McNutt House

the McNutt House, located on North Walker St. in Princeton, has stood in the same location since the American Civil War. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former makeshift hospital will continue to remind those seeing the structure of the bloodshed for the state's beliefs. 

PRINCETON — A relic still watches over Princeton awaiting the arrival of wounded Civil War soldiers in need of care.

The McNutt House, located on North Walker Street, has stood in the same location during the American Civil War. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former makeshift hospital will continue to remind those of the bloodshed for state’s beliefs.

While brother battled brother during the war, Princeton hosted its own civil war battles. These battles saw both union and confederate soldiers slaughtered by the other side.

Prior to these bloody battles, the McNutt House served as the home of Dr. Robert B. Mcnutt. The house, built in 1840, was bought by McNutt for $200 in 1847. Being the only doctor between Charleston and Bristol, Va., McNutt’s services were sought after, according to the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce (PMCCC) website. When originally built, the home consisted of two downstairs rooms, two upstairs rooms, and the foundation was built of hickory logs measuring at 15-inches.

Along with being a doctor, McNutt was also a co-founder of the Princeton Saving Bank which was the only loan organization in town, according to the PMCCC article.

After Confederate forces burned the City of Princeton, the McNutt House was the only structure left standing. Prior to the burning, Union and Confederate forced battled for thirteen hours straight. Once Union forces began pushing the rebels out of the city, Confederate troops being lead by Colonel W. H. Jenifer set it ablaze, according to the website The Clio.

In 1862 during the Battle of Pigeon Roost, opposing sides clashed. Occurring after the burning of Princeton, Union troops attempted to travel to Pearisburg, Va. but instead retreated to Princeton where they battled rebels. During the evening hours, Confederate forces surrounded the Union troops by laying in wait on Pidgeon Roost, which was a ridge overlooking Princeton, according to the West Virginia Public Broadcasting website.

The next morning Union troops were ambushed which resulted in 18 Union casualties and 38 wounded. After this skirmish, the Yankees retreated and fled North, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Of the Union forces, two commanding officers included William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes, which would both later become U.S. presidents. These two officers used the McNutt House as a headquarters for their attacks. The McNutt House was also used as a hospital for troops during this same time, in 1862.

As McNutt was a physician he treated those soldiers who were desperately in need to be seen.

Years after the war renovations were made to the home such as the addition of electricity, running water, additional rooms, and more. Previously the structure served as the PMCCC office until the chamber merged to create the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias.

Through years of history, the home still stands as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices that were made during the Civil War. If walls could talk surely the McNutt House walls would speak of battle plans being drawn and many nights of countless wounds being patched to save lives.

Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com