Storm, tree damage Henderson Hall

WILLIAMSTOWN – A storm that that blew through the region Wednesday morning toppled a tree at Henderson Hall, destroying a fence and damaging the historic building.

The storm hit around 9:30 a.m., with severe weather warnings and a tornado watch issued for much of the area. High winds and heavy rain for about 10 minutes made it difficult to see, leading to a half dozen fender-benders in the region. A car on Interstate 77 struck a guardrail and littered the highway with debris.

The Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department was called to Henderson Hall after area residents reported a fallen tree and downed power line.

Paul Jordan, a member of the Williamstown VFD, said the line was live and resting against a metal fence surrounding Henderson Hall when crews arrived, delaying assessment of the damage and requiring responders to close River Road where the 19th century mansion and tourist attraction is located.

The fence, which was built to look like wrought iron but made of aluminum, was crushed in several places, and tree branches had torn off several shutters, broken one window and damaged the front porch roof of the house.

Jordan said a quick tour of the inside of the building found no additional damage.

Dave McKain, director of the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg and Henderson Hall, said the fence was installed only a week ago. The tree that fell was more than 100 years old, but McKain said officials had it trimmed last year, which likely helped minimize the damage from the fall.

“We had a large tree limb removed. If we hadn’t done that, it would have been much worse,” he said.

Power was cut to the line shortly before 11, but McKain said that leaves the home without power. An insurance adjuster is expected to assess the damage within the next few days.

“We’ve got to get that tree out of the way, and that is going to be a big deal,” McKain said. “It destroyed the roof of the front porch and did some damage to the main roof. I don’t know how much it is going to cost, thousands of dollars, and insurance comes with deductibles. It is going to be a tough cleanup. We’ve got some work to do.”