Friends of Happy Retreat announced recently that it has received a major gift to fund the purchase of Happy Retreat, the historic home of Charles Washington, younger brother of George Washington and founder of Charles Town. The donation comes from Dr. Taylor Fithian and his wife Margie. Dr. Fithian, spent his boyhood in Charles Town. His parents were Taylor and Avis Funkhouser Fithian. His grandfather was R.J. Funkhouser, who in the 1940s bought and restored Happy Retreat and three other Washington family homes in Jefferson County. Dr. Fithian and his wife live in Monterey, California, but recently bought and restored Cedar Lawn, another Washington family home near Charles Town, where they now spend much of their time. The Fithian’s gift, made in honor of the entire Fithian family, R.J. Funkhouser and the legacy of the Washington family in Jefferson County, showcases another generation of leadership that follows in the footsteps of the Washingtons and R. J. Funkhouser.
Friends of Happy Retreat was established in 2006 for the purpose of acquiring and restoring Happy Retreat as a center for culture and history for Charles Town, Jefferson County, and beyond. In December, 2014, the City of Charles Town and the non-profit Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to work together to purchase the 12 acre Happy Retreat property, owned by the Gavin family, who have been stewards of the estate for a generation. 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 two acres of remaining land. With this major milestone of acquisition reached, the Friends of Happy Retreat can progress into the effort to restore the Happy Retreat estate as a center for community events, heritage tourism, arts and culture, and scholarship. 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.
Friends of Happy Retreat launched a fundraising campaign in January co-chaired by Dr. Wallace Boston, CEO of American Public University System, and by Dr. Taylor Fithian. American Public University led the effort with a lead gift of $150,000. The campaign has now succeeded in raising over $725,000 in pledged contributions from individuals, families and supportive organizations, which will be used for the acquisition, restoration and operation of Happy Retreat. Fundraising will continue with the goal to raise an additional $1.3 million for full restoration and $150,000 for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the property. Walter Washington, president of Friends of Happy Retreat, said he is overwhelmed by the Fithians’ generosity. “We are profoundly grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Fithian for making the acquisition of Happy Retreat possible. Their extraordinary gift will allow us to go forward with our plans to make Happy Retreat a center of cultural life for Charles Town and a showpiece of our town’s important history.” He also thanked Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith and the City Council, and Dr. Boston and American Public University for helping to make the purchase possible. “The City’s decision to take part in this project, with Mayor Smith’s leadership, was a game changer. It would not have worked without the City’s participation,” Washington said. “Dr. Wally Boston has stepped forward many times over the years to help our community move forward. American Public University’s lead gift of $150,000 was a crucial vote of confidence to get our fundraising campaign underway, which has resulted in other valued supporters and organizations making their own contributions. We are very grateful for all that Dr. Fithian and Dr. Boston have done for us in leading this exciting Happy Retreat campaign.” Washington also thanked the National Trust for Historic Preservation which has worked closely with Friends of Happy Retreat since it began in 2006. “The Trust has provided us invaluable advice and support over the years, and especially during our current fundraising campaign to save this American treasure,” he said. “I also want to give special thanks and recognition to the Gavin family who have been so wonderful to work with over the years,” Washington said. “Without the enthusiasm and patience of Bill and Mary Gavin and their family, this could never have happened.” “Finally, on behalf of the Board of Friends of Happy Retreat, I want to thank all of the wonderful friends and supporters here in the community and beyond who have had faith in us,” Washington said. “Without their support over the last 9 years, we could not have gotten to where we are today. For more information about historic Happy Retreat and the effort underway to restore it as a community center, see http://happyretreat.org/donate.html, or contact Walter Washington at 304.725.8832.
Preservation Alliance of WV is currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Preserve WV AmeriCorps program year.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is a statewide program administered by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), the statewide nonprofit organization promoting historic preservation in the Mountain State. The purpose of the Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is to implement historic preservation and heritage tourism projects throughout West Virginia by way of historic resource re-use, improvement, development, and interpretation. Members’ service will focus on economic development through historic resource improvement, nonprofit organizational capacity building, heritage tourism development, historic preservation, and environmental stewardship. Volunteer management and community engagement are other important facets of the program.
Preserve WV AmeriCorps members will be placed with an individual site throughout the state of West Virginia. Program start date is August 31, 2015. All members are expected to serve for 11 ½ to 12 months with full-time members serving 1750 hours and half-time members serving 950 hours.
AmeriCorps site locations include Beckley, Morgantown, Wheeling, Fairmont, Ripley, Shepherdstown, and more. For a full list of sites and position descriptions, email email@example.com.
To begin the application process, either send your:
Resume, cover letter, and three references with contact information, emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, including which interest areas appeal to you and why you think this AmeriCorps position would be a good fit for you. Please give us multiple ways to contact you, especially if your email access is not reliable.
Complete the AmeriCorps application, submitted to PAWV through http://www.americorps.gov web site. (http://www.americorps.gov/for_individuals/ready/index.asp) Alternatively, you can do the AmeriCorps application later if you are selected for interview. A cover letter must be emailed directly to email@example.com as well.
The structure is recognized as the birthplace of the state of West Virginia because the constitutional conventions that led to the formation of the 35th state took place in this building. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation given to a structure. The building is now operated and maintained by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation.
Located in downtown Wheeling, the three-story structure was built to be the federal custom house for the Western District of Virginia. The building also housed the post office and the federal district court.
Construction began in September 1856, and the building opened in April 1859. On June 13, 1861, the Second Wheeling Convention began in the federal courtroom on the third story of the Custom House. This convention declared the Confederate state government in Richmond illegal; created a Reorganized Government of Virginia loyal to the United States; elected Francis Harrison Pierpont governor of Virginia; and called for the western counties to be formed into a new state. The legislature of the ReorganizedGovernment met in the courtroom from July 1861 to June 1863, and the constitutional convention for the new state met there in late 1861 to early 1862. Governor Pierpont and other state officials used offices on the second floor of the Custom House from June 1861 to early 1864. Thus the Wheeling Custom House served as the capitol building for Reorganized Virginia, although it was never the capitol of West Virginia.
The Custom House remained a federal building until 1907, when a new federal building was completed. An insurance company purchased the structure and over time made many changes. An addition was built on the south end and a fourth floor was added. The variety of businesses located in the building while it was in private hands include a bank, liquor store, night club, and offices for the Hazel Atlas Glass Company.
In 1964, the state purchased the building and leased it to the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation for a dollar a year. The foundation raised funds to restore the public areas to their 1860 appearance. Original drawings from the National Archives were used to ensure the accuracy of the restoration work. In 1979, West Virginia Independence Hall was opened as a museum administered by the West Virginia Department (now Division) of Culture and History. Independence Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Each year West Virginia Day is celebrated on June 20th with reenactments, music, speeches, and special programs.
http://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1068 (By Gerry Reilly; May 06, 2013)
By James, Preserve WV AmeriCorps serving at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum
Recently, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum received a donation from local resident Jim Schmitt that sparked wonder and imagination into Shepherdstown’s past. The donation was of two baseball gloves and a jersey that read “Red Sox” on the front. These were left over treasures of the Shepherdstown Red Sox, a black baseball team that operated from the 1930’s until the late 1960’s. The donation not only impressed and awed the members of HSC, but also pointed out a dire problem facing the museum. While the museum has operated since the 1970’s and the various hands that have run it did their best to represent the history of Shepherdstown as a whole, there was no real representation of the African American community in the museum.
The baseball team items seemed like a perfect opportunity to address this problem head on and started a wave of interest and activity in order to bring this important part of the history into the museum. To do this initial research on the baseball team was done through pulling out an article that was published in 1986 that summarized the history of the team. But interestingly enough there were people living today who could remember the Red Sox playing in Shepherdstown. Since the ’86 article was the only bit of history found at the time, a project emerged in order to get the stories of the black community and the baseball team’s role in it, oral histories.
HSC decided to partner with Shepherd University’s Keith Alexander who ran an oral history class at Shepherd and allow the students to contact these people to hear their stories and memories. Finding members of the community who were old enough to remember the Red Sox and willing to participate was challenging for the students who decided to then expand their search to the African American community in Jefferson County. The oral histories were presented at a HSC event this past month and the histories will soon be passed over to the university archives, HSC archives, and the Jefferson County Historical Society archives.
In a recent development, two former players of the Red Sox agreed to step forward and be interviewed for the project. Reverend Charles Hunter and Clarence Branson had both played on the Red Sox in the 1960’s and were born and raised in Shepherdstown. In an hour and half interview they recounted stories of playing for the team, the sense of community felt in the town, and the discrimination they had experienced in their lifetimes. The stories were very helpful and incredibly interesting. Both men also still have their uniforms from playing and are willing to lend them to HSC for use in their display. The African American and Shepherdstown Red Sox display is still likely to be ready several months in the future, a lot of the initial research has been made possible by the truly amazing stories told through the oral history project.
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. To learn more about AmeriCorps see www.americorps.gov. The PreserveWV AmeriCorps program is sponsored by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service: www.volunteerwv.org/
This AmeriCorps program is funded in part by a grant from Volunteer WV, the State’s Commission for National and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteer WV encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their community.
A documentary “The Preservation and Restoration of Helen Apartments,” directed and produced by Tyler Carden and Brian Jarrell (students in the Fine Arts Department at Liberty High School in Raleigh County, WV), is now available for viewing.
Video footage was collected April 10-11, 2015 during the clean-up and mothballing activities of the historic Helen Apartment Building organized with WeGROW: Winding Gulf Restoration Organization. The students completed the film in three weeks.
The documentary debuted May 13th during a commission meeting of Volunteer West Virginia: The State Commission on Community and National Service. Our thanks are extended to Jeremy Rodriquez, chairman, and the students of the Fine Arts Department at Liberty High School and the many volunteers and supporters of the cleanup and mothballing project.
The video is available on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia YouTube Channel. Unused B-Roll footage from the project may be used for additional productions in the future – stay tuned!
$3 Million in Short-Term Planning Assistance Available to Coal-impacted Communities under the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) InitiativeThe U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced the availability of $3 million in planning assistance to communities impacted, or which may be impacted, by contractions in the coal economy. These funds are made available as part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a new interagency effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.
Economic changes often result in job loss and other concrete negative impacts, but can also generate mounting concerns about perceptions of uncertainty and risk in the regional economy. One of the first critical steps that communities need to take is to build a cohesive strategy for how they will adapt to these changes. Effective planning creates a road map which practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders can use to identify and take the actionable steps necessary to realize their desired economic vision. These new planning funds will support the bottom-up strategies developed by the local communities.
Successful applications will enable affected communities to develop detailed strategies to: diversify their economies, create jobs in new or existing industries, attract new sources of job-creating investment, and/or how to provide a range of workforce services that result in industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.
Successful applications may also include projects that explore the feasibility of specific economic development diversification projects, entrepreneurship promotion, or assessments to provide community stakeholders key asset and impact information from which to conduct future strategic planning.
Funding will be available until expended or until September 30, 2015.
To apply for this funding, please follow instructions included within the Planning and Local Technical Assistance FFO and the addendum.
For additional information, please contact your EDA state representative.
The Mt. Wood Cemetery Restoration Project is participating in the Amazing Raise Ohio Valley, a 24-hour online giving challenge sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. This giving day will take place TODAY, Tuesday, May 5, and we really hope you will participate! The minimum gift is only $10!! The money you donate goes to supporting this important project – like hiring monument companies to reset the large obelisks that have fallen, buying supplies for our monthly volunteer workdays, and going forward, restoring the 10 mausoleums that are found within the cemetery. You can make your donation here: https://www.giveov.org//#npo/wheeling-national-heritage-area
This past year has been a great one for this old cemetery located off National Road and overlooking the city of Wheeling. It is the City’s oldest cemetery and has been a victim to its topography (gravity) and heavily vandalized in years past. We have had a very successful past two years working in the cemetery — resetting 11 large obelisks, leveling and resetting over 100 smaller monuments and gravestones and cleaning hundreds more!
But, we still need your help! There are still hundreds of gravestones that need our attention! This work can only continue through the generosity of donors like you!!!
May 10th, 2015 is the 107th celebration on Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia.
Since 1908, a celebration for mothers has taken place at the Andrews Methodist Church, now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in the town of Grafton, West Virginia. This historic building has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Story of Mother’s Day:
On May 1, 1864, in the little village of Webster, four miles south of Grafton, West Virginia, Granville and Ann Jarvis welcomed their daughter, Anna Jarvis, into the world. The Grafton area was an important railroad center during the Civil War and Mrs. Jarvis’ birthplace had served as a temporary headquarters for Gen. McClellan in 1861.
During the war years, Ann Jarvis worked very hard to provide nursing care and promote better sanitation, which helped save thousands of lives on both sides of the conflict. After the war, she continued her work to help heal the wounds of the war years and bring families and communities together again. Young Anna received her basic education in the public schools of Grafton and attended Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.
In 1902, after the death of Granville Jarvis, the family moved to Philadelphia. It was there that Ann Jarvis passed away on May 9, 1905. Two years later, in 1907, on the second Sunday in May, Anna invited several friends to her home in Philadelphia, in commemoration of her mother’s life. On this occasion, she announced her idea – a day of national celebration in honor of mothers – a Mother’s Day.
The following spring, Anna wrote to the Superintendent of Andrews Methodist Church Sunday School in Grafton, suggesting that the church in which her mother had taught classes for twenty years, celebrate a Mother’s Day in her honor. The idea appealed to Mr. Loar and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day service was held in the church. Anna established the white carnation as the symbol of the celebration and developed other text and visual tools in honor of the event. It was Anna who coined the term, “Mother’s Day Association”, used during the period she was developing her concept of what Mother’s Day should be. Subsequently, West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock issued the first Mother’s Day proclamation on April 26, 1910. In 1912, at the General methodist Conference in Minneapolis, MN, Anna was recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day. A joint resolution in the United States Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The official resolution was approved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
For more information, see: http://www.mothersdayshrine.com/the-founding-of-mothers-day/
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.
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