101 E Commonwealth Blvd | Martinsville, Virginia 24112

Mon–Fri 8 to 5 | Sat 8 to 12

Call Us (276) 632-2195

1876
Birth of G.T. “Cap’n Til” Lester, Founder
1896
Lester Lumber Company was founded in the Dyer Store Community of Virginia.
1914
Lester Lumber Company moved to Martinsville, Virginia.
1915
Site of Lester Lumber Company sawmill was purchased.
1918
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
1919
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.
1920
Cap’n Til rebuilt Lester Lumber Company with concrete and steel.
1920
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.
1923
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.
1926
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.
1939
G.T. Lester, Jr. became the second president of the company, succeeding his father. He served until 1964.
1939
Birth of George W. Lester, II
WWII
The federal government called on Lester Lumber Company to produce barracks and “packaged houses” for export to Russia.
1946
Fire gutted the Koehler plant and destroyed the machinery.
1949
Wholesale Supply Company opened.
1950s
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.
1957
Another fire destroyed the company’s four-story retail outlet, materials warehouse and office on Franklin Street.
1964
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]
1964
Tilden J. Lester became the president and treasurer of the company.
1969
Lester Lumber Company’s corporate offices moved adjacent to Lester Home Center.
1971
After working on widening Armory Drive for nearly 10 years, Commonwealth Boulevard became a four-lane highway.
1973
Passing of G.T. “Cap’n Til”, the founder of Lester.
1973
Lester Lumber Company, Inc. changed to The Lester Group, Inc.
1974
Jim Carpenter Company, located in Madison, Virginia, was purchased.
1975
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.
1986
Fortress Wood Products opened in Greensboro, North Carolina.

This is Lester’s first pressure-treated wood plant.
1987
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.
1995
Jim Carpenter Company relocated to Fredericksburg, Virginia.
1999
Fortress Wood Products opened a second facility in Henderson, North Carolina.
2005
Fortress Wood Products established a third location in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
2010
Taylor Brothers, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, was purchased.
2013
The Greensboro Fortress Wood Products moved to High Point, North Carolina.
2015
Building Supply of Manassas opened in Manassas, Virginia.
2016
Fortress Door Company purchased in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
2019
Fortress Door location moved within Fredericksburg, Virginia to its current location on Mine Road.
2020
New River Valley Building Supply, located in Christiansburg, Virginia, opened.