203 Solar Street
This federal-style home is the oldest split-level house in Bristol, and is among Bristol's oldest homes. It features tiger oak floors, four wood burning fireplaces, a sun room, a built-in gun rack, and a sunken goldfish pond.
The house is the oldest complete house on Solar Hill. It was the first house built in 1871 after the auction which offered the King family's Solar Hill land for sale as residential lots. The lot was bought by Professor J. H. Winston who sold it to Dr. William Whitten. Mrs. Whitten advertised in the newspapers of the day that she had rooms to rent and that it had a beautiful view of the mountains, which is still true today.
Later the house was sold to Dr. Wallace who at the time was in business with the Buntings who owned Buntings Drug Store. Wallace sold the home to L. F. Johnson. He eventually gave it to his daughter, Mrs. W. C. Carrington, who became a noted writer and wrote a history of one of the counties in upper Virginia.
The home was bought by Mr. Blakely who was an owner of the Blakely-Mitchell Company (a men's haberdashery) on State Street. He had the brick house stuccoed over in the 1920s. The entire bill for the renovation back then came to a little over five thousand dollars, quite a bargain by today's standards.
In 2003 the house was bought by Deborah Jones and her father Robert, who began restoration of the property. Deborah is a published professional writer with graduate training from the University of California and is an alumna of Kalamazoo College, one of Michigan’s oldest and finest private schools. She is director of the Solar Hill Historic District Association (http://solarhill.tripod.com) and has written a grant to bring almost half a million dollars to beautify the area. Solar Hill is named after an astronomical observatory was located there to view the total solar eclipse of 1869. It is Bristol’s oldest residential neighborhood and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Deborah is the daughter of native Bristolian Virginia Kaylor Jones, a gifted pianist and vocalist who once sang in operettas with Tennessee Ernie Ford. Deborah is the granddaughter of Mrs. A. B. ‘Lonnie’ Kaylor of Bristol. Lonnie was one of Bristol’s earliest female real estate entrepreneurs who bought and sold residential homes and owned several businesses, including the Columbia Theater. She was a philanthropist and long-time member of Calvary Baptist Church who donated land to start several churches including Bethel View Baptist Church and Central Baptist Church.