CARROLL COUNTY, Va. -- High atop a ridge in Fancy Gap is a piece a local history.
“I think it's an architectural gem,” said Mark Harmon with the Carroll County Historical Society. “There is nothing like it in the world.”
The home was built between 1910 and 1911 by local farmer and businessman Sidna Allen.
“To see how people can do the things they did with the material that they had and the time that it took — these were real craftsmen,” he said.
But the history of the stately old home is marred by tragedy.
“Floyd Allen was the prime mover of the whole thing,” said Ronald Hall who has written several books about the Carroll County Courthouse Shootout of 1912. “It has feelings of the old west for some reason and people seem to be enthralled with the violence aspect of it.”
Floyd Allen, Sidna Allen's brother, was on trial for an altercation he had with local law enforcement. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to a year in prison.
“When the judge told the deputy to take care of the prisoner Floyd Allen stood up and said, "Gentlemen, I am not going," and that's when the gunfight happened,” said Hall. “It lasted somewhere between a minute and 90 seconds.”
The bullets were fired between the Allen family and officers. When the smoke cleared, five people were dead. Floyd Allen and his son Claude were executed for their part and Sidna Allen was eventually sent to prison leaving his beloved house behind.
The Allen family lost the home and eventually, it fell into disrepair.
“You can see a lot of work needs to be done,” said Harmon who along with the historical society is working to save the home. “The goal is to restore the house to the way it was in 1912 — to be a historic house, to give tours.”
Each room reflects Sidna Allen`s vision of grand elegance.
“This is a fireplace he imported from Italy with golden inlay,” pointed Harmon. “You can see the woodworking the craftsmanship that went into it all.”
Despite the ugliness of Sidna Allen`s story the beauty of the old home is undeniable.
“He wanted it to be really special and that's why it’s a one of a kind home.”
To help raise money for the preservation work the historical society kicks off the performance of "Thunder in the Hills" this weekend at the historic Carroll County Courthouse. The play runs through April.
For more information about the play and tickets visit https://www.facebook.com/CarrollMuseum/