I.C. Fowler Home
The I. C. Fowler house, located at 417 Spencer St. in Bristol, VA, was built by Isaac Chapman Fowler in 1867. It is the oldest standing structure from the original town limits of Goodson, VA and the oldest house in the Virginia Hill Historic District. It was constructed by carpenter and furniture maker George Blackley in the Greek Revival architectural style. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Landmarks Register as a contributing structure to the Virginia Hill Historic District.
I.C. Fowler was from Tazewell, VA and educated at Emory and Henry College. He served in the Commissary Department of the Confederate States of America. Fowler moved to Goodson, VA soon after the end of the Civil War. He purchased, along with his brother Elbert, the Bristol News and was the editor of that paper. Fowler served as Mayor of Goodson, VA from 1871-1875. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates twice, first serving from 1875-1879 and his second term was from 1881-1883. He was Speaker of the House from 1881-1882. Fowler was appointed as Clerk of the U.S. District Court in Abingdon in 1884 at which time he moved from this house to a house on Main St. in Abingdon, VA. It was in the parlor of this house that I.C. Fowler, W.W. James and several other businessmen formed the committee to establish Sullins College that was eventually built on King St. in Bristol, VA. Fowler died in 1905 and is buried in East Hill Cemetery in Bristol, VA.
Charles Finch and his family became the second occupants of the house when Fowler and his family moved to Abingdon in 1884. Mr. Finch worked for the N&W Railroad and was a member of the Goodson Town Council. It was on his motion that Goodson was renamed Bristol, VA. The house has had many owners. It was split into two apartments and used as rental property for years. Blevins Funeral Home, located on Lee St., owned the house and used it for storage. Sid Oakley of Blevins Funeral Home donated the house to the non-profit group Bristol-Goodson Preservationists, Inc. in 1990 with the stipulation that the house be restored. The Bristol-Goodson group worked on the house for several years with plans to use it as a history resource center. Failing to secure the funds needed to complete the restoration, the Bristol-Goodson Preservationists donated the house to the Bristol Historical Association in 2004 with the same stipulation that the house be restored. The Historical Association had plans to use it to display and store all their old photos of Bristol. The Historical Association was also unable to secure the funds needed to restore the house so the Board of Directors voted to sell the house with the stipulation that the exterior of the house maintain its 1867 appearance.
The Bristol Historical Association sold the Fowler house to Scott Otis in 2009. Mr. Otis grew up in the Virginia Hill neighborhood behind the Fowler house at 422 Lee St.; where his parents still live today. Mr. Otis is a graduate of Virginia Tech and has over fifteen years of experience restoring homes in Savannah, GA and Bristol, VA/TN. The I.C. Fowler house is currently undergoing a major restoration. Once completed, it will become Mr. Otis’ private residence.