nd weekend in March through October 31
Thursday - Saturday 11:00 - 4:00
Other times by appointment
The Highland Historical Society was originally formed in the 1980s for the purpose of creating and publishing a revised history of the county, The New History of Highland County.
Today the Highland Historical Society is involved in an extensive array of projects dedicated to the preservation of Highland’s precious past. In May of 2005, the Society completed a partial restoration and renovation of the Mansion House and hosted the Grand Opening of the Highland Museum and Heritage Center in McDowell, Virginia.
The Highland Historical Society is also involved in the following projects:
surveying and cataloguing all of Highland County’s historic sites and structures
microfilming all of Highland County’s newspapers dating back to the 1800's
collecting Highland genealogical records and local histories
erecting signs to identify the smaller towns in Highland County
supporting and working with other organizations to provide trails, markers, and parking at the site of the McDowell Battlefield
working to save and preserve the McDowell Battlefield in cooperation with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
financing the restoration of old and rare Highland County documents.
The Highland County Museum at the Mansion House is owned and operated by the Highland Historical Society, a 501c3 corporation.
All donations given to the Highland Historical Society are tax-deductible. The offices of the Society are located at the museum.
Anyone who is interested in preserving the history and heritage of Highland County, Virginia, and of the Virginia Highlands is invited to join The Highland Historical Society by contacting the society by any of the means listed at the bottom of the page. The membership page is under construction.
161 Mansion House Rd
P O Box 63
McDowell, VA 24458