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What a View at Montview

By Ron Brown, October 11, 2017

Historic home receives grand upgrade for university guests

The historic Montview Mansion on Liberty’s campus — now simply called Montview — has undergone a massive renovation.

Built in 1923, the home was originally owned by former Secretary of the Treasury and U.S. Sen. Carter Glass, most well-known as the co-founder of the Federal Reserve. Liberty acquired the home in 1977, and it housed the office of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty’s founder, from 1990 until his death in 2007. Falwell and his wife, Macel, are buried on its grounds. In recent years, the home which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been used as a bed and breakfast for speakers and other notable guests to Liberty’s campus. Now, the newly renovated home provides guests with five-star accommodations.

Vice President of University Operations Trey Falwell oversaw the recent project and said the goal was to retain the home’s authentic charm.

“What I like most about this project is that despite all the changes to the campus over the last few decades, the mansion and its surrounding area remain relatively unchanged — and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “We referenced a number of different sources to work toward rejuvenating the mansion to its original luster in the 1920s. In addition to online research, we consulted Poplar Forest’s director of architectural restoration to help guide the design.” (Poplar Forest, a historic site located a few miles from campus, was designed by Thomas Jefferson and served as his retreat home). Scott Glass, an architect and grandson of Carter Glass, also assisted in the renovation at Montview.

Some of the home’s most interesting features include a marble mantel that was salvaged from a building used by Congress after the U.S. Capitol was burned by the British in the War of 1812, and a stone Corinthian capital that Glass brought back from Pompeii and used as a unique water well head.

David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice president for spiritual development, said the renovation celebrates the home’s original grandeur while functioning day to day as a distinguished inn to host university guests. Among other responsibilities, Nasser and his staff oversee Liberty’s weekly Convocations, which feature guests representing many spheres of influence, from pastors to political leaders, best-selling authors, professional athletes, CEOs, renowned artists, and more.

“We aim to honor our guests by investing in them while they come to invest in us,” Nasser said. “A unique and memorable night’s stay at a historic inn on our beautiful campus certainly helps in accomplishing that goal.”

Nasser’s wife, Jennifer, served as the project’s interior and conceptual designer. Her meticulous attention to both historic and hospitable details can be seen throughout the house. For instance, new lighting fixtures give a nod to the opulence of the roaring ’20s; the colors, fabrics, patterns and stain tones are true to the period; and a tile floor inlaid with “1923” commemorates the year Montview was built. Another turning back of the clock is the reimagining of the original kitchen area that was previously removed but has now been placed back into the north wing.

“We want our guests to feel at home, and no home is complete without an inviting kitchen, which draws people out of their rooms and into a common space for conversation and fellowship,” Jennifer Nasser said.

Dan Deter, LU’s vice president of major construction, also used the renovation as an opportunity to update heating and cooling capabilities.

“We wanted to ensure that the house is on a firm foundation and will last another 100 or more years, so we focused on both the seen and unseen,” he said.

A second phase of renovation will see the Rev. Falwell’s office, untouched since his death, prominently featured behind a glass wall to ensure that everything in the room will remain undisturbed. The Rev. Falwell made many decisions that shaped Liberty’s future in that office, and the goal is to allow more generations to view it the same way he kept it for so many years. Trey Falwell remembers visiting his grandfather there frequently, where hand-scribbled notes from the day before his death still remain.

“This project is especially important to me because of how often I was at the mansion while I was growing up. It was my home away from home on sick days and afternoons, and I’m thankful that I was able to spend so much time with my grandfather in his office.”

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