John Howe Peyton's Montgomery Hall

Frank Walter and Emma Jerome Duryea Walter

Emma J. Walter, wife of Frank Walter, purchased Montgomery Hall from H. D. Peck in 1902. She was born in 1866 in New York, the daughter of John Duryea and Jane Carpenter. Frank Walter was born in Baltimore in 1854. The Montgomery Hall property that was conveyed by H. D. Peck to Emma J. Walter on October 31, 1902 consisted of about the same acreage consistently conveyed from 1871 forward.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter had a large family of nine surviving children, and Montgomery Hall was a lively place when they lived there. Both the younger and the elder Walter family members entertained and often received out of town guests. One such gathering was reported in the Times Dispatch, Richmond on June 25, 1905:

A handsome entertainment was given at Montgomery Hall the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Walter Tuesday night, when their daughters, Misses Jane, Ruth, and Frances Walter entertained a number of their young friends. Some of the guests assembled at the Post Office, where they were given a tallyho ride to Montgomery Hall. The large lawn of the beautiful colonial home was made brilliant with numerous lights hung about the yard. The Misses Walter received their guests, after which games were played for some time, when refreshments were served. Then dancing was indulged in until a late hour. Those present were: Misses Marie Tunstall, of Washington, D. C., Jane Allen, Mary Allen, Elizabeth Pancake, Gladys Walker, Rachael Speck, Frances Effinger, Nannie and Joe Timberlake, Louise Rawlings, Elizabeth Timberlake, Louise Rawlings, Louise Littig, Eleanor Curry, Margaret Ranson, Sue and Annie Bell, Laura Wise, Elsie Haile, Helen Holiday, Mattie Taylor, Martha Miller, Mary Hutcheson, Lucy and Bessie Lewin, Estelle Crawford, Messrs. Leslie Curry, Bayley King, Harvey Allen, Henry Hutchinson, William Pancake, Robert Effinger, Granville Curry, Thomas Ranson, Charles Hoge, Charles Holt, Joe Shirkey, Melville Shirkey, Columbus Haile, Malcolm Holliday, Najac and Stuart Taylor.

In 1903, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Walter commissioned T. J. Collins & Son to design plans for a new two-story addition to Montgomery Hall and plans for renovation of the original residence. During the renovation the smokehouse, the original two-story kitchen with servant’s quarters, and the covered walkway to the main house were torn down. The new two-story addition was completed along with other interior and exterior renovations, relocating the dining room, and replacing portions of the shingle roof.

On February 11, 1906, a fire that likely began in the attic completely destroyed the original Montgomery Hall residence. The fire was a newsworthy event, reported in at least four Virginia newspapers between February 12 and February 16: The Times Dispatch, Richmond, the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, the Shenandoah Herald, and the Alexandria Gazette. The surrounding outbuildings were spared, and neighbors were able to aid in rescuing most of the Walter family’s possessions.

Frank and Emma J. Walter commissioned a new residence in 1906, and a house based on plans designed by T. J. Collins was completed in the spring of 1907 on the site of the former house. Collins included many similar design elements, and architectural details in his plans, along with those fashionable at the turn of the century. Mrs. Walter’s father, John Duryea, of Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, died at the replacement Montgomery Hall house shortly after its completion. His memorial service was held at Montgomery Hall. Later that year, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Walter donated a Tiffany stained glass window, “The Good Samaritan,” to Trinity Episcopal Church in his memory along with another Tiffany stained glass window, “The Praising Angel,” in memory of his wife, Jane Carpenter Duryea.

Frank and Emma J. Walter added considerably to the property’s acreage during their ownership of Montgomery Hall. They¬†conveyed the Montgomery Hall tract and additional tracts as one parcel consisting of approximately 410 acres to Bates Warren on March 14, 1911. Frank Walter died in 1915 and Emma J. Walter died in 1935. They are buried in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton.

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Jane Gray Avery

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