Grandma Moses House Safe for Now

Medium-sized image unavailable for this photo.
Mount Airy is the only house Anna and Thomas Moses owned
in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, where they lived for almost
two decades.

Credit: Nancy Sorrell

Grandma Moses' house almost died last night.

The only house Anna Mary Robertson Moses ever owned, Mount Airy in Augusta County, Va., along with another county-owned house, won't be demolished anytime soon.

"They're off life support, but they're still in intensive care," says Nancy Sorrells, chairwoman of Augusta County's board of supervisors.

At a meeting last night, the county's board of supervisors tabled a vote on demolition and instead voted 4-3 to form a committee to explore options for the buildings' future.

Grandma Moses (1860-1961) and her husband, Thomas, lived in the Shenandoah Valley for almost 20 years. They owned just one house, the two-story brick structure built in the early 1800s, burying five of their 10 children nearby. Today the house is isolated in an industrial park. The 19th-century Yount-Gochenour House, zoned commercial, also has "access problems," Sorrells says.

"I'm really concerned that there might be pressure to demolish these buildings just for their parts," says Terry Graham, spokeswoman for APVA Preservation Virginia. "We were hoping to have the option to see preservationists from Virginia brought to the table to discuss options—not to say, 'You have to save these buildings,' but let's look at the possible economic solutions."

Sorrells is optimistic after yesterday's meeting. Each of the seven supervisors will appoint a member to the committee, which will present its options to them in October.

"The houses have a much better chance now than they ever have so far," she says. "Virginia has good historic tax credit laws, and we've got strong historic-preservation models. I can't imagine that this community could not come back with some viable options." 

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