That's a phrase often repeated by natives, when incredulous visitors see Williamson's "Coal House" for the first time.The outside walls of the unique structure actually are constructed of Coal - 65 tons of it, from the multi-million dollar seams in the vicinity of this bustling southern West Virginia town.
The Coal House located in the courthouse square in downtown Williamson, West Virginia, stands a fitting tribute to the abundant mineral that has brought prosperity to the entire Southern section of West Virginia.
It was built in 1933 as a result of an idea by O.W. Evans, then manager of the Norfolk and Western Railways Fuel Department in Williamson. He hit upon the novel Coal House idea, and gained civic support for the project. Materials, labor, and cash were donated by local firms and individuals, and the one-story building was designed by H.T. Hicks, architect, of Welch, West Virginia.
The 65 tons of coal were cut into blocks that were used in the four walls and the two smooth pilasters at the front of the building. The general appearance of the structure is that of cut stone, although, of course, black. Foundations are masionary set on concrete footings.
The outside surfaces are remarkably in tact, thanks to coats of weatherproof varnish applied every two years which protect the building from deterioration by weather.
The Coal House apparently does not constitute any unusual fire hazards, since it was insured without question by a nationally known insurance company.
The interior of the building has been recently remodeled consisting of walnut paneling, wall to wall carpet, flourescent lighting, central heating and air conditioning, modern furniture, and equipment, which all blend with a modernistic decor. The remodeling was made possible by the merchants and businesses of the Tug Valley area. It was the beginning of the City of Williamson's Renovation Program.
At present, the building houses the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Williamson Credit Bureau.
Coal used in the construction was mined from Winifrede seam and donated by the Leckie Collieries Company, Crystal Block Coal Company, and The Winifrede Block Coal Company.
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