A recent study of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s AmeriCorps program suggests its heritage tourism programming is an important economic engine for West Virginia, according to Danielle Parker, executive director for the alliance.
The study found that more than half of travelers who visit the program’s heritage sites traveled from more than 50 miles and that each visit generated nearly one night’s hotel stay and an average of $271.30 for the local economy, Parker said.
Heritage tourism usually include museums, state parks, historical theaters, and living history sites such as Jackson’s Mill, near Weston, or Carnegie Hall, in Lewisburg.
The study also found that museums and historical organizations contribute positively to the quality of life in the state’s cities and towns and that people enjoy and learn from their visits to sponsor organizations, Parker said.
The alliance worked with McMahon Consulting Group to study the effects that the program and heritage tourism have on West Virginia.
“We discovered that AmeriCorps members are essential to providing an excellent visitor experience and to developing their site for tourists,” Parker said.
“It’s clear from the study that AmeriCorps members’ service is leading to more effective organizations and improving the quality of visitor experiences.”
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is a statewide service initiative in which AmeriCorps members are engaged to Main Streets thrive and communities capture their history, and to preserve beloved historical landmarks.
AmeriCorps members serve one-year terms at historical organizations where they complete special projects aimed at developing heritage-tourism destinations and improving the sponsoring organization’s ability to carry out its missions.
There are more than 20 historical sites sponsoring Preserve WV AmeriCorps members in 2019, Parker said. Two high-profile sponsors include Cockayne Farmstead, at Glen Dale, and the Waldomore, at Clarksburg.
Jessica Kittle, assistant director for the memorial foundation for Pricketts Fort State Park, reported that her organization’s participation in the program for two years benefited the foundation “by helping us fulfill our mission of preservation through various projects that we would not have been able to complete on our own.”
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is celebrating its sixth year of operation and is currently competing to become a nationally-recognized program.
Download the full report here.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is praising federal legislative action this week for protecting the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, which is part of 18 counties including Randolph County.
Manchin, a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, secured the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the national designation of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and an increase in the funding cap for the Wheeling National Heritage Area as part of the Natural Resources Management Act.
“I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally permanently reauthorize LWCF so our land management agencies can operate fully and without the fear of losing access to the funding they rely on. The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a treasure in Randolph County and this national designation is long overdue,” Manchin added.
“By reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, this bill supports West Virginia’s heritage and outdoor recreation economy and keeps faith with the important idea that America’s outdoors and public lands are part of who we are as a nation,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers.
LWCF is a conservation tool that ensures states and federal public land management agencies are able to protect and conserve our natural resources without relying on taxpayer dollars. In West Virginia, LWCF funded the acquisitions of the Gauley River National Recreation Area, New River Gorge National River and Dolly Sods. Since 1965, more than $243 million in LWCF funds have been spent in West Virginia on more than 500 projects, both on state and federal lands.
This includes improvements to local parks and public spaces in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
To read the full article, visit the Intermountain's website at www.theintermountain.com/news/local-news/2019/02/forest-heritage-area-receives-designation/?fbclid=IwAR1sTMTTTLEegcPCRiZrjqIitSA2InvF1267CLT4wF1MFTAPznAV8dW4BKA
Another group project took place in Arthurdale and involved adding UV film to nine sets of windows, plus small window panes near a doorway, at New Deal era house, E-15. Volunteers first cleaned the windows with a wood-safe solution then applied UV film to individual window panes. The added film will help block UV radiation from the sunlight and control indoor temperatures. It will also help preserve a number of sensitive artifacts displayed in the living room and two bedrooms, including textiles, documents, photographs, and furniture. Upon completion of the project, it was clear that the UV film dimmed and cooled the light entering the rooms while still allowing enough natural light to enter for visitors to see without turning on artificial lights aiding in the preservation of light sensitive artifacts.
In a work day organized by AmeriCorps member, Kyle Warmack, at the Dubois on Main Museum in Mount Hope, AmeriCorps members and volunteers cleaned out the DuBois community garden, including weeding more than half a dozen large planters. Museum exhibition areas were dusted and cleaned. Most importantly, members created a collections list and cataloged 230 museum items, laying the foundation for a future collections database and building a much-needed inventory before the Museum embarks on a large-scale document scanning project. This project served the Mount Hope community and the 150+ remaining DuBois alumni who meet every two years to commemorate their school and its important chapter in African American and West Virginia history. This museum is the only comprehensive repository of DuBois knowledge.
The success of the projects and the gratitude shown by the individuals and organizations who benefitted from them demonstrated a clear need to continue to plan and organize AmeriCorps group projects throughout West Virginia. As a result, these projects will continue to be a program requirement again during the 2018-2019 service year, which begins on August 28. As we enter a new service year, the Preservation Alliance plans to implement even more group projects throughout the state with members reaching out to different organizations and sites who are dedicated to historic preservation throughout West Virginia. If you are interested in hosting a team of AmeriCorps members for a group project, contact Danielle Parker at email@example.com. All group project sites must be owned by a nonprofit or municipality and be historic in nature. You can also aid in these projects by donating to PAWV. We accept monetary, supply, and volunteer time as donations.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps is a statewide service initiative where AmeriCorps members help main streets thrive, help communities capture their local history, and preserve beloved West Virginia landmarks. This program is made possible through a generous grant from Volunteer West Virginia and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
You can nominate your favorite historic preservation project or a deserving volunteer or professional to be recognized and celebrated at the 2018 West Virginia Historic Preservation Awards. Complete a nomination form and email it and photos to AmeriCorps@pawv.org by 5pm on Friday, August 17, 2018, and your nomination will be considered.
Award recipients receive a complimentary ticket to the banquet and a special award. The banquet will be held at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg, WV on Friday evening, September 21, 2018.
Download a nomination form here.
Visit here to read about past award winners.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s statewide service initiative where members help main streets thrive, help communities capture their local history, and help preserve beloved West Virginia landmarks. The purpose of the Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is to implement historic preservation and heritage tourism projects throughout WV by way of historic resource reuse, improvement, and interpretation. A historic resource could be a building, museum/archival collection, structure, landscape, or historic district / downtown commercial district. Members' service will emphasize community development and revitalization through projects focused on historic preservation, volunteer management, and cultural heritage tourism development.
Members will be placed with individual sites across the state, ranging from museums and archives to Main Street organizations and city agencies. Preserve WV AmeriCorps offers 2 main categories of site placements for members: Museums, Archives, and Heritage Sites; and Historic Districts, Revitalization Sites, and Thematic Regional Sites. Within those categories, each site has individual needs. A detailed description of all sites and their specific task lists (plus more information about the program) will be provided to applicants upon receipt of the initial application; alternately, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy in advance.
All members’ duties will include some combination of the following:
For more information, see http://www.pawv.org/americorps.html
More than a decade after closing its doors to students, Dunbar School may have found a second life as the city of Fairmont, the Dunbar School Foundation and Fairmont State University are working together to turn the building into a community center and museum.
Fairmont city planner Sandra Scaffidi said that due to several requests from residents, plans started to come together to renovate the school, starting small by installing a bathroom in the school’s gym.
“We’ve been hearing from the community that there’s need for indoor gymnasium space,” Scaffidi said.
“Dunbar has a gymnasium inside, but it needs to be refurbished a little bit. The main deterrent for using the gymnasium is that it doesn’t have a working bathroom facility right now, so the idea is to create an ADA-accessible bathroom. That’ll just allow people to utilize the space while the foundation is continuing to rehabilitate the building.”
The Dunbar School Foundation has been caring for the building since its closure, and the school has thankfully remained in good shape, according to Fairmont State Architecture Department Chair Philip Freeman, who has helped work on the project with his students.
“From a structural point of view, it’s a sound building,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t require a whole lot to get back into use. There are a lot of cosmetic issues, but the big issue with getting the building up and running immediately would be HVAC, electrical and plumbing — the systems that make a building usable.”
The building would also need a new roof.
Dunbar School Foundation President Houston Richardson said the team is constantly working to secure funding for the project, although it has hit a few rough patches.
“We’ve applied for heritage grants,” Richardson said. “We have tried for Bowers Grants before, but they don’t like dealing with bricks and mortar, and we have been turned away. Right now, we have a historical-type grant out, which Sandra put out for us. The Bowers Grant is due this week. That’s where we’re at right now.”
The foundation has also held community events to raise money and is hoping to do more in the future.
Read the entire article at https://www.wvnews.com/fairmontnews/news/plans-underway-to-renovate-dunbar-school/article_024d96bd-40e2-5313-9d6e-da957258eb0e.html
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is launching a new funding initiative, the Historic Preservation Loan Fund, where it will partner with local and regional lending agencies to guarantee up to 20 percent of loans for historic preservation projects. The Historic Loan Fund will target West Virginia Endangered Properties and commercial structures that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The alliance is partnering with Woodlands Community Lenders, Natural Capital Investment Fund, and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority to pilot the fund and leverage more resources for larger revitalization projects in Barbour, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers and Tucker counties.
The Historic Preservation Loan Fund is a revolving loan guaranty program whereby the alliance will promise, or guarantee, its loan funds in case a borrower defaults. This will in turn minimize risk for lending financial institutions and assist candidates that may not have the capital for a regular bank loan. “Made possible with a grant from the 1772 Foundation, the Historic Preservation Loan Fund focuses primarily on construction costs, but borrowers may also apply for acquisition and predevelopment costs, as well as grant funding match,” explained Danielle LaPresta, Executive Director for the alliance. “We are hoping to assist small borrowers like nonprofit organizations and local residents who lack access to the credit resources available to large borrowers, but feel passionately about saving and re-purposing a historic building.” According to LaPresta, these projects are also eligible for a 45 percent historic rehabilitation tax credit and state-issued Development Grants, among other grant funding. Applicants for the Historic Preservation Loan Fund will also receive technical assistance from the alliance, and nonprofit organizations may be eligible for Preserve WV AmeriCorps support.
While several preservation organizations have had success with similar loan programs in states across the United States, this will be the first revolving fund of its kind in West Virginia. With sustainability in mind, the alliance developed the program so that when borrowers pay back loans to local lending partners, the alliance’s funds will be opened up for new applicants. This allows the alliance to stretch the $25,000 grant it received from the 1772 Foundation in February to assist more projects across the state. “We are very grateful to the 1772 Foundation for supporting the development of this loan guaranty program for the last three years, and we are working hard to grow these seed funds,” said LaPresta. The alliance continues to raise funds for the Historic Preservation Loan Fund. “Every dollar we raise will go directly to guarantee loans,“ explained LaPresta. Interested individuals can contribute to this new financial resource at http://www.pawv.org.
Anyone interested in applying for loans using the Historic Preservation Loan Fund should contact Danielle LaPresta at email@example.com or by calling 304-345-6005.
economic development efforts throughout the state. Historic preservation can have a significant positive impact on downtown revitalization, business viability and growth, job creation, tax revenues, property values and tourism activity – all of which provide opportunities to combine her personal interests and professional position.
Debra recently completed a Historic Preservation certificate program through Bucks County Community College and is a certified Historic Real Estate Finance Professional. She also serves at the national level on the accreditation committee of America’s SBDC.
Thank you, Debra, for your enthusiasm and service!
A New Deal-era house in Arthurdale is better preserved thanks to a collaborative project between Arthurdale Heritage, Inc., and local AmeriCorps members.
On March 15, AmeriCorps members with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia worked with the Arthurdale Heritage community to apply UV protection film to the windows of the site’s historic house museum. This UV film will help ensure the longevity of artifacts inside the house, such as documents, photographs, textiles, and furniture, that are sensitive to light and changes in temperature.
The two-story Wagner-style house built in 1935 gives visitors a sense of life at Arthurdale, the nation’s first New Deal Subsistence Homestead Community. Established by the Roosevelt administration in 1933, Arthurdale provided jobs, education, and modern housing for impoverished and unemployed local people. It also served as a laboratory for new educational, industrial, and farming techniques. Arthurdale Heritage, Inc., was formed in 1985 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the cultural heritage of historic Arthurdale, located in Preston County.
This hands-on service project brought together a number of AmeriCorps members from West Virginia. It was organized by Pamela Curtin, a Preserve WV AmeriCorps member serving with Clio, a nonprofit website and mobile app developed by Marshall University that connects the public to historic and cultural sites.
“Arthurdale’s historic structures and artifacts have unique stories to tell,” says Curtin, who is based in Morgantown. “These stories are not only nationally-significant, but also personally meaningful to the families who lived and continue to live there. This project presented a wonderful opportunity to help preserve this history.”
Curtin coordinated the project with Nora Sutton, an Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps member serving with Arthurdale Heritage as a Museum Associate. “Collaborative projects like this one are so important to Arthurdale Heritage’s mission to preserve the structures and artifacts in our care,” says Sutton. “Applying this protective film to the house windows will help us care for unique textiles and furniture that were made here by original homesteaders. It was great to work with other AmeriCorps members dedicated to preserving the past.”
Both Curtin and Sutton are alumni of West Virginia University’s Public History MA program.
Several other AmeriCorps members volunteered for the project, including Rachel Niswander, Charlotte Riestenberg, Sydney Stapleton, and Jason Wright. Ed Turnley, Vice President of the Board of Directors and member of the Arthurdale Heritage Maintenance Committee, oversaw volunteer tasks, such as cleaning the windows and measuring, cutting, and applying the UV film. Turnley is also an Arthurdale homesteader descendant whose family lived not far from the house the volunteers worked on.
This project contributes to a larger effort by Arthurdale Heritage to preserve its historic structures, which also include community and administrative buildings, barns, a former gas station, and an iron forge.
Supplies for this project, including the professional UV film, were generously funded by the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the state’s leading grassroots organization dedicated to the support and promotion of historic preservation. In addition to education, outreach, and advocacy, PAWV coordinates an AmeriCorps program that places volunteers with small museums, heritage tourism agencies, and main street groups.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.
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