By Alex, PAWV VISTA
As my one year VISTA term comes to an end this week, this will be my last blog post for PAWV. What a year it has been!
I joined PAWV in April 2014. We were off to a running start with conference planning for our 2014 Conference in Huntington, WV. I helped set up our small, #3 office to a functional work space as I learned the ropes and started traveling to some of PAWV’s sites.
Our AmeriCorps member, Rodney, moved on in August and 2014-2015’s AmeriCorps member, Nicole joined our little team. Nicole’s first term started in September.
After the conference we focused on fundraising and I helped start the “On the Road” photo campaign and implemented the miles fundraiser for the end of the year. I also completed my research on the Historic Preservation Development Grants and wrote a full report on its funding. Hopefully, that will be used for future historic preservation advocacy.
The new year brought more things to do. We started the process of choosing a location for the 2015 awards banquet and my hometown of Grafton, WV won in the the online vote. This year’s awards banquet will be held September 19, 2015 at the historic B & O Train Depot in downtown Grafton. I look forward to attending.
Once we had our small #3 Darden office set up and running, we realized that we needed more space! So in March, we packed up our stuff and moved down the hall into office #4, with more space for our files and second desk for our other staff members.
With the growing need for advocacy and attention on West Virginia’s historic buildings, we started the Buildings At Risk Register (B.A.R.R.). We have already begun listing buildings on it and I’m excited to see it take off. It’s great to see Preservation Alliance of West Virginia growing even in the one year I have been here and I hope to see it continue to thrive as I participate as a member. I will always have a special place in my heart for the Darden House at 421 Davis Avenue.
WHAT’S WILD? WHAT’S WONDERFUL? WHAT PRODUCES AMERICORPS? WEST VIRGINIA ANNOUNCED AS TOP 5 #AMERISTATES
As part of National Volunteer Week, Volunteer West Virginia announced today that West Virginia ranks 5th among states for citizens enrolled in AmeriCorps per capita, according to new data released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program and leads the nation’s national service and volunteer programs.
“Volunteers are at the heart of our state’s communities, and AmeriCorps members are an indispensable resource for a number of West Virginians across the state,” said Governor Tomblin. “Citizen service is an essential part of solving many of the challenges West Virginia and our nation face, and AmeriCorps members unite people to support a common goal. I’m grateful for the West Virginians and those around the country who have answered the call to serve one another through AmeriCorps.”
Since AmeriCorps began 20 years ago, West Virginia has produced nearly 11,000 members who have given more than 17 million hours of service to their communities. This year, more than 1000 members will serve in communities across West Virginia. The program allows volunteers to make a difference while obtaining real-life education and work experience.
“I remember them saying in one of our trainings that one year in AmeriCorps is compared to ten years in the workplace. AmeriCorps has given me the opportunity to decide what I want to do with my future,” said Richelle Pugh LifeBridge AmeriCorps Member.
“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said WendySpencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Building on West Virginia’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members from West Virginia will improve lives and strengthen communities across the nation. I salute all the AmeriCorps members from West Virginia for their dedication, and thank our outstanding partners who make their service possible.”
AmeriCorps West Virginia is currently seeking members for 2015-2016. Discover your future in service. To learn more visit http://www.volunteerwv.org .
Volunteer West Virginia is the state’s Commission for National and Community Service. The agency challenges West Virginians to strengthen their communities through service and volunteerism by identifying and mobilizing resources, promoting an ethic of service, and empowering communities to solve problems and improve the quality of life for individuals and families.
The situation regarding the property first came to light during a historic resource survey undertaken in August as part of the Bridges to the Past educational outreach initiative – a partnership of the alliance and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. The Helen Apartments were one of the highlights during a tour of the Winding Gulf communities including Helen, Sophia, and Tams. The Winding Gulf Restoration Organization (WeGROw), a 501(c)3, took interest in saving the structure based on a structural narrative needs assessment developed by the alliance’s field services staff. This document details the current condition of structures, outlines building materials and their historic uses, and prioritizes steps needed to preserve and re-use structures. The former property owner agreed to let the building go to WeGRow, and the Raleigh County Commission was approached and agreed to grant WeGROw the funds to cover the costs associated with taking ownership.
Plans have been made to clean the apartment of all debris and mothball it. The purpose of mothballing the building is to secure it from weather and vandalism until it can be rehabilitated and put into a new use. The alliance led volunteers in fabricating plywood panels for the doors and windows. Volunteers will begin installing panels to secure the first floor. Additionally, they will clear the apartments and finish securing the entrances. The process for mothballing of the property is being documented on high definition video by the Fine Arts Department of Liberty High School, and still photography by Michael Burk, a former Preserve WV AmeriCorps member who is also a professional photographer. Various local and state organizations have gotten involved including The National Coal Heritage Area Authority, Raleigh County Commission, the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and The Raleigh County Office of West Virginia State University Extension Service. Lowe’s will be supplying the construction materials at cost.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is a statewide grassroots organization supporting historic preservation in the mountain state. Since 1982, the nonprofit PAWV has been working to preserve West Virginia’s precious historical resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The alliance announced the Buildings At Risk Register in February in an effort to bring attention to at-risk historical resources that may be lost and efforts to save these special places. “The purpose of the register is to demonstrate that these places matter to West Virginians and there is interest in saving them. It will also be an educational tool about the preservation of historic properties all over the state,” explained Danielle LaPresta, executive director for the alliance. The register will serve as a watch list for individuals wanting to know the status of historical resources in West Virginia. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed once a month by a committee comprised of members of the alliance’s board of directors and staff. The alliance will maintain close contact with persons submitting at risk site applications for advocacy purposes.
“We began applying and you know reaching out for the community to get some recommendations to support us,” said Sherri Heavner, Treasurer of the Harrison County Historical Society.
They received the West Virginia Development Grant, through the State Historic Preservation office to start work where it’s most needed, the exterior of the house.
“And they’re going to put in bracers and spacers and they’re gonna gradually over the course of several months come in here and gradually raise up this portion of the building so that it’s level with the bricks,” said Crystal Wimer the Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps Member for the Harrison County Historical Society
The next step in the renovation process is to get bids for all of the work that needs to be done. The Harrison County historical society hopes that that work will begin sometime this summer.
Yesterday, I participated in a discussion with five other panelists about saving Top O Rock – the iconic modernist structure overlooking Charleston. It was a pleasure to be welcomed into this property by the owners and Sarah Halstead – the dynamic woman spearheading the design competition and campaign to save Top O Rock. It may be demolished since the property has been broken into multiple time, severely vandalized, and stripped of its coppers piping. Sarah organized the panel to talk about what could be done to save Top O Rock with the theme being “what if money was no problem?”.
Top O Rock is such a unique place. Built literally on top of a giant rock with trees growing majestically through holes in the roof, Henry Elden’s masterpiece home is not your usual downtown adaptive re-use topic. This dwelling is so complex and its interior is one of the main components that makes this place historically significant. The panel agreed it’s going to take a lot of creativity and modernist thinking to devise a plan to save this place. During our first meeting to discuss Top O Rock, the committee was a bit stumped. It was hard not to focus on the dollar signs looming over everyone’s heads. Dollar signs are certainly on the owners’ minds. How will the money be raised to rehabilitate the structure? And after that money is raised, how will it be maintained? Can West Virginia stand another house museum?
Luckily it isn’t up to me or the other panelists to decide how to move forward with this project. There is an incredible design competition being sponsored by WVSU Extension’s Economic Development Center, Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, and CWest Properties, LLC. The competition encourages design teams to join together and reinvent Top O Rock. This competition requires innovative, viable restoration, adaptive reuse and sustainable property development plans for Henry Elden’s Top O Rock and the 13 acres of wooded land surrounding it. Since the design competition opened on March 1, Sarah reports that approximately ten teams have signed up from all over the region, including one led by a 13-year-old aspiring female architect. Other teams can still join. Actually, anyone can join! Submissions are due May 8, 2015 (one month from today!) Full competition guidelines and more information can be found at toporockwv.com
Show your support for Top O Rock! Share your ideas for what can be done with this special place. The owners may take you up on your idea, but please keep in mind that the site is not open to the public. Since vandalism and security are serious problems, security cameras and fencing have been installed. Please respect the owners’ requests and stay off this property.
You can take a virtual tour on livestream at
https://livestream.com/accounts/10304715/events/3873379/videos/80475934/player?width=640&height=360&autoPlay=true&mute=true or submit a contact message through the Top O Rock website at http://www.toporockwv.com/#!contact/cbys asking to visit the site.
Some think Top O Rock should remain a personal residence. Others think it could be a public green space.
What if you could save Top O Rock? What would you turn it into?
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is seeking site sponsors for Hands On Team projects for the 2015-2016 year! The AmeriCorps year runs from September, 2015 to August of 2016, with a crew of up to 4 members. The HOT serves on multiple projects, on a project-to-project basis. AFHA is accepting applications for projects relating to hands-on historic preservation, including projects like repointing, in-place window restoration, plaster or siding repair, and painting. Interior projects are highly sought for the winter months. The team can also help with outdoor conservation, recreation, trails, beautification, and landscaping projects. Projects must comply with the Secretary of Interior standards.
The Hands On Team is not a fully qualified construction crew and each project will need a knowledgeable supervisor or contractor. Sites must have cash match, direct supervision, and provide materials and some tools. If further afield, sites may need to include a travel budget, as most of the AmeriCorps members are in Elkins, and lodging.
Applications are due April 20th, 2015. Please email Alison Thornton at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a Hands On Team application.
It currently serves as a venue for the arts including events such as The Rustic Mechanicals performing Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Nights Dream” and The Fearless Fools comedy troop performing an improv show.
Since 2000…and with assistance from the City of Grafton and the State of West Virginia, the International Mother’s Day Shrine purchased the Historic Manos Theatre and have started on its renovations. New bathrooms, electrical upgrades, new roof, some interior renovations, and a lighting and sound system have been updated since this purchase. Future plans are to develop a theatrical play about the history of Grafton, its role in the Civil War and the formation of the International Holiday Mother’s Day. – Grafton, WV, Downtown Revitalization.
‘Like’ the Manos Theater Facebook page for updated on future events and restoration:
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