161 Mountain View Avenue - Conway House

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The house located at 161 Mountain View Avenue which currently is owned by Averett University is located on a small lot adjacent to the land on which Forest Hills School was built in 1934. The Global Positioning System coordinates of the site are N 36 degrees 34.714’, W 079 degrees 24.900’, Elevation 594’.

Only one family of Conways ever lived in the home, being that of Alexander Carson Conway, Jr. (June 12, 1909 – August 26, 1960) and his wife, Helen Bouck (October 13, 1905 – February 9, 2006). Mr. Conway was born in Danville and spent most of his life here. He lived with his parents, Alexander Carson Conway, (June 23, 1861 – November 13, 1946) and Corinne Gray (February 25, 1880 – July 8, 1951) at 218 West Main Street until his marriage on March 9, 1935. He was a realtor and served as a book keeper for one of his father’s businesses, the Home Building and Loan and Investment Co. He attended Danville Military Institute, Woodberry Forest and the University of Virginia. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, the Danville Golf Club and the Virginia Society of Cincinnati. He died after a long illness of eight months.

Helen Bouck Conway continued to live in the Conway House after her husband’s death until her death. She negotiated with Averett about the disposition of the property after her death finally agreeing to bequeath the property to Averett at her death with stipulations designed to keep the property as residential. Mrs. Conway was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., a daughter of James Barnes Bouck, Jr. and Nettie Moore of Canaan, Conn. She resided for most of her life in Danville where she was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church, the Danville Golf Club, the Danville Garden Club and the Wednesday Club.

The father of Alexander Conway, Jr., Alexander Carson Conway, Sr., was more active in the affairs of Averett and the City than was his son. As chairman of a committee of the trustees of Roanoke Female College, the predecessor of Averett College, consisting of himself, his cousin, Powhatan Fitzhugh Conway (P. F. ) and H. L. Boatwright, the committee purchased the site on which the college would eventually be built. Jane Gray Hagan in her book, “The Story of Danville”, published in 1950 comments that the committee “secured the present site of more than 15 acres, then little more than an unsightly washed-out gully and held it for the college until it was ready to build”. Over the years Averett has transformed the “gully” into an attractive and functional campus.

Phillip Alexander Bruce, LL. B., LL. D., Centennial Historian of the University of Virginia and late Corresponding Secretary of the Virginia Historical Society was the editor of a 5-volume work entitled “Virginia Rebirth of the Old Dominion” published in 1929. On pages 416 – 418 of Volume 4 of this work there is an extensive biography of Alexander Carson Conway which traces his lineage from Edwin Conway who came to Virginia from England in 1640 and gives details of his life including his birth in Spring Garden, his presidency of Danville Theaters, Inc. which operated the Rialto, Broadway, Majestic and Capitol theaters in Danville, his membership on the building committee which erected the Main Building of Averett, his membership on the Danville School Board and the Danville City Council, his membership in the Kiwanis Club, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Danville County, Danville Golf and Tuscarora Clubs. He was a Democrat, and for years was a deacon at the First Baptist Church. He was married twice, first to Lillian May Cardwell on January 25, 1888 with whom he had one surviving child, Annie Lillian who married Lee Averett Wilson and had three children, and then to Corinne Gray, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 25, 1880. From the second marriage were born three children, Emily Corinne, born August 22, 1902 and married Judge Archibald Murphey Aiken and had a son Archibald Murphey Aiken, Jr., born January 23, 1924, Mary Anderson Conway, born January 16, 1906 and Alexander Carson Conway, Jr. Alexander Carson Conway, Sr. owned a beautiful home at 218 West Main Street which was demolished to make way for the extension of Route 86 through Danville.

Bruce’s “Virginia, Rebirth of the Old Dominion” also contains an extensive biography of Powhatan Fitzhugh Conway on pages 414-416 of Volume 4 which includes information on his heritage, his executive and management connection with the Danville Lumber and Manufacturing Company of Danville, his connection with Averett College of which he was a member of the Board of Trustees for a quarter of a century and his membership in Roman Eagle Masonic Lodge No. 122 and other York Rite Masonic organizations and the Shrine. He served as vice-president of the Masonic Building Corporation which erected the handsome eleven-story Masonic Temple building in Danville. He was a member of First Baptist Church where he served as a deacon for many years and was superintendent of the Sunday School for 15 years. He belonged to the Tuscarora Club and was president of the Danville Golf Club during the time when the course was laid out and the clubhouse built. Politically he was a Democrat.

It can be seen that the Conways hold an important place in the history of Danville and its institutions, but the only remaining structure that bears the Conway name is the one at 161 Mountain View Avenue.