2017-12-20 / Front Page

Historic Unger home damaged in Saturday fire

by Kate Shunney


This file photo from 2012 shows a Civil War living history encampment at Oakleigh Manor, which was damaged by fire on December 16. This file photo from 2012 shows a Civil War living history encampment at Oakleigh Manor, which was damaged by fire on December 16. A Southern Morgan County house known as Oakleigh Manor was damaged by fire on Saturday, December 16. Fire crews from three states tackled a blaze that extended from the basement to the second floor of the historic house, said Captain Mel Harmon of the South Morgan County Volunteer Fire Company.

Harmon said firefighters responded to a call from residents of the home at 6:30 p.m. They had been away and returned home to find smoke coming from the residence, they told firefighters

South Morgan crews were on the scene in minutes and got the fire under control with the assistance of units from multiple jurisdictions.

Harmon said firefighters found fire on the first floor and saw that it extended up into the upper floor and down into the basement.

Mark Miller of South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company established initial command of the scene, then Asst. Chief Marshall Younker of Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company assumed command.

Harmon said the fire appeared to start somewhere in the living room.

Damage from the fire has made the home unlivable, but the house is still standing with the exterior intact, said Harmon.

He credited the work of multiple fire units in saving the house.

“Once again, it was one of those three-state efforts. We worked together like we came out of the same house,” said Harmon.

Units used a dry hydrant between Greenwood Church and the fire scene to keep tankers supplied.

Fire units remained on the scene until 10:30 p.m.

The West Virginia Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Harmon said a female resident and her adult male son were displaced by the fire and were assisted by the American Red Cross. Harmon said at least two cats were killed in the fire, but several more survived.

The two residents are executors of the estate of the late owner, Robert Shambaugh.

Oakleigh Manor was built in 1849 by Washington Unger, the businessman who ran Unger Store, and for whom the area is named.

Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is known to have made the Unger homestead his headquarters in January 1862 when his troops were heading north from Winchester to downtown Berkeley Springs. Troops and Jackson returned to the estate after Jackson retreated from a bombardment of Hancock during the Bath- Romney campaign. Gen. Jackson is believed to have stayed in Unger’s house after returning from Hancock.

Washington Unger served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, as did his son and heir of the house, Algernon Unger.

Civil War re-enactors staged a recreation of Jackson’s encampment at Oakleigh Manor in 2012 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Bath-Romney campaign.

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