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

Sep 14, 1876

1896

Lester Lumber Company was founded in the Dyer Store in a Virginia community.

Mar 6, 1896

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.

Nov 18, 1919
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

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 Ruritans as a haunted house.

1926

The Liberty Heights swimming pool opened

The Liberty Heights swimming pool opened. Cap’n Til converted his reservoir for recreational use for the local Kiwanis Club approached him. The pool remained open until 1957.

1939

G.T. Lester, Jr. became the second president of the company

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

During World War II

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

The early 1950s

A modern bandsaw was put into production at the sawmill

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.

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 .

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.

1973

Passing of G.T. “Cap’n Til”, the founder of Lester.

Mar 20, 1973

1973

Lester Lumber Company, Inc. changed to The Lester Group, Inc.

Dec 15, 1973

1974

Jim Carpenter Company, located in Madison, Virginia, was purchased.

Aug 5, 1974

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.

Nov 5, 1986
This is Lester’s first pressure-treated wood plant.

1987

The Liberty Heights Swimming Pool was demolished

Aug 1, 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

Feb 28, 1995

2005

Fortress Wood Products established a third location in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Jul 2, 2005

2010

Taylor Brothers, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, was purchased.

2010

After working on widening Armory Drive for nearly 10 years, Commonwealth Boulevard became a four-lane highway.

2013

The Greensboro Fortress Wood Products moved to High Points, North Carolina.

2015

Building Supply of Manassas opened in Manassas, Virginia.

April 2016

Fortress Door Company purchased in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

2019

Fortress Door location moved within Fredericksburg, Virginia to its current location Mine Road.

Jun 1, 2019

2020

New River Valley Building Supply, located in Christiansburg, Virginia, opened.

May 1, 2020