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Petersburg in Grant County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

The Tannery in Petersburg, WV

 
 
The Tannery in Petersburg, WV Marker image. Click for full size.
By Shane Oliver, August 1, 2020
1. The Tannery in Petersburg, WV Marker
Inscription.  
This house is one of the original company homes built by the tannery in Petersburg. It was part of a row of ten houses, all painted yellow, which were rented to tannery employees at a reduced rate of $3.00 a month. Each house had five rooms and an outdoor toilet on a 50' x 150' lot. One well supplied water to all ten homes. In 1930, water and electricity were installed and the rent increased to $5.00 per month.

The ten company homes and the superintendent's home were sold in 1958 and some were moved nearby. By 2007, only two houses remained standing. On October 7, 2007, this house was moved to its present location and is currently being restored by the Grant County Historical Society, Inc. and the Tannery Workers Association.

In 1890, brothers John Edward and J. Summerfield Taylor went into partnership with William A. Engeman to build the Brighton Tannery in Petersburg. The tannery opened in 1891 and continued under their ownership until February 1894. Pay was $2.00 a day in the 1890s.

The tannery in Petersburg made quality leather for goods such as shoes, wallets, saddles, and belts. Hides were shipped
Tannery House near the marker. image. Click for full size.
By Shane Oliver, August 1, 2020
2. Tannery House near the marker.
Like the adjacent Old Grant County Courthouse, the Tannery House is owned by the Grant County Historical Society, and is open only during special events.
into Petersburg by train from as far away as South America. They were kept in a storage shed near the train station in south Petersburg and taken to the tannery as needed. Bark sheds and other storage sheds were also located near the train station. Sole leather was hauled to the train station by a matched team of four tannery horses until the first truck was purchased in 1928.

For 60 years, the tannery was the biggest employer in Petersburg, with 150 men at its peak. The average pay was $1.90 an hour when the tannery closed its doors in 1974.

A tannery is a place where leather is made. Tanning is the process of converting animal hides into leather. In the early days, ground bark from Chestnut and Hemlock trees was used to tan hides.

[Timeline:]
1890 - Brothers John Edward Taylor and J. Summerfield Taylor, in partnership with William A. Engeman, build Brighton Tannery in Petersburg.
April 1891 - Tannery opened.
April 1893 - Brighton Tannery sold at public auction to U.S. Leather Company and renamed the Union Tanning Co.
1906 - Fire destroyed tannery and it was rebuilt.
September 1909 - U.S. Leather Company sold tannery to Central Leather Company.
December 1909 - Central Leather Company sold tannery to Union Tannery Company.
1919 - Leach
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house was destroyed by fire and tannery was shut down for about six months for repair.
1930 - The 95-foot iron smoke stack was replaced by a 100-foot yellow brick one.
1942 - Tannery was sold to Union Tanning, and Keystone Tanning and Glue company.
1950 - Petersburg Tanning Company purchased tannery.
1955 - Tannery name was changed to Blanchard Bros. and Lane, Inc.
1957 - Leach house was again destroyed by fire. Boiler room was slightly damaged.
1960 - Lowengart and Co. obtained the title to tannery.
1965 - Lowengart and Co. merged their Moorefield and Petersburg plants and most of the Moorefield plant came to Petersburg.
1974 - Tannery closed.
1976 - Tannery remains and yard were sold.
1980 - Last tannery building torn down.

[Captions:]
Tannery Row - After the Tannery was purchased by Union Tannery Company in December 1909, a large part of the tannery's property in the Petersburg area was subdivided into lots known as Tannery Addition, or Eastern Addition of Petersburg town, and ten tannery houses were built.

John Edward Taylor - Photo Courtesy of Phyllis A. Harman Collection

James Summerfield Taylor (left) and his brother Charles - Photo Courtesy of Phyllis A. Harman Collection

Petersburg
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Tannery -
The tannery whistle on top of the boiler room roof could be heard for miles around.

 
Erected by The Grant County Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars.
 
Location. 38° 59.552′ N, 79° 7.221′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, West Virginia, in Grant County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Virginia Avenue (U.S. 220) and Pine Street, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located behind the Old Grant County Courthouse, near the Yellow Tannery house. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 117 Virginia Ave, Petersburg WV 26847, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Petersburg (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Mulligan (within shouting distance of this marker); Maple Hill Cemetery (approx. half a mile away); War in Grant County (approx. 0.6 miles away); Fairfax Line (approx. one mile away); A Strategic Location (approx. 1.1 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Mulligan (approx. 1.1 miles away); Civil War Cannons (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petersburg.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 17, 2020, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 39 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 17, 2020, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
 
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Mar. 4, 2021