Spire 2022

O n College Avenue in Bluefield, W.Va. stands a stone, Tudor style home representative of the Easley and Beckett families and their century-long commitment to Bluefield University. Built for Frank Smoot Easley and Elizabeth Tyler Easley, the home’s first two floors were constructed with stone extracted from the present-day Bluefield University campus. “My husband (John Beckett) and I live in the college,” laughed Becky Beckett, current resident and granddaughter of Frank and Elizabeth Easley. Renowned local architect Alex Mahood designed the house in consideration of the family’s handmade, rosewood furni ture. Elizabeth’s father, Walker Wilson Tyler, saw an auction listing in The New York Times and had the furniture imported from England to Lynchburg for his new wife, Ellen Rucker Tyler. It was later given to Frank and Elizabeth and brought to Bluefield. The house also incorporates a mantel from New England and an antique fountain from Lynchburg. The house includes five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and several closets that put every angle to use. Italian stone masons from McDowell County, W.Va. completed the original stonemasonry, which features a signature grouting style, using around ninety wagonloads of stone brought from the grounds clearned for the future campus. Stone for the third floor quarried from the mountain behind the house. A variety of family heirlooms are displayed throughout the house, including homemade dresses, German dinnerware from the owner of the Matz Hotel, a couch from John and Becky’s courting days, and the bed of which Tyler Easley was born and Elizabeth passed away. While touring the house, Becky has a variety of stories to share, from her grandmother saying, “Don’t ask a Virginia lady her age,” so much that her birth year could not be included on her tombstone to her mother telling the grandchildren, “No, no,” so often they thought it was her name. The Easley and Beckett family has a rich history represented in their stone home. Frank and his brother, Judge David Milton Easley, were instrumental in founding the university. Easley Library was named in their honor, where their portraits and a quilt made by Ellen for Frank from pieces of World War I era dresses is displayed. In 1919, Frank was one of the more than sixty citizens selected by the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce to attend a meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and convince the Committee on a School for Southwest Virginia to locate its college in Bluefield. They offered $75,000 and fifty acres of land, asking that the college give Frank rocks to build his home. The delegation set out to secure the funds offered to the committee and to raise an additional $50,000.

Frank Tyler Easley, outside of the Easley Home, 1940

Becky Easley Beckett, outside of the Easley Home, 2022


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