The Times West Virginian

Local News

May 13, 2013

Jim Rote dedicates years to restoring George Pinkney Morgan House

RIVESVILLE — Once upon a time, the George Pinkney Morgan House was left to fall in on itself.

Registered in the county in 1850, but believed based on architecture to date to the post-colonial era of the late 1700s, the homestead of the Morgan family had been filled with trash, used as a deerstand and just plain neglected.

But in 1999, Jim Rote purchased the house for a song and has spent the past 13 years working on restoring it to its original state, preserving a valuable piece of Rivesville’s historical heritage.

“I was born right across the street from this house,” Rote said. “I have a keen interest in the community and saving our history.”

Like many West Virginia natives, he spent a portion of his adult life working away from home in various professions, but he never really forgot about the old abandoned house.

“In my early childhood, when I was growing up, I always liked the Sugar Lane part of Rivesville,” he said. “I had really good memories, and this poor house just sat here in ruins. It had been abandoned for about 25-30 years.”

When he bought the property, Rote didn’t know its history, only that he liked the building and wanted to save it. It wasn’t until he did some research that he fully realized its significance.

“Rivesville has a lot of history that people aren’t even aware of,” Rote said.

For instance, he pointed out a distant obelisk marking the spot where David Morgan, who developed the area eventually becoming Fairmont, fought raiding Native Americans to save his son and daughter.

Morgan is buried under a spreading pine tree on the property.

The house itself has taken a lot of work to get to the state it’s in today, and Rote still has plenty to do.

“It’s been a lot of trials and tribulations,” he said. “The house had been boarded up and mistreated, and people would dump garbage in the house.

“It has a second-story porch and people would sit up there with a cooler and a gun and do their hunting the easiest way they could,” he said.

So when he first started cleaning up, the mess and neglect made the place seem a little spooky.

But after hauling seven dump trucks of garbage out of the property and starting on renovations, the place has brightened up.

“We ran underground electricity to the property. Then it needed a roof; most of the roof was missing when I bought it, so we had to put a roof on it, then we had to repair most of the windows,” and the list goes on, he said.

Though it’s not finished, Rote has done his best to model historical accuracy as much as possible. The dining room, for example, is matched to the same shade of blue as the original house based on careful paint removal and matching.

“Except for one room, it has all the original floors, all the original woodwork, all the original mantles, etc.,” he said.

What isn’t original has been carefully selected at estate sales and antique stores.

The house has a number of features unfamiliar to the modern family. For instance, Rote is still working on installing a bathroom, as the house did not originally have one, dating before the invention of indoor plumbing.

The kitchen was also originally located outside, with a “serving” kitchen adjacent to the dining room.

“They would bring, let’s say a turkey, they’d bring the whole turkey in here, carve it up and pass it through (a recess in the cupboard) to the people (in the dining room),” he explained.

The serving kitchen also has two entrances: “One for the master and one for the servant,” Rote said. He believes the original owners of the house had two slaves who lived in a less elegant portion of the house almost entirely separated from the owners’ quarters.

“You don’t see that in the rest of the house because the servants didn’t go unless they were specifically requested,” he said.

The house was listed on the National Historic Register in 2003.

“It was a chance to grab a piece of history, and hopefully it will be finished this summer and I’ll be able to live in it instead of walking through and daydreaming all the time,” he said.

There’s still work to be done, and Rote said there always will be, but he thinks it’ll be livable by the end of summer.

Rote does tours on occasion and hopes to work with the Marion County Historical Society over the year to do some events so people can see the progress made on the house and learn more about one of the most fascinating periods of Marion County history.

Email Jonathan Williams at or follow him on Twitter @JWilliamsTWV.

Text Only
Local News
  • Military Kids 1 - CB.jpg Military children honored for their sacrifices: PHOTOS

    Military children were honored for their sacrifices Tuesday at the Hershel “Woody” Williams Fairmont Armed Forces Reserve Center.
    The event was planned to coincide with Purple Up! Day, a nationwide initiative that encourages everyone to wear purple in honor of military children across the country.

    April 16, 2014 4 Photos

  • Child health: ‘Room for improvement’

    Children living in Marion County are doing better in some respects than children in other counties in the state, according to a national study released Tuesday.
    “The 2013 West Virginia Kids Count Data Book,” published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, compares states and their counties to each other and to the national average of various areas of child health.

    April 16, 2014

  • Another civil suit filed by Marple

    Though a civil case in already pending in U.S federal court, former state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple has filed another civil suit over her 2012 termination.
    The main difference between the two cases, apparently, is that in addition to naming the West Virginia Board of Education as a plaintiff, former president of the board and current member Wade Linger is individually named in the suit as a defendant.

    April 16, 2014

  • County man indicted for murder of infant

    A Marion County man has been indicted on charges for the death of an infant.
    Marcus Curtis Lewis, 55, was indicted for charges of first-degree murder and death of a child by a parent, guardian of custodian by Taylor County grand jurors Monday. Judge Alan D. Moats is expected to arraign Lewis on Friday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Three arrested on charges stemming from armed robbery

    Three men were arrested in the Fairmont area on charges stemming from an armed robbery.
    Corey Joseph Richardson, 35, of Montgomery Village, Md.; Stephen Joseph Brewington, 26, of Allston, Mass.; and Wallace Anthony Booth Jr., 21, of Fairmont, were arrested on Tuesday and charged with robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit a felony.

    April 16, 2014

  • marcus lewis.jpg Marion County man indicted in murder of infant

    A Marion County man was indicted by the Taylor County grand jury Monday on charges for the death of an infant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Weather Pic 1 - CB.jpg Marion County soaks up the warm rays of spring

    Spring is in the air.
    Trees are beginning to blossom in Fairmont, sprinkling the streets with pink, white and yellow blossoms.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • White Hall to address Route 250 traffic woes

    Possible traffic patterns in White Hall could change.

    April 15, 2014

  • Fairview adding more customers to water system

    The Town of Fairview hopes to add more new customers to its water system as soon as possible.

    April 15, 2014

  • Arrests made on burglary and possession charges

    Two Fairmont men were arrested after one of them allegedly broke into a home.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads