A West Virginia author whose recent book details the beauty of Jefferson County’s historic homes as they relate to the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley is coming to Charleston, Thursday, Jan. 19, for a special lecture and exhibit.

The State Historic Preservation Office of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will host a slide presentation and lecture featuring John C. Allen Jr., author of Uncommon Vernacular: The Early Houses of Jefferson County, West Virginia, 1735-1835 (West Virginia University Press, 2011).

An exhibit of photographs and illustrations from Allen’s book also will be on display in the second floor gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston.

The lecture, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Culture Center’s Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater, is free and open to the public.

Allen, a preservation coordinator and architectural historian near Shepherdstown and former chairman of the Historic Landmarks Commission of Jefferson County, will be available to sign copies of his book during a dessert reception. Copies of his book also will be for sale for $49.99 at the West Virginia State Museum Shop featuring Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia.

Allen’s book is adorned with more than 700 photographs by Washington, D.C., architectural photographer Walter Smalling Jr., as well as drawings, floor plans and maps by award-winning licensed architect Andrew Lewis.

In his book, Allen focuses on dwellings built from the mid-18th century to the arrival of the railroad and canal in 1835 as he unfolds the unique story of the area’s early building traditions and architectural character. Allen spent seven years surveying historic homes in Jefferson County, including the plantation homes of George Washington’s family as well as the log houses of yeomen farmers.

Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Susan M. Pierce said Allen’s book is the first publication to document the great breadth of the character and quality of the architecture found in the Eastern Panhandle.

“During my career at the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office I have realized that while great architecture exists within the state’s boundaries, not many people know about it. Now they will,” Pierce said. “And, although I have visited many buildings included in this book or read their National Register of Historic Places nominations, I could never turn to a reference volume that provided a comprehensive review through floor plans, drawn elevations and photographs. Now I can.”

For more information about the lecture, contact Pierce at (304) 558-0240, ext. 158.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.