It sits high up on the hill, serving as a landmark to passers-by, captivating onlookers with its haunting beauty. Surrounded by a sea of tall grasses and crowned with an octagonal turret, the home would be befitting as the setting of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
The history of the Alberene House, also known as the Company House, dates back to 1883 when New York businessmen James H. Serene and Daniel Carroll, along with John Porter, purchased a 1,955 acre tract of land on a road beside Beaver Dam Creek. A deed dated Jan. 31, 1883, states that the property was purchased by the trio for a sum of $30,000.
That same year, the men founded the Albemarle Soapstone Company and, after several legal battles, were able to begin quarrying their recently-purchased property, making use of the massive soapstone beds found on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Around 1890, the business changed its name to the Alberene Soapstone Company, an altered combination of the surname Serene and Albemarle County. The name Alberene was also given to the company town that had formed in the surrounding area. Completely self-sustaining, Alberene had everything that any small town would have—a post office, two-story school, a commissary, and several churches.
In 1899, New York City architect C. Wellesley Smith drew up plans for the house, which was to serve as the home of the company president and his family. Designed in the American Queen Anne style, Smith envisioned the house as a mirror-image copy of Crestwood, an historic home on Old Ivy Road that was demolished in 1990.
Walters and Vandegrift, contractors and builders from Charlottesville, were hired to construct the three-story house after their bid of $5,250 was accepted. The builders used soapstone harvested from the nearby quarry to put on the exterior of the brick-walled first floor. Both the second and third floors, as well as the turret, are made of wood frames covered by natural-finished wooden shingles.
Article from Heather Harris The Daily Progress. May 8 2013
Image Copyright Rick Martin Photographer 2019