Morris Harvey House & Historic Fayetteville


Winding through the mountainous roads of West Virginia, passing through small towns that are barely a dot on the map, my husband and I were embarking on an anniversary trip. Not a wedding anniversary, we are seven and a half months away from reaching that, but our dating anniversary. On St. Patrick’s day of 2013, my husband asked me to be his girl friend, and every day I am thankful for that. Two years later, we were celebrating all of the laughter and love we have shared.

Our trip started off Sunday afternoon when my husband picked me up from work, car packed and dinner in tow. We shared a delicious meal of chicken nuggets, French fries, and Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s as we set off. The plans of the trip, including the location, had been kept secret from me until we were on the road. Once I was situated in the car with my dinner, my husband handed me a backpack and informed me that everything we need for our trip was in the bag, starting with a letter explaining where we were going. Fayetteville, West Virginia was our destination. Labeled “the Coolest Small Town,” the city held a list of promising attractions. One of them being the filming location of my favorite movie, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. Although the movie was set in Frazier’s Bottom, West VA, (a small row of five houses that we drove through) there were several scenic shots that took place in Fayetteville. It is also home to the New River Gorge Bridge, which at the time it was built was the tallest bridge in the world of its kind. The town is also home to several unique restaurants such as the original Pies & Pints, the Secret Sandwich Society, and Cathedral Café, all walking distance from the B&B.

We followed the directions to our destination, 201 Maple Avenue. We curved and swerved our way through the area until we reached Maple, where we anxiously counted the house numbers, looking for our bed and breakfast. We stopped in front of a house labeled 201, completely puzzled. It looked like someone’s house, not a bed and breakfast. I began pestering my husband with questions about where he heard about this place and if he was sure of the address and if it was a legitimate location. We re-entered the address in our GSP, and it told us we had arrived at our destination. We kept studying the house, convinced something was wrong. After about five minutes of confusion and slight panic, we decided to drive farther down the road. Eventually we crossed a main road and realized we were now on west Maple avenue, and quickly found 201 and our home-away-from-home for the next several days. We pulled in the small gravel lot at the back of the house, and were greeted by Bernie, the man who runs the Morris Harvey House Bed and Breakfast. When asked if we had any trouble finding the house, we relayed our mishap of directions, to which Bernie responded, “That’s my friend, she probably would have offered you dinner!”

We entered the house through the back door, and found our room, the Rosa Suite, directly to our right. Bernie gave us a quick tour of the down stairs, gave us permission to explore the rest of the house as we were the only guests that night, and left us with a list of recommended restaurants for dinner. I toured the house, taking in every early 20th century detail from the stained glass windows to the seven ornate fireplaces. Two of the five guest suites have private baths, and the others share a hall bath. The first floor of the house contained only the Rosa Suite, and the common living areas such as the kitchen, dining room, family room, and formal living room. The second floor contained the Harvey Room, which shared a bathroom with the Library room, and the Grand Suite with its own bath. The second floor also contained an observation window showing a giant metal tub, which was once used to collect rain water to use for a type of indoor plumbing. The loft area contained a bathroom, sitting area, and two bedrooms. The entire house is decorated with Harvey family photos, as well as souvenirs and travel items and photos from the Soros family. Also framed throughout the house are news paper articles that have been written about the House, the renovations, and the Harvey family.

While exploring and snooping, I learned the history of the man whose house we were staying in. Morris Harvey was a prominent man in society in his day. He was a businessman, banker, philanthropist, sheriff, and devout Methodist. Seizing an opportunity, Harvey bought the land that the future C&O Railroad was to be built on, and profited greatly from the endeavor. The University of Charleston, formerly the Barboursville Seminary, was named after Harvey for a time after he paid off their outstanding debt. Harvey did not live to see his dream of a Charleston campus for the school, but the school still honors him with the Morris Harvey Division of Arts and Sciences.

 After settling in to the room and exploring the house, we decided to walk the small town for dinner. We found out that our first choice, a Mexican restaurant, no longer existed when we arrived. Our next choice was Secret Society Sandwich Shop, but they were only open for twenty more minutes, so we walked on to our next choice, Pies and Pints, only to find out they had already closed for the night. Being a small town of 2,000 people, dinner options were limited. We ended up caving on our resolve not to eat chain food and picked up Taco Bell.

We spent the evening flipping through the TV channels and learning about the history of the house. I discovered a hidden gem, a photo book of renovations of the house. Upon looking through the book, I discovered quite a bit of history about the house and its owners. The house was built in 1902 by Morris Harvey for himself and his wife Rosa. Morris passed away six years after the house was built, and Rosa remained in the house until her death in 1921. The happenings of the house for the next seventy years is unknown to me, until a couple purchased the house in 1992. George and Elizabeth Soros spent the next two years renovating the house, a “labor of love” as Elizabeth (Betty) called it. George & Betty researched the house’s history, as well as the Harveys, and tried to maintain original elements of the house. Several stained glass windows were restored and kept, most with the Fleur-de-Lis pattern that Morris loved. George designed, edged, and planted a garden in the front yard, where a dead tree had been removed, in that same pattern. Pictures of the house from the previous decades show alterations to the house that were made, like windows removed and trim added to the front, but no reason was found for these cosmetic changes.

The Soros were originally unsure of what to do with the house, but decided to turn it into a B&B. The couple operated it together until George’s passing five years later. Betty ran for the house on her own for two more years. The next five years were spotty for the house as a B&B, with Betty only opening the house up for guests occasionally. She was more vested in her family life than in operating the house, as that had been more her husband’s dream than her own.

A friend of the Soros family, Bernie, visited the house frequently for holidays. He reminisced about watching the parades from the front-row seat of the porch on the house. One fourth of July celebration, Betty mentioned that she was interested in retiring and selling the house. Bernie, burnt out from a corporate job, was looking for something new. The timing was perfect, and Bernie purchased the house from Betty.

The next morning, Bernie greeted us with a delicious breakfast of 
omelets, potato pancakes, fresh fruit, and toast. The dining room, lit up by the bright sunshine streaming in through the many windows, was set with brightly colored placemats and matching Fiestaware Dishes. Bernie gave us a few tips for our excursions that day, and a few books and pamphlets to help guide us. We packed a map, bottle of water, and camera and headed out for an adventure.

Our first stop was the Babcock State Park to see the Glade Creek Grist Mill. Built in 1976 out of pieces of old mills, this mill is a recreation of Cooper’s Mill, which operated in the park before it was known as a state park. During the season, visitors to the park can purchase cornmeal and buckwheat ground by the mill. The mill was closed for the season, but we were able to see the outside of the mill as well as take a stroll down one of the walking paths that ran next to the river in the park.

Our next stop was the New River Gorge. We stopped into the visitor’s center for a little history lesson about the bridge before exploring the area for ourselves.  The area was composed of several mining communities, which flourished until the early 1990’s when the demand for coal faded out. The New River Gorge Bridge is a landmark in West Virginia. When the bridge was built in the early 1970’s, it was the highest bridge of its kind in the world. Due to the mining communities that were scattered in the area, special support had to be built for the bridge to avoid the interrupting the mines. We walked down a flight of stairs that led to an observation deck overlooking the river and bridge. Just as the sign predicted, the walk down was a breeze, and the walk back up was treacherous. But, the view was definitely worth the workout. After leaving the visitor’s center, we followed signs for Fayette Station, which led us on a narrow, winding road down the side of the mountain. We followed the road until we reached the river, and parked and walked along the river for a while. After crossing the river on a much smaller bridge, we began the twisting journey up out of the valley. We stopped several times to take in the breath-taking view of the bridge and river below it. On a perfect weather day like we had, with nothing but sunshine and blue skies, it’s hard not to fall in love with the view.  

We ate lunch at Pies & Pints, a small-chain pizza place of seven restaurants. Our waitress informed us we were eating at the very first Pies & Pints, and she filled us in on the history of the restaurant. Her friend owned a café in Fayetteville, but grew tired of it and moved to Utah, where she met a man from Long Island. Together, they moved back to Fayetteville to provide the town with great pizza. Our waitress told us how her friend and new husband tried out all kinds of recipes on her and her family. Once opened, they outgrew their original location and moved to a larger building. The unique thing about their pizza is the sauce  - it is drizzled on top of the toppings (making them bottomings, I suppose). We enjoyed a slice of pizza and a beer brewed at a local brewery two miles away from the restaurant. While unable to tour the brewery, we did do a quick drive-by.

After lunch we spent the afternoon relaxing on the large front porch of the house, enjoying the sunshine and watching the small-town life happening around us. Once school let out, there were groups of kids walking the streets, heading off to various activities. We saw people stopping by the small post office. We saw big pickup trucks with loud exhaust drive by. We saw neighbors out for a stroll. Life seemed peaceful and content in this small, mountain town.

For dinner we ate at the Secret Sandwich Society, which was in the building Pies & Pints started in and started by the same people. We dined on the deck, surrounded by rope lights and lanterns. All their sandwiches are named after presidents, and I enjoyed a Kennedy, which is roasted pork loin, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, roasted garlic mayo, and mustard, accompanied by Society Chips. My Husband had a Rawhide Burger, an over-easy egg, jalapeno, roasted garlic mayo and pepperjack cheese served with loaded Society Fries.

After dinner we strolled through the town, and ended our evening by relaxing with a long, hot bubble bath in the claw-footed bathtub in our bathroom. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.
Over breakfast the next morning, we met another guest who had checked into the B&B with his wife the night before. We shared travel stories, as they were also on an anniversary trip. He recommended a restaurant for lunch, Hillbilly Hotdogs, which was in the direction we had to travel to go home that day. The restaurant was featured on the FoodNetwork’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. We decided it was worth the small detour.

Before leaving Fayetteville, we stopped for a cinnamon roll at the Cathedral Café, an old church that had been turned into a coffee shop. We shared a cappuccino and cinnamon roll, and observed the life of the café. The walls were covered in chalk-board with various specials and quotes written on them. Irish music played from a CD player, a tune we recognized from our trip to Ireland was a welcomed sound to our ears. Business meetings, college students, writers, and friends gathered at various tables to accomplish their tasks, whether business or social. The barrista greeted customers by name as they entered the establishment. Above the café was a shop called The Attic, which had an eclectic garage sale feel to it.

It took about an hour and a half of driving to reach Hillbilly Hotdogs, located on the Ohio River bank. We pulled into the parking lot, and I was immediately overwhelmed. The place looked like a stream of shacks, connected by flea-market nik-naks that serve no purpose in life but to clutter. As we passed the junk cars and metal signs and old toys, I wasn’t even sure how to enter the restaurant. My husband somehow pulled the right door and we entered the tiny area, where we ordered hot dogs and fries. We ate our lunch sitting in an old school bus covered in signatures of previous guests. I had a West Virginia Dog (minus the onion) of Hot Dog Sauce and mustard. My husband ate a Fire Dog, a combination of habanero sauce and Hot Dog Sauce. Ten minutes after finishing his dog, he was still lamenting the slow-burn of the sauce on his tongue.


After filling the gas tank at an old-fashioned pump, we followed the road alongside the Ohio River, loving our scenic drive home. Watching the sunlight glint off of the river, we rolled the windows down and let the warm air fill our car. We sang along with the radio at the top of our lungs, yet we barely heard each other over the sound of the wind whipping through the car, my hair blowing wildly in my face.

My conception of West Virginia definitely shifted on this trip. Like most people, I had the idea that West Virginia was mountains and hillbillies. While the state contains its fair share of both, it is much more; it is a historic gem. All over the town of Fayetteville are historical markers referencing the long-ago years the buildings were built. There is a sign in the town center telling about the Battle of Fayetteville in the Civil War. There are buildings that existed before electricity and running water. The town is a beautiful mixture of the past and the future existing right alongside each other. There are new restaurants right down the street from historic landmarks. There are new state parks with attractions from fresh ground cornmeal to horseback riding. There is a guided tour that leads guests on a walk across the famous bridge. The area is full of endless possibilities for excitement as well as a good history lesson. Although our week-end trip to Fayetteville, West Virginia might not be ideal of travelers looking for high-class shopping and busy city life, it was a perfect relaxing get-a-way for us.  


  1. That sounds like so much fun! I wonder how far that place is from where we are in Richmond... probably not too far! It sounds like a charming little city :)


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