The Major David Graham Mansion is really misnamed……it should be called the Squire David Graham Mansion for the Major’s father! He is actually the original owner who amassed this 26,000 acre estate and built the 11,000 square foot mansion that stands today.
The Center photo is of Squire David Graham.
The smaller gray photo on the right hand side is William Walker, married to Mary Brown Walker.
The photo on the left side is Andrew Walker born February 04, 1805 died May 09, 1869
Squire David Graham was born in 1800. His father, Robert Graham, immigrated to this area from County Down Ireland in 1774.
What was left of the old Fort in the early 1900s
Robert Graham served one year in the Revolutionary War and then settled in what is now the Fort Chiswell/Max Meadows community in Wythe County, Virginia.
Squire David built the original Mansion and the majority of the later additions, and placed his first iron furnace on the front lawn of the Mansion. Over the years Squire David would acquire or build up to 12 furnaces or forges in the Graham’s Forge area. Pig iron from the Graham forges was transported by horse-drawn wagon to larger cities and oversees to England.
The original, rear frame section of the Mansion was built in the 1830s and the huge, formal brick section was added in the 1850s. It is said that Major David Graham lived in the Mansion his entire life; he was born in 1838.
The Major supervised the massive hip-on-hip replacement slate roof and its ornate tower and dormers in the 1870s as well as the intricate Victorian porch additions in the late 1800s.
The Georgian Side Porch facing Cedar Run Creek is the original entrance. This pillared portico reflects a definite Charleston influence. Notice the intricate woodwork and rope trim around the door.
This rear frame portion of the Mansion is the original structure built by Squire David Graham. You can also view the old ringer washer and original dumb waiter in the adjacent windowed workroom.
The outbuilding to the left of the porch is the wash house which houses the original fire pit, chimney, boiling caldron, drain, and rinse basin.
The 5-room/3 story outbuilding directly behind the kitchen is the summer kitchen and servants’ quarters. The winter kitchen is located in the basement directly beneath the updated first floor indoor kitchen. The opposite rear enclosed side porch and storage room date this frame structure as “pre-1850” by virtue of the type of ceiling plaster and lathe work according to local historians. Mansion visitors will notice that this plaster is made from mud and horsehair applied to wooden lathes.
Since the frame and brick sections were built separately and at different time periods, the basements are not connected and there are two staircases. The room used today as the kitchen was originally the “hearth room”, a combination living room and dining room. The hearth room is anchored by a huge fireplace which is framed by an ornate mahogany fireplace mantle and the functional nearby warming oven.
This “oven” is built directly into the center of the radiator! As a matter of fact, the radiators located throughout the home are highly decorative.
The Grahams were clearly ahead of their times! They also used carbide lights and steam heat long before most of their southern (and northern) neighbors!