The Waltons Hamner House
The Waltons Hamner House differs from its likeness, you might be stirred by a sense of nostalgia when you see it. You might even recognize it and not know exactly why. More popularly known as The Waltons House, the Hamner House is the childhood home of Earl Hamner, Jr., novelist and creator of the TV series, The Waltons. Inspired by his upbringing, the show Hamner famously adapted from his novel Spencer’s Mountain follows the lives of the fictional Walton family in a Virginia mountain town of Schuyler from 1933-1946. The show aired from 1971-1981 and won numerous Emmy Awards.
The original house that served as the backdrop to Hamner’s childhood was built in the early 20th century in the village of Schuyler in Nelson County, where it still stands today. According to a Nelson County Historical Society 2017 tour pamphlet, the Hamner home is one of a few surviving company houses connected to the local soapstone industry. Due to its important place in Americana, the Hamner House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
From the National Register of Historic Places registration form for the Schuyler Historic District:
Of notable historical interest is the Hamner House at 128 Tree Top Loop, which was individually listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2004. This I-house was built around 1915 by M.J. Copps, the manager of the local soapstone quarry, and is typical of company housing from the early 20th century. This dwelling is significant as the boyhood home of Earl Hamner, Jr., the author of Spencer’s Mountain and creator of the popular television show based on this childhood home and town, called The Waltons.
Earl Hamner, Jr. writes about the house in his autobiography. "We were an extended family living in a small white clapboard house. The house had been owned by the company that operated the soapstone mill that had brought the village into being. When the company closed it offered its company-owned houses for sale. My father bought ours for five hundred dollars."
(From "Goodnight John-Boy", by Earl Hamner and John Griffin). A unique element of the house that still remains is the stacked soapstone foundation sourced from the nearby quarry.
The house was quite modest when the Hamner kids were growing up during the Great Depression. The two story home with its recognizable gabled roof sits on a 1/3 acre lot. Its notable features include double hung windows, an eat-in kitchen with ample space for a long table, a first floor master bedroom, and a spacious bathroom with a claw foot tub (hot water for the bathroom came from a small wood-burning heater). The house has a total of three bedrooms and beautiful pine and oak floors can be found throughout the living areas and upstairs.
Visitors can still get a sense of life for a large family in a small house. Earl Hamner, Sr. made a number of improvements after purchasing the house. He covered the original beaded-board walls with plasterboard, framed out the closets and excavated the crawl space to install central heat. The only significant change to the interior of the house afterwards was the opening of the east bedroom ceilings to the rafters.
Original Walton Home, LLC purchased the house at auction in 2004. Over the next year or so, Original Walton Home, LLC extensively renovated the home. Subsequently fans have been allowed to tour the home.
In August 2017 the house was bought by The Waltons Hamner House LLC. The Waltons Hamner House LLC is owned by Ray Castro (pictured above) Director/Producer, Associate Producers Carole Johnson and Kirstin DeMaio of the documentary Earl Hamner Storyteller and long time friends of the Hamner family. Laurie Lane, is The Waltons Hamner House full-time docent and she will conduct each tour. Learn more about, Earl, Schuyler, the Hamners and more from Earls Blog or his Official Website.
Kirstin DeMaio and her daughter Tiffany
|Kirstin DeMaio and Carole Johnson|