BETHANY, W.Va. – An extensive restoration and renovation project is nearing completion at Bethany College’s historic Pendleton Heights, the traditional home of Bethany’s presidents for more than 150 years.
With Phase One of the project completed and Phase Two well under way, Dr. Scott D. Miller and his wife, Annie, have become Bethany’s first presidential family to reside on campus at Pendleton Heights since the retirement of Dr. D. Duane Cummins in 2002.
“I grew up on a college campus,” said Miller, who took office as the College’s 19th president on Jan. 1, “and I believe it’s important for the president to be part of his or her college community. Pendleton Heights is a terrific example of the living history you encounter at every turn in Bethany. Annie and I are excited and humbled by the fact that we are living in a house that has sheltered everyone from United States presidents to runaway slaves over the past 160 years. History has literally walked the halls of our beautiful new home.”
Built between Sept. 1, 1841 and June 20, 1842, Pendleton Heights is the oldest building on the Bethany campus. It was designed and built by William Kimbrough Pendleton, a member of the College’s original faculty. Pendleton served for 25 years on the faculty before being named president upon the death of founder and President Alexander Campbell in 1866. Pendleton lived in the house until retiring in 1887 after 22 years as president.
Pendleton Heights was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1975. Countless dignitaries, including United States presidents, senators and governors, have found a welcome there while visiting the College. The stately three-story brick residence also served as a station on the Underground Railroad that assisted slaves escaping to the North during the Civil War.
Phase One of the restoration and renovation project, the exterior phase, was completed in October. Among the major facets were the installation of a new slate roof, reconstruction of the front veranda, restoration of all windows, installation of new copper gutters and downspouts and masonry pointing.
Phase Two began in late October. Highlights of the interior phase include the installation of five forced air furnaces/air-conditioning units and ductwork. New plumbing is also being installed along with a 400-amp electrical system. Extensive work is being done on the kitchen and all six bathrooms. Carpeting will be installed on all three floors and walls will be skim-coated and painted.
The renovation and restoration of the second and third floors at Pendleton Heights is virtually complete. The Miller family is residing on the upper floors while work continues on the first floor, which includes the dining room, living room, den, parlor and kitchen.
Funding for the project was aided by a federal grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures Historic Preservation Fund obtained through the Office of Rep. Alan B. Mollohan. Major funding was also provided through the generosity of two Bethany College alumni, Dr. George M. “Pete” Peterson ’51 of Hudson, Ohio and Neil Christman ’55 of Alpharetta, Ga. Christman is a member of the Bethany College Board of Trustees.