A new group has formed in hopes of raising funds to restore Carroll County’s most famous home.
Friends of the Allen House will hold its first fundraiser July 5 with all proceeds going to the restoration of the Sidna Allen House, the historic home in Fancy Gap forever linked with one of the main figures in the infamous Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy of 1912.
On April 4 during the intermission of “Thunder in the Hills,” the Frank Levering play about the 1912 shootout in the Carroll County Courthouse that left five people dead, it was announced that Bonnie Widener Wood had donated the Sidna Allen House to the Carroll County Historical Society. Wood, who grew up in the house, said she wanted the house preserved for the public.
Terri Bowman is one of the founders of Friends of the Allen House, which hopes to help with the restoration of the home.
“We are going to be a fundraising group to raise money for the restoration of the house,” Bowman said. “Right now the group is comprised of six or seven members and most everyone was in the (Thunder in the Hills) play, but we are not limiting membership to that. Anyone that would like to help can help us.”
Bowman played Nancy Webb in the play, wife of Sheriff Lewis F. Webb, who was killed in the shootout. Bowman’s boyfriend, Victor Allen, played Sheriff Webb in the play, and is a descendant of the Allen family.
“I have personally done a lot of research on the tragedy and I want to see the house restored. I think it is a shame it has gotten into the shape it is in,” Bowman said. “And after having been in the play both times it was presented, that kind of piqued my interest a little more.”
So far, the new group has met three times. Friends of the Allen House will meet again July 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Libby Rakes law office in Hillsville. The meeting is open to anyone who would like to come.
“We are pretty fledgling right now. We haven’t even elected officers. We’re just trying to raise money so we can do some events to raise significant money for the house,” Bowman said. “Everything we raise will go toward restoration of the house. It is going to take so much money, it is probably going to be well over $1 million.”
The new group is not part of the Carroll County Historical Society, Bowman said, but hopes to work alongside the group. But holding fundraising activities for the historical society will hopefully help the society devote its time and energy to working in the house.
“I am sure they will get grants and loans, but we can do these little simple things they may not necessarily have time for and still help out. The events we do are not necessarily sponsored by them, but a way for concerned citizens to get together and raise money for them,” Bowman said.
The first event sponsored by Friends of the Allen House will be the Hillbilly Hay Ridge Tractor Poker Run on July 5. Registration/check-in begins at 8 a.m, tractors leave at 10 a.m.
The event begins and ends at Jody’s Towing at the intersection of Routes 58 and 221 in Hillsville. The poker run route will be approximately 10 miles. Entry fee is $15 to pre-register, $20 at the gate. You can pull a wagonload of friends for an extra $10.
There will be free hot dog meal for participants, cash prizes for best and worst poker hands, and a tractor show with trophy for People’s Choice. For more info or to pre-register, contact Terri Bowman at 728-5061 or Jody Shockley at 733-6298. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and door prizes.
“Everything we raise will go toward the house,” Bowman said.
The Sidna Allen House in Fancy Gap was built for Allen and his wife, Bettie, in 1911; however, he only lived there a year due to his involvement in the Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy.
A few years after Sidna and Bettie married in 1901, they decided to build the house. According to the book, “The Courthouse Tragedy,” the eight-room house was made of the best wood around and the walls were all plastered. The floors were made of oak, except the floor of the living room, which was white maple. Dining room materials included quarter-sawed oak and it was finished in natural color wainscoting. The roof of the house was made of slate, which back then made it very expensive. There was also a windmill at the house and an acetylene generator, which provided them lights. When finished, the house was worth $13,000 and was said to be the most beautiful home in Southwest Virginia. In 1974, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.