Century-old home demolished after blaze

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg residents Starr and Lewis Emrick of 1212 Juliana St. said goodbye to a more than 100-year-old family heirloom Wednesday.

The house at 1209 Juliana St., across the street from the Emrick home, was destroyed in an early morning fire on Jan. 20. Fire crews rescued Lindsey Yearly, the occupant of the home, who was trapped in the second floor bedroom.

Yearly was renting the house from homeowner Tracy Wilson of Florida. Damages were estimated in excess of $100,000 at the time of the blaze.

Fire investigators said the cause of the blaze was determined to be from discarded smoking materials in a plastic trash can on the back porch. Windy conditions contributed to the fire spreading, said chief fire inspector Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department.

Starr’s grandfather, former Col. Charles Morrison, was the original owner of the 1209 Juliana St. house in the late 1890s. Morrison was a longtime Parkersburg resident and distant relative of the Wetherell family from J. Wetherell and Son Jewelers, which closed in January 2011.

Morrison was the second owner of the jewelry store, which opened at 417 Market St. in 1866.

Morrison also owned G.E. Smith Sons Jewelry at 809 Market St., which was combined with the 417 Market St. location.

The Emricks said Morrison helped begin the West Virginia National Guard when he didn’t get accepted into West Point. Starr’s Parkersburg family tree extends to her great-great-grandfather being former U.S. Sen. Peter Van Winkle.

“Someone called us and told us (the house was burning),” said Lewis Emrick. “And, of course, we saw the picture in the paper the next day, but we weren’t in town.”

Starr inherited the house after her parents, Harry and Charlyn Sarber, passed away. Since then the house has seen various owners, but the Emricks said they are still sad to see it go.

“Starr’s mother was born there and she lived there while she was a baby,” Lewis said.

The Emricks have been married about 58 years and have seen a lot in their time in Parkersburg. They watched from the front porch of their home as the house across the street was being demolished, reminiscing about the Juliana Street structure.

The house was purchased by the neighbor at 1207 Juliana St., Carl Lemley, for $13,000. Cost of demolition was around $10,000.

The land will give the homeowners a larger property and room for off-street parking, Lemley said.

The vinyl siding on the 1207 Juliana St. house sustained about $10,000 in damage from the January fire.