Preservation Mathews, Inc. Is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the identifying of at-risk historic homes, structures and properties within Mathews County Virginia and to work with the community to preserve and/or restore them for future generations. The past is the basis upon which our future is built. To quote historian Marcus Garvey, “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots”. To also quote Rick Hammond, grandson of J. Eddie. Callis, “ Men like A. C . Hudgins, R. B. Respess, Claudie V. Hunley, A. D. Hudgins, C. L . Morgan, A. J. Miller and Ernest Diggs were the backbone of the Mathews Courthouse area.” They employed Callis Construction to assist in this endeavor. The L. M.Callis House touched on the lives of the men listed above and will now anchor the future Downtown Historic District. Stories abound of local families with ties to this home over the generations. Callis Construction was responsible for most of the Main Street block which now houses the Halcyon Building and others.
Preservation Mathews was resolved not to lose another relevant building without an attempt to save it. Our group had so little time between finding a suitable buyer and the threats of demolition from the Bay School (who incidentally enjoys a tax-free status). On December 31st, Preservation Mathews had to quickly borrow $55,000.00 to move the L. M. Callis house to its present location instead of having time to raise the funds. It is well worth the saving of this local treasure of our community’s past, but a heavy challenge all the same.
The L.M. Callis House, once a forgotten symbol of prosperity, will now anchor the south end of Main Street Mathews as a hotel. The new use will initially have 4 suites with room to expand as needed. With the loss of the Buckley Hall Bed and Breakfast in the center of Mathews, the Callis Hotel will be a welcome location for visitors wanting to see our shops and enjoy our restaurants. Visiting scholars, artists, and speakers will have a central location in which to stay. Indeed, it also re-enters the tax rolls as a viable contribution to the benefit of all Mathew’s citizens. And with Ian Morse’s touch, it will be a wonderful reminder that Mathews’ past is not lost.
I have been involved in the preservation, restoration, public education, & sales of our wonderful real estate heritage for the last 38 years. Since choosing to move to the quaint village of Mathews, I have worked very hard to save buildings like the L.M. Callis House from destruction. I have focused on these properties because they are the building blocks upon which communities are built & futures are made. I knew from the onset that our efforts were working against the clock on this particular property, but it’s value was so important. After exploring all other options, we partnered with Morse Enterprises to move the house to his location, thus anchoring the end of the proposed historic village district and saving the house. The biggest challenge facing Preservation Mathews is educating our citizens on the need to preserve their heritage. Once we accomplish this, we need for them to contribute their time and their dollars to the same. We are now in the process of researching other properties for similar preservation and restoration, but not of the magnitude of the L. M. Callis House.
 Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “Rehabilitation Tax Credits”. http://dhr.virginia.gov/tax_credits/tax_credit.htm (accessed December 26, 2016).
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