Lewisburg, West Virginia
The City of Lewisburg extends a most cordial welcome to our many guests.
Lewisburg, nestled in the heart of the Greenbrier Valley, is the county seat and offers visitors a unique shopping experience, elegant (or casual) dining, and an opportunity to explore its history. In addition, a wide array of outdoor adventures awaits-hiking, biking, camping, caving, canoeing, fishing and even cross-country skiing!
Our friendly town boasts a low crime rate, award-winning galleries, live theater, and much more.
Lewisburg is named after Andrew Lewis. In 1751 Lewis, as a young surveyor, established a camp near the spring behind the present courthouse. This spring has been known as the Lewis Spring since that time. During Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, Native Americans completely destroyed two of the early European settlements in Greenbrier County, killing the men and carrying off the women and children. This raid virtually eliminated all of the earliest settlers in the county. The Native Americans were primarily Shawnees, and (according to undocumented tradition) were led by the famous leader Hokoleskwa, or Cornstalk.
By 1770 a fortified encampment called Fort Savannah was established at the Lewis Spring. In 1774, Governor Dunmore of Virginia instructed then-Colonel Andrew Lewis to gather “willing and able men” to go to the great Kanawha River and stand against the Native American forces that were attacking the Greenbrier Valley. In what became known as Lord Dunmore’s War, over 1,490 men were assembled, some at Fort Pitt at present-day Pittsburgh, and others at Fort Union, on the site of present-day Lewisburg. These recruits included Lewis’s brother Charles, and others which history books refer to as one of the most remarkable assemblages of frontier leaders in American history. Thirteen were men of political and military distinction. Lewis’s army marched down the New and Kanawha Rivers to the Ohio River, where they intended to cross over and invade the Ohio Country, which was the home of the Shawnees. The Native Americans, led by Cornstalk, attempted to cut them off at the mouth of the Kanawha, where they fought an inconclusive battle that came to be known as the Battle of Point Pleasant.
Lewisburg was formally established in 1782 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly.
To accommodate Virginians west of the mountains, several Virginia courts sat in Lewisburg, where Patrick Henry once successfully defended a client accused of murder. The town and the surrounding farms prospered and a number of spas and resort hotels were established at some of the outlying mineral springs.
During the Civil War a number of engagements were fought in and around Lewisburg. Several of the present buildings in town were used as hospitals and barracks by both sides in this conflict, and bullet marks can still be seen in some today. The Virginia Supreme Court library, which was located in Lewisburg and served as the Greenbrier County Library until 2008, was used as a hospital and has preserved a section of wall with soldiers’ graffiti.
In 1978, a 236-acre (0.96 km2) area in the heart of Lewisburg was designated a National Register Historic District.
Today, Lewisburg is home to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, one of 29 osteopathic medical schools in the United States and one of three medical schools in West Virginia.
Attractions and events
Performing in its state-of-the-art facility in downtown Lewisburg, Greenbrier Valley Theatre is West Virginia’s Official Year-Round Professional Theatre presenting theatrical performances, musical concerts, literary and also poetry readings.
Carnegie Hall, Inc., Lewisburg
In 1902, steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Hall as a classroom building for the Lewisburg Female Institute, later the Greenbrier College for Women. Carnegie Hall, Inc. was incorporated in 1983 as a regional not-for-profit arts and education center. Today, the cultural center annually serves more than 75,000 patrons with live performances by artists from around the world, arts in education programming, classes, workshops, fine art exhibits, an independent film series and more. Carnegie Hall, Inc. is one of only four Carnegie Halls still in continuous use in the world.
Trillium Performing Arts Collective has offered performance, classes and workshops in original dance, movement theatre, and music since 1982. Feature films are screened daily at the Lewis Theatre
The Lost World Caverns are nearby, and feature self-guided tours and numerous rock formations. Organ Cave is also in the area.
The State Fair of West Virginia is held in nearby Fairlea every August.
Lewisburg is the site of West Virginia’s largest Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. The event includes a march through downtown Lewisburg, a community lunch, and a program commemorating the memory and legacy of Dr. King.
Belsnickle or Old Christmas is celebrated with the Shanghai Parade on New Year’s Day. In this observation of the older traditions, people dress in costumes and march down the main street. Its term comes from “collie-shanghai”, an old word related to making a lot of noise. The parade has been going on for over 150 years.
Other annual celebrations include two food festivals, Taste of Our Towns (TOOT) in October and the Chocolate Festival in April, and the Lewisburg Literary Festival, a celebration of books and the written word, held in August. Speakers at the Literary Festival have included Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys, Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, NBA basketball legend Jerry West, NPR’s Noah Adams, West Virginia Poet Laureate and children’s author Marc Harshman, and children’s author Tom Angleberger of the Origami Yoda series.
The Greenbrier Classic Concert series are held in nearby Fairlea at the State Fair Grounds every July. Artists who have performed include West Virginia native Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Reba McEntire. Miranda Lambert, Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, Victoria Justice, Jon Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney, Aerosmith, Maroon Five and Jimmy Buffett.