New business complex will replace
well-known Stump building on High Street
By Bob Weaver
A Pleasants County businessman is planning to construct a new one-story building for local businesses in Grantsville.
Frank Wilson, who owns and operates LifeGuard on High Street, a home health business, said he will raze the former Albert and Gladys Stump property on High Street, currently occupied by State Farm Insurance and his own operation.
The property has had various owners over the years.
Grantsville councilman Gaylen Duskey acknowledges the importance of progress and Wilson's right to demolish the structure, but says it would be a positive move to remodel the building and "protect the history and architecture that makes the town unique."
He is proposing a non-binding resolution at the next council meeting in July:
"The Town of Grantsville, acknowledging the right of the building owner to do with the building as he pleases, and appreciating the desire to add facilities which may entice new business to town, but
alarmed at the loss of a beautiful example of the cut native stone architecture for which Grantsville and Calhoun County is well known;
requests building owner Frank Wilson to try to find ways to renovate and restore the building known as the Old Stump Building instead of demolishing it."
State Farm Insurance, a current occupant, said they will be looking for a location in which to operate while the new building is under construction.
Wilson indicated he was razing the two story structure, which has an upstairs dwelling, because of the costs required to update the building.
The replacement building would be about 70 feet long, with parking in front.
Wilson said there would be space for three or four small offices or businesses in the building, indicating he is willing to develop the space to meet the requirements of prospective businesses.
The project is expected to begin by July 31st.
The building, which contains some of Grantsville's early stonework, was used by Albert and Gladys Stump for Stump's Service Station, starting in the 1930s. The Stump's lived above the business.
Ola Jarvis Stalfort of Grantsville says she recalls the house, at least in part, was constructed by merchant George Richards.
In 1931, on the same site, a fire completely destroyed a general store operated by Orvan Buck, but a fire hose operated by Charter Shaffer saved the nearby Buck residence.
The '31 fire led the town fathers to add a new water source to their 250 barrel tank used for fire fighting. A 1250 barrel tank was erected on a nearby hill, filled with water from Simons Run.
Albert Stump was an expert mechanic, he and his wife operated the service station, repair shop and retail outlet for many years.
Gladys Stump said people would "pull-in at all hours of the night, blow their horn for gas, and she would climb out of bed to accommodate them," saying it was usually an emergency.
The stonework, including the adjacent steps and walls, was done by Spanish stone cutter Joe Janeiro, who did many of the walls in Grantsville. (Search JANEIRO or read "If Walls Could Talk" under People, Humor and History)
Albert and Gladys' son, Dr. Charles Albert Stump of Daytona, Florida, said the house part of the structure belonged to George Richards, and was "raised up" for the stone-cut business underneath.
That was done about 1936, Stump said, with the house being gutted and remodeled.
"I remember my dad lamenting at the dinner table he was $8,000 in debt, wondering if he would every get it paid," said Stump.
At one time, it was the Western Auto outlet and Mrs. Stump had her dress shop, known as the Quality Shop, in the building.
After the building was sold in the 1960s, it has also been used for a physician's office and a used car business.
Several other examples of native-cut stone are standing on the edge of existence - the Calhoun County High School and the Grantsville Grade School.
Many of Grantsville's old houses have already bit the dust, with financial resources unavailable to purchase or restore them.
The Oles house on Main Street, likely the oldest structure in town, stands empty.
The new construction comes on the heels of the announcement that a Subway franchise is coming to the town.
Stump's Garage and Filling Station on High Street in Grantsville -
Owned by Albert and Gladys Weaver Stump (Photo Courtesy of Bob Weaver)