The Harper House
The Harper House, the Victorian mansion built in 1875, was the center of an active commercial hub in Lost River. The house was built by Joseph Harper, one of five sons of Samuel Harper (1802-1885) who moved from Brock’s Gap in what is now Fulks Run, VA, to the Lost River Valley in 1840.
Nothing so represents the rich history of the Lost River Valley as the stately Victorian brick house and the farm and commercial buildings that surrounds it at Mill Gap Road and present day 259.
By 1950, Samuel had become one of the largest landowners in the valley, but what set Samuel apart was his enterprising development of the mills and commercial businesses that formed the focal point of the Lost River community.
In 1888, when Samuel’s son Joseph married Eliza Ann Chrisman, a Branson on her mother’s side with a family connection to the Wood family, the three large landowning families- the Bransons, Woods, and Harpers – were connected.
According to a family history complied by Nancy Powell of Lost River, Eliza was “accomplished in all of the arts expected of a lady of her day. Her needlework and crocheting were exquisite.” Some examples were donated to the Lost River Museum.
Joseph and Eliza had no children and with his death in 1919 and hers in 1927, Powell writes, “the Harper family disappeared from the Lost River Valley exactly 100 years after Samuel Harper began buying land there. All that is left is the sturdy barn, the beautiful house, the old general store, some old church lamps, a few pieces of fine handiwork, some yellowing documents, and a little graveyard in the middle of a field.”
In the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th, Harpers Mills, as the small community was known, included a grist mill, a small woolen mill, ad a timber framed bank barn and general store that survive to this day with modern usage.
Present day residents know the house as the home of Verdie Bowman Teets Muntzing, who, with her first husband J. Wilson Teets and her second husband H. Gus Muntzing, lived there from 1959 until her death at the age of 99.
In the 1960s, she ran the house as an overflow lodge for visitors to a dude ranch, Green Valley Farms, which she operated where the Lost River Retreat Center on Mill Gap Road is now located.
The barn, which sits just below the house and now is home to the Lost River Barn Meat Market and Gift Shop, was used as an office, western wear shop and hall for square dancing. Now visitors can grab up Teet’s Cattle Company meat and Smoke Hole Resort gifts and apparel, on their visits to the Lost River Valley.
Matt and Jill Teets moved into the house after Mrs. Muntzing’s death because “they didn’t want to see it sit empty” and reside there today with their family.
Open Courtesy of Matt & Jill Teets
Location: WV 259 and Mill Gap Road, Lost River
Photo by Albert Mach