Around 1803, the Pennybacker family constructed Columbia Furnace along Stoney Creek west of Edinburg. Additional lands were added in 1808 and the company was sold to John Arthur & Co. It was later owned by the Newman family, who operated it during the Civil War.
That conflict saw the destruction of the furnace by Union forces. According to the historic site survey conducted in Shenandoah County, the superintendent’s house was the only building spared. This two story structure, built in the 1820s was altered by additions in the early 1900s. It is probably the oldest house in Columbia Furnace.
After the war, the iron furnace was reopened by the Whissen family, who also operated Liberty Furnace. The company they organized was called the Columbia-Liberty Iron Company.
It became the target of a race riot in January of 1880. The company had recently hired several African-American employees. In response, a group of armed white residents attacked both furnaces and drove away the owners. The militia responded and drove the rioters into the woods but was unable to fully disperse them. To prevent further troubles, the Whissens agreed to fire all black workers if the rioters returned home. They agreed, and the African American presence in the iron furnaces, dating from before the Civil War when slaves were employed there, ended. Local newspapers wrote there was a need to evict black labor was strong because of the tendency to cause problems.
In 1884 the Whissens sold Columbia and Liberty Furnaces to a group of investors from Philadelphia. Two years later, the company went into receivership and the furnaces were closed. While Liberty later reopened, Columbia would remain shuttered for good. Soon after the land, including the superintendents house, was sold in small plots to the public. Since then, this site has been a private residence.