A Treasure Lost: The Withrow House

Withrow HouseOn Thursday at 7 p.m., Mary McPherson Highsmith will bring to life the story of her ancestral home and one of Waynesboro’s lost treasures, the Withrow House. Built in 1826, the Federal style home stood at 406 West Main for 129 years and was an important landmark in Downtown Waynesboro.

Over the course of its lifetime, the house was owned by just two families: the Wayts and the Withrows. The Withrow family took possession of the house in the late 1840s. They occupied the home until it was sold in 1955. Evelyn MacPherson, the mistress of the house in 1945 was quoted in the News-Virginian as saying “One of the greatest compliments ever paid the house is that it is hospitable – even to the dead.” She explained that before Waynesboro had modern funeral homes, neighbors and friends of the family were often buried from the house because it was centrally located and spacious enough to accommodate crowds.

The home was also used during the Civil War to billet both Confederate and Union soldiers. At one time, a cannon ball even went through the street side of the cottage that was used as a school house by “Lou” Withrow. Later, during the years the MacPhersons occupied the home, they took in paying guests, at least 20 of whom were single women who were employed in Waynesboro at the time. Some of these women were married in the Withrow living room.

In 1955, the home was demolished to make way for a series of stores that occupied the site: J. J. Newberry, Heilig-Myers, Main Street Discount, and most recently Under the Roof & Ann Arden.

The monthly history lectures are a joint project of the Waynesboro Heritage Foundation and the Wayne Theatre Alliance. “This joint project is in keeping with both our organizations mission to promote the arts and culture of Waynesboro,” said Dr. Clair Myers, Executive Director of the Wayne Theatre Alliance. “The monthly history lectures are fascinating glimpses of the past and its influence on the present.”

The September 19, 2013 history lecture will begin at 7:00pm. There is no admission fee to the monthly history lectures, but donations of at least $5 are suggested.