The Cockayne Farmstead is an incredibly unique place in a sea of historic homes. Built in 1850 and willed to the city in 2001, four generations of the same family lived in the home. However, what makes the home really special is that the family kept everything. And I do mean everything. With an eclectic collection covering everything from Adena arrowheads, an 1895 electric bill, and a calendar from 2001, I’m constantly surprised by the contents of our collections.
Although I’ve only been at the Cockayne Farmstead for a little over two months, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what to expect for the upcoming year. Thus far, I’ve acquired a grant to create the first permanent exhibition on the life of the Cockayne family from 1850 through WWII, set up and began operating the Farmstead’s social media pages, and assisted the county convention and visitor’s bureau in their move to our office next door to the Farmstead. More broadly, I’ll be working on developing the Farmstead as a heritage tourism destination, and improving its capacity to become an arts and educational center within the county. Suffice to say, it’ll be a pretty exciting year! I can’t wait to discover not only what West Virginia has to offer, but also what I can offer my corner of it.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is still accepting applications for new sites to be added to the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail. Theater owners, interested community organizations, and others can apply to add a theater to the Trail by submitting an application form to email@example.com by December 7, 2015, at 5:00pm. Download the application form at the WV Historic Theatre Trail website:
The WV Endangered Properties List is a collection of historic resources identified annually as the historic assets in the Mountain State most in jeopardy of being demolished or destroyed. These properties are also good candidates for re-use in their communities. The alliance revived its endangered list program in 2009 with a competitive application process and with technical assistance provided to the stewards of the selected properties. Technical assistance includes on-site visits from staff and Preserve WV AmeriCorps members, guidance in preservation projects and assistance in organizing clean-up days, hands-on workshops, or other skilled preservation activities.
There is special criteria to be identified as a WV Endangered Property. Each property must be listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; suffer from a demonstrable preservation emergency; and maintain owner and local support for the re-use of the property in the respective community. Owner support is necessary because it’s the first step to ensuring the preservation process begins. It is PAWV’s goal to encourage owners to turn these properties into viable contributors to WV’s economy. Properties that were formerly on the endangered list but have graduated to saved include the First Ward School in Elkins and the Quarrier Diner in Charleston. The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is the statewide, nonprofit dedicated to promoting historic preservation and our state’s cultural heritage.
So far in my term, I have been able to increase Facebook presence from 500 likes to almost 700. Many shows and events have been booked including a movie matinee which happened due to a partnership with other organizations, a blues concert, a first annual WV Hootenanny concert, a group of comedians, and more. Lately, every weekend has an event from October 31st to December 12th beside Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday, November 21, 2015, LOL@Alpine II Comedy Show with Jacob Hall will be the featured presentation. The show starts at 8pm and is $10 (for mature audiences).
I’ve inventoried the entire theatre, testing equipment and determining the priorities of repairs/replacements that are needed. I have also created revenue/expense spreadsheets and determined utility usage costs. Along with that, I have worked with my supervisors to re-evaluate the cost structure to rent out the theatre so that it is consistent and reasonable. Throughout my term as an AmeriCorps member I hope to help make the Alpine Theatre a go-to spot for music, arts, etc. By the end, I hope to see an event in the theatre at least once a week if not more, along with more renovations and upgrades. I want the theatre to be preserved, utilized, and kept in the hearts of the Ripley residents.
For Main Street Fairmont’s project, we were rehabilitating the Citizen Building, an 1880s commercial building and one of the oldest in downtown. The Citizen Building is not on the National Register of Historic Places but it is a contributing structure to the Downtown Fairmont Historic District. In addition, funding for our project came from the Natural Capital Investment Fund, a federal grant program under the USDA. For this reason, we had to undertake a section 106 Review.
Our review process was pretty straightforward.
First we had to define the “Area of Potential Effects” or note the historic structures that would be impacted by the project. We were making direct changes to a historic building, so our APE was limited to the building itself. In larger projects, the APE could include the potential for damage by blasting for a road, or having the view from a historic structure or landscape interrupted by a pipeline.
The second step is to gather documentation for our project. For us, this included submitting our proposed changes to the Citizen Building. For a non-rehabilitation project, it might be new construction plans or the plan for a highway. In addition we submitted a letter from the local Historic Review Commission, as evidence that our changes would not impact the historic character or integrity of the building.
Our review project was relatively simple, but there can be a whole host of actions taken for larger projects including surveys for potentially historic buildings and public hearings for how to diminish impacts. Ultimately a deal for saving a historic place could be reached an Memorandum of Agreement between, but this is not always the case. For more information about what is required for a Section 106 Review please visit (http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/review.html) and for more information about the Section 106 Process in general please check out this handy guide published by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (http://www.achp.gov/docs/CitizenGuide.pdf)
By Rachael, AmeriCorps VISTA
The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival in downtown Fairmont is held the second Saturday in December each year to celebrate the Italian Christmas Eve tradition. Located on Monroe Street in historic downtown Fairmont, the popular street fair dedicated to preserving Italian-American culinary and cultural traditions will be open from 11 am to 6 pm. Traditional Italian foods, live music, a cooking school, a street market, and plenty of warm, dry seating are all awaiting attendees. The festival, organized by Main Street Fairmont, continues to grow each year – but the Italian authenticity and sense of community remains. This one-day event is a lovely way to get ready for the holidays – featuring authentic Italian cuisine, shopping, music, cooking demos, and a street market.
A unique feature of the festival is the live cooking demo presented each year by the Festival Cucina cooking school. The cooking school teaches participants step-by-step to prepare a variety of old and new recipes they can serve at home on Christmas Eve. The recipes change each year so that participants can enjoy a new tradition to take home.
Local bands, dancers, and singers will perform a unique combination of Italian and Christmas music. Local crafters will showcase the best of their Italian roots and Appalachian heritage. Seating and tables will be located in the former firehouse on Monroe Street and in various locations under shelter to keep visitors warm.
After the festival, head over to Morris Park and check out Festival of the Lights. This annual holiday event costs $10 per car and offers 1.3 miles of animated Christmas displays.
The Marion County community invites people to share its Italian heritage at the Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival on Dec. 12.
For more information, visit the Main Street Fairmont webpage at http://mainstreetfairmont.org/ and at http://threecitieswv.com/2015/10/30/feast-of-the-seven-fishes-festival/.
The Preservation Alliance of WV is postponing the due date for nominations for the 2016 WV Endangered Properties List. The original due date was scheduled for November 15, 2015. As we are re-working our annual schedule of events, we plan to have the nominations due sometime this winter with the announcement occurring this spring. Check back for more information. For questions, contact Lynn Stasick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After her retirement from FSU in 1997, Joann became a dedicated preservationist of Marion County. One of her first forays into historic preservation was the establishment of the Fairmont Historic Landmarks Commission. From there, she led the charge to nominate Fairmont’s Woodlawn Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps her greatest achievement was saving the Marion County Jail from demolition. With nothing more than grit, determination, and hard work, she fought tirelessly to protect this building which is now curated as a part of the Marion County Museum and Historical Society.
Joann continues to impress Marion County residents with her dramatic portrayals of Aunt Sukey, also known as the witch of Rivesville. She also brought Fairmont founder Boaz Fleming and the first governor of the restored state of Virginia, Francis Pierpont to the forefront of Marion County’s consciousness. She is a tireless researcher and writer who continuously contributes articles and opinion pieces to our local newspapers. She continues to educate West Virginians daily and brings a dose of wisdom and a ready smile wherever she goes.
On August 22, I attended a meeting between alumni and administration of Salem International University (SIU) to discuss the possibility of preserving the old Administration Building. The Administration Building was built in 1910 in the Collegiate Gothic style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Salem International University president, Dan Nelant, opened the day by discussing the current status and future goals of the university. He related that the university’s stance on the old Administration Building is that while they do not want to see the building demolished, they do not have a current use for it. They cannot direct any resources to preserving the building due to the needs of the current students and programs. Next, local architectural firm, WYK Associates, Inc., presented a condition and prognosis report of the Administration Building. James Swiger, WYK President, voiced concern over the building’s basement, theater balcony, and roof, and estimated the building’s restoration costs to be $3-4 million. Many in the room thought demolition might be the better option after listening to WYK’s assessment. People suggested using the building’s bricks to create a memorial park on the site.
After the campus walking tour and lunch, everyone reconvened for a brainstorming session about possibilities for the Administration Building. I took advantage of this time to explain the economic benefits of historic preservation to the group. I also recommended that the SIU administration have a historic building assessment done before any major decisions were made, and I suggested that it could be mothballed for added security and stabilization. I provided a set of handouts on the issues I discussed so that the alumni and administration could do further research. Additionally during the afternoon session, suggestions were made for the future use of the building. A popular idea was an emergency/urgent care clinic for Salem that could potentially staffed by SIU nursing students. Another idea thrown around was transferring ownership of the Administration Building to the Salem University Foundation or a different nonprofit to handle the preservation of the building. Overall, the discussion gradually moved away from demolition as a solution, and another meeting has been scheduled for October between SIU administration and alumni to continue the conversation.
The meeting was a good first step regarding the fate of SIU’s old Administration Building. Demolition is off the table for now. It’s up to the greater community of Salem and SIU alumni to continue the dialog and think positively on the possibilities for the building’s use.
After almost ten years of tireless fundraising, Friends of Happy Retreat acquired the property and have protected the site from residential development. Like many preservation projects, this was made possible through effective partnering, as well as generous donations. Last December, the City of Charles Town and Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to work together to purchase the 12.2-acre property. The City agreed to purchase 10 acres of land, which it will include in a planned linear park along Evitts Run in Charles Town’s West End. Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to purchase the house, historic outbuildings, and the 2.2 acres of remaining land. The Happy Retreat grounds will also connect to existing City of Charles Town park and recreational lands, as part of an overall Charles Town initiative to revitalize the community’s west end.
We are celebrating this acquisition today but please remember that funds are still needed to preserve and re-use the property for an educational facility.
News and Notes
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive e-news updates on historic preservation news and events in West Virginia.