- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - For years, a vacant, two-story house off Pleasant Valley Road in Campbell County didn’t seem like much.

Though its peeling paint and crumbling exterior tell the story of a building in need of some TLC, the home holds a history of a family’s impact on the Lynchburg area that stretches back to the post-Civil War era.

The house, which was the home built by Albert and Judie Megginson around the beginning of the 20th century, is part of Albert Megginson’s history as a prosperous farmer whose philanthropic work benefited the surrounding community. Descendants of the Megginsons are about a year into the process of restoring the house that’s been in a state of disrepair for about 10 years with the intention of opening it as a museum that will tell the history of the family and the area.

According to Joe Kennedy, a descendant of the Megginsons who’s been researching his family’s history since the turn of the century, Albert Megginson purchased land around his home to donate to Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, of which Albert Megginson was a founder. Additionally, he worked to ensure black children in the Lynchburg area could read and write, although he could not do so himself.

Today a road off Concord Turnpike, a cemetery in the area and a two-room school that once educated black children in the area also are named for Megginson.

“It’s not simply family history; it’s evidence of our family’s impact,” Kennedy said of the house and the other records he’s found in his research, which includes deeds, military honors and documents that show Megginson was part of the NAACP of Lynchburg.

According to Kennedy, the family has raised more than $5,000 toward the project. The fundraising got off to a good start, he said, but without money to completely finish the project, the family is forced to proceed slowly. The goal is to raise $25,000.

“We are blessed to have the support of our extended network of family and friends, but we are not a wealthy family. We are doing the best we can with the resources we have available,” Kennedy said. “We are thrilled to be able to preserve our heritage, and we are more concerned with doing so than with how long it takes.”

There is no set timeline for completion of the house restoration, but Kennedy and other family members are happy with the progress. Kennedy said the family recently has formed the Megginson Homestead Committee, made up of seven descendants of the Megginsons who will oversee the restoration project.

“When we took on this project, we knew it was going to be a long-term project, and the family members that were enthusiastic about it in the beginning, they are still as enthused about it, if not more,” said Lorenzo Megginson, a descendant of Albert Megginson who lives near the house and acts as supervisor of the restoration project. “As you move along and people can see the progress, then they get a little more excited about it.”

So far, most of the work on the Megginson Homestead has taken place on the exterior of the building, where a leak in the roof has been repaired and siding has been fixed. With the weather getting colder, the family soon will begin work on the interior of the building.

Next on the agenda, Megginson said, is to remove 1970s wood paneling to restore the house to its 1900 appearance. Then, Kennedy explained, the family will work on restoring the first-floor rooms of the two-story building to what they would have looked like around 1900, but there is no set timeline for the project’s completion.

“We’re always worried about anything that we can’t see, so we have to remove the paneling to see what all we’ll have to do, but we’re hoping that structurally the building is sound,” Lorenzo Megginson said.

Kennedy said he and others involved in the project have been in talks with several architects and preservationists from the area as they take steps toward interior renovations.

“The energy has always been there to do it well and do it right,” Kennedy said, “even if it takes a while.”

In the meantime, following a successful open house last fall, the family hopes to open portions of the house for similar open house events, when they’ll be able to show off historical displays of the both the history of the family and the area.

“We’re just happy to be able to share our story with the Lynchburg community and beyond and to become a full-fledged part of the history of Virginia in a way that has not been possible up to now,” Kennedy said.

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Information from: The News & Advance, https://www.newsadvance.com/

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