history of the fleming house

Sitting at the end of First Street, the Fleming House was built 1901 and served as the home for the prominent Fleming family in the early part of the 20th century.

Thomas Walter Fleming was born in 1846 into one of the most historic and important families in the state of West Virginia. Fleming spent his life building Fairmont into an industrial center in the northern part of the state.

He spent two terms as mayor and was elected to the House of Delegates in 1905. During his time in politics, Fleming was responsible for the paving of the first road in Fairmont a well as helping provide the city with its first waterworks system.

His cousin, Aretas Brooks Fleming, was the eighth governor of West Virginia, while his great-grandfather’s brother was Boaz Fleming, the founding father of Fairmont.

Thomas Fleming married Annie Sweeney of Wheeling, and the two were married for more than 60 years. Thomas and Annie died within a week of each other in July, 1937, leaving their children, Allison Sweeney Fleming and his sister Jean M. Wilshire, with the estate, who sold it to the current owners in 1938.

A member of a prominent Wheeling family, Annie invited local women to her elegant home to discuss civic project and social issues. In 1906 the Woman’s Club of Fairmont was organized at the Fleming home Mrs. Fleming as its first president. One of Annie’s last wishes was that the family home be passed to the Woman’s Club. In 1938 the Fleming heirs sold the House to the Club for $25,000.

The architecture of the Fleming House is a mixture of American neoclassical revival and early 20th century motifs that define Beaux-Arts Classicism. The House reflects appropriate Victorian styles of the era. When looking at the House from the outside, everything is symmetrical. Everything repeats itself.

From the street, visible on either side of the front solarium, passers-by can see the porches on either side of the building. These are particularly appealing because of the privacy and street views they provide. These porches cannot be accessed without entering the house.

Once visitors pass through the entrance lined with lincrusta wallpaper and bevel glass doors that lead from the solarium into the house, immediately visible are the grand staircase, fireplace and banquet room featuring a grand piano and grandfather clock. Much of the current furniture was donated, but the original pieces came from Europe and were original to the house. The Flemings purchased this furniture, which is now more than 100 years old, in France. It was then shipped to New York and made its way to Walker’s Landing near where Palatine Park in Fairmont now sits.

The first floor of the mansion features what was once a billiards room, a library, dining room and kitchen. The dining room features not only original silver and china, but also a special feature built into the floor. A button is in the floor under where the headmaster would sit. This would summon the maids and servants to provide assistance to the owners and guests. These buttons were located throughout the house and servants and maids would travel private stair cases to remain unseen.

The second floor features bedrooms where the Fleming family lived. The features “Jack and Jill” bathrooms, as well as plenty of storage and a convenient feature.

There are 14 or 15 closets, and all of the rooms connect. The closet in the master bedroom not only has a door hidden in it that leads to the adjacent room, but also three doors, all with attached mirrors. These allowed Annie Fleming to all angles of herself as she dressed.

The four rooms on the third floor were occupied by the house servants. It is believed the servants were a family as they acted as a driver, a cook, and gardener and housekeeping staff. The center room on this floor features added windows for natural light so the servants could see to better iron the Flemings’ clothes.

Above the third floor is another unique feature of the era. There is a widow’s walk upstairs where women would wait for their husbands to come home.

Since 1938, the House has served as a headquarters, where members work on civic project and host a variety of events, business meeting and historic house tours as they continue efforts to preserve the historic home.