Open House At The Briar Patch In Hillsboro During Little Levels Heritage Fair

Hillsboro, WV – The Briar Patch was originally an early pioneer cabin, built of logs, probably dating to the late 1700’s. It has a long and colorful history, and this weekend you can attend an open house at the cabin during the Little Levels Heritage Fair in Hillsboro.

In 1863, the building was located south of Hillsboro but close enough to the Battle of Droop Mountain to serve as a triage location for wounded soldiers. Later, the cabin was used as an ante in a local poker game. The winner took down the structure and moved it to its present location north of town, not far from the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace.

Over time, two small additions were added and new doors and windows were cut. Mary Moore McLaughlin, better known as Sissy, purchased the cabin a few years ago.

“I bought it at auction in October of 2007” says McLaughlin. “I was looking for a place up here where I could have a shop and possibly live there if I needed too.”

McLaughlin lived in Charleston, SC for several years, running a successful Antiques business. After tiring of the hustle and bustle of a large city, she and her former husband moved to Lewisburg, WV, where they purchased and renovated the old Princess Theater in the downtown area. They later sold it to Irish Pub owner Patrick O’Flaherty.

She moved to Hillsboro about three years ago, in part to be closer to her sister Ginger Must and her family.

With her share of the proceeds from the sale of theater and a little family financial help, McLaughlin turned to her nephew Andrew Must. He and fellow Briery Knob Builders – Ezra Cedarleaf, Clay Condon, Caleb Diller, Harley Squires, David Kershner, Adrieanne Jergens, Wes Burke, Adam Cumbashot, and Gabe Pino from Texas, did all of the restoration work on the cabin.

It was not an easy task. The foundation was rotten from the damp and termite damage. The inside walls, beneath layers of paper and paneling, were infested with rat’s nests. McLaughlin says she knew she was putting the project in good hands.

“Yeah, I put Andrew in charge, but he had a couple of people help him get started like Ezra, [who] knew more than he did about foundations, and they dealt with the whole foundation mess, thanks to Ezra” she says. “At one point he said, you know he’d probably be better off just starting from scratch. If we’d known what we were getting into, we might not have done it.”

Along the way, Must and company also picked up some old time skills like how to chink a log cabin. And some items such as a spiral staircase were donated to the project. You can see the results of the restoration this weekend during the Little Levels Heritage Fair. McLaughlin says they’ll have an open house on Saturday, although not all parts of the house will be open to the public, such as the spiral staircase and the upper areas, due to safety concerns. She will have refreshments available during the open house.

The Brier Patch is also the home of Briery Antiques. McLaughlin says she’ll have a few of her antiques on display this weekend. She invites people to come by after the festival to see the rest.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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