Beckley, Raleigh County
Construction Date: 1900—1945
Threat: Loss of Historic Integrity
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the site’s last update in 2016, three historic buildings on Neville Street were deemed by an engineer to be in imminent danger of collapse. As a result, in June 2016, the buildings were demolished at the authorization of the City of Beckley - despite the hopes of the Beckley Historic Landmark Commission that the buildings could be saved. This is most unfortunate, as the loss of these buildings increases concerns that the district could lose its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. If the district were de-listed, property owners there would no longer qualify for state development grants and tax credits for continued historic preservation efforts.
Unfortunately, two other notable buildings, the former Beckley Newspaper Buildings on Prince Street, were also deemed hazardous; as of May 2016, the City of Beckley is planning demolition. The 1950s structures, which were too young to qualify for listing when the Beckley Courthouse Square National Historic District was originally created, were determined non-contributing at the time. However, they now exceed the 50-year age threshold, and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) believes the buildings may be architecturally significant and that they would be eligible to be listed on the NRHP as part of the historic district. Thus far, the City of Beckley has not followed through on the process of determining whether these buildings are National Register-eligible.
2015: Beckley Courthouse Square Historic District, encompasses approximately eight city blocks surrounding the county courthouse, including the main streets of Neville, Main, Prince and Heber. The district’s private commercial buildings were constructed using local sandstone and brick with simple architectural detail, and the public buildings (e.g. banks, churches, government buildings) were constructed using local sandstone, brick and limestone, with heavy architectural details and more classical designs.
Since receiving its National Register designation in 1994, more than 20 of the 100 contributing properties have been demolished and another 20 have been remodeled without concern for the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Additional contributing properties are currently threatened by demolition. Because of the loss of historic integrity, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office has warned that the Beckley Courthouse Square Historic District is in danger of being removed from the National Register of Historic Places.
In an effort to maintain the district’s status on the National Register of Historic Places, the nominator, a member of the Raleigh County Historic Landmark Commission hopes to educate stakeholders regarding the value of the district, provide training to the Beckley Historic Landmark Commission to assist in their efforts to manage the district, and provide technical assistance to historic property owners within the Beckley Courthouse Square Historic District.
Endangered Properties List
If you are interested in assisting with any of these preservation projects, contact the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org.