101 E Commonwealth Blvd | Martinsville, Virginia 24112


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Birth of G.T. “Cap’n Til” Lester, Founder
Lester Lumber Company was founded in the Dyer Store Community of Virginia.
Lester Lumber Company moved to Martinsville, Virginia.
Site of Lester Lumber Company sawmill was purchased.
The Wedding Cake House, located on Starling Avenue, was built by Cap’n Til
“About that time, people were building their first indoor bathrooms. But they always tacked them on the outer wall, so the pipes were continually freezing up. I figured [out how] to beat that by beginning with a three-story square in the center of the house to include the basement heating system, bathrooms and stairway. The walls of this core run straight to the roof.”
Source: Cap’n Til, The Mountain Mover
Lester Lumber Company sawmill burnt to the ground.

This was a devasting fire and the company did not have insurance. This was the first major fire that burned the plant and material to the ground.
Cap’n Til rebuilt Lester Lumber Company with concrete and steel.
Cap’n Til engineered and constructed a 2-million-gallon reservoir on top of Liberty Heights bluff for fire protection of the sawmill.

Water was pumped from the nearby creek, Jones Creek. After the Lester Lumber Company plant was rebuilt, hardwood flooring was added to the list of building supplies and the manufacture of plow handles was discontinued.
Cap’n Til purchased the land for a plant in Koehler, Virginia on the Smith River to produce blocks and sand for concrete.

Among other things, this building was used for casting concrete and blocks (an acoustical material). Additionally, the plant was used by the JayCee’s as a haunted house.
The Liberty Heights swimming pool opened.

Cap’n Til converted his reservoir for recreational use after being approached by the local Kiwanis Club. The pool remained open until 1957.
G.T. Lester, Jr. became the second president of the company, succeeding his father. He served until 1964.
Birth of George W. Lester, II
The federal government called on Lester Lumber Company to produce barracks and “packaged houses” for export to Russia.
Fire gutted the Koehler plant and destroyed the machinery.
Wholesale Supply Company opened.
A modern bandsaw was put into production at the sawmill.

This gave the company the ability to utilize more of the timber, thus minimizing waste.
Another fire destroyed the company’s four-story retail outlet, materials warehouse and office on Franklin Street.
The retail division of Lester Lumber Company combined with a Wholesale Supply Company and became Lester Home Center.

They offered more than 9,000 home-building products for sale. Moved to present location in [DATE TO BE CONFIRMED]
Tilden J. Lester became the president and treasurer of the company.
Lester Lumber Company’s corporate offices moved adjacent to Lester Home Center.
After working on widening Armory Drive for nearly 10 years, Commonwealth Boulevard became a four-lane highway.
Passing of G.T. “Cap’n Til”, the founder of Lester.
Lester Lumber Company, Inc. changed to The Lester Group, Inc.
Jim Carpenter Company, located in Madison, Virginia, was purchased.
Lester Development Corp. (formerly Kroger Development) was founded.
“George was always interested in real estate development, but banks would not lend money for this type of development (restaurants, shopping centers and the like) if it were tied to Lester Lumber Company. This was why Lester Development Group came about. It gave George the ability to borrow money to get development in Martinsville underway,”
states Barry Fulcher.
Fortress Wood Products opened in Greensboro, North Carolina.

This is Lester’s first pressure-treated wood plant.
The Liberty Heights Swimming Pool was demolished to make way for a new era: The Liberty Fair Mall.

The mall would serve the shopping needs of the community. Before it opened, the closest malls were in Roanoke and Greensboro.
Jim Carpenter Company relocated to Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Fortress Wood Products opened a second facility in Henderson, North Carolina.
Fortress Wood Products established a third location in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Taylor Brothers, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, was purchased.
The Greensboro Fortress Wood Products moved to High Point, North Carolina.
Building Supply of Manassas opened in Manassas, Virginia.
Fortress Door Company purchased in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Fortress Door location moved within Fredericksburg, Virginia to its current location on Mine Road.
New River Valley Building Supply, located in Christiansburg, Virginia, opened.