A bill to designate the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 3. HR 693 was introduced by Congressman David McKinley (WV-1) with co-sponsorship from Congressmen Evan Jenkins (WV-3), Alex Mooney (WV-2) and John Delaney (MD-6). The area is made up of 18 counties in the Appalachian highlands that reach into all three West Virginia districts and western Maryland.
Designation as a National Heritage Area will bring recognition of the national significance of the area, marketing and technical assistance from the National Park Service, and potential matching funds for Heritage Area local projects. There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas across the country, each designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. National Heritage Areas provide a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development.
“West Virginia’s abundant natural resources include its scenic landscapes, forests, touring areas, historic sites, and fishing and hunting spaces,” said Congressman McKinley. “The Heritage Area designation will recognize these unique places while ensuring the local community has control and safe and productive use can continue. This legislation addresses the concerns of many in West Virginia and throughout the region and we will continue to build support for it.”
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area has been working for more than twelve years to recognize, improve, and promote the forest heritage of the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland. “Our accomplishments include wide-ranging partnerships, conservation improvements, heritage tourism development, and interpretation about our forest heritage,” said Phyllis Baxter, Executive Director. “We are thrilled that our Congressmen sponsored this bill to bring national recognition of our forest heritage and more opportunities for our communities.”
Recent projects of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area include the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center in the Darden Mill in Elkins, featuring forest heritage displays and information about sites to visit around the region. Conservation projects have included tree plantings and efforts to control non-native invasive species. The AFHA AmeriCorps program places AmeriCorps members at sub-sponsor sites to provide direct service to improve communities and the environment. Appalachian Forest Heritage Area works only with willing partners and welcomes participation from individual, organization, and business members.
For more information see www.appalachianforest.us, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 304-636-6182.
BECKLEY, W.Va. — Engineer Chris Galitz will present a program on the maintenance of historic brick buildings at 5:15 p.m., March 12 at the Downtown Beckley Business Association’s bi-monthly meeting.
Most buildings in the city’s downtown historic district are of brick, so association members thought that engaging a masonry expert would be of particular benefit, David Sibray, an association spokesman, explained.
“Property owners in downtown are concerned about the feasibility of maintaining their buildings, especially now that they know that state and federal financing is available,” Sibray said.
A professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, Galitz has authored articles on the subject of brick maintenance and is a frequent expert witness on construction matters.
All downtown property and business owners and tenants and members of the general public are invited to attend the program, which will be held at the Tickety-Boo Mercantile at 337 Neville St. Association. Members are asking that all who attend consider donating $10 to help cover the speaker’s fee and related costs.
Sibray said upcoming programs will focus on the economics of national historic districts.
For membership information or to make arrangements to attend, please contact Jim Chambers at 304-573-4332 or David Sibray at 304-575-7390.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia today announced during a press conference at the state capitol the addition of three resources to its list of more than 40 endangered historical properties in West Virginia.
A farmhouse in Mount Nebo, a service station in Fayettevillle, and the entire national historic district in Beckley have been designated as endangered by the alliance, according to its executive director, Danielle LaPresta.
Disclosed every February since 2009, the list has become one of the organization’s most useful tools and has allowed it to build interest in the rescue of threatened landmarks and landscapes. Properties that make the list qualify for assistance through the alliance.
LaPresta said this year’s announcement is noteworthy in that it includes a multi-property national historic district.
LaPresta said the organization is considering how it will provide assistance to property owners in Beckley as the endangered resource is so large. Typically the resource is smaller, as is the case with the former Esso station at Fayetteville, in Fayette County, and a farm near Mount Nebo, in Nicholas County.
The former service station on W.Va. 16 was built in 1945 and operated through the late 1990s. In 2014, the current owners purchased the station with the intent to renovate it and pursue a tenant to operate a shop or restaurant. During the period between the closing and sale, the station was neglected. Its leaky, failing roof could collapse from the weight of snow and water damage within has caused mold and white rot issues, LaPresta said.
“The owners are passionate about rehabilitating this property, but they have little experience with preservation,” she said, “so we’ll help provide the guidance they need to save the site before it deteriorates beyond a point of salvage.”
The Old White House, near Mount Nebo, is a two-story log structure covered in clapboard and built in about 1845 by Matthew McClung on land given to him by his grandfather William McClung, a settler who claimed nearly 100,000 acres on the Gauley River. The farm has been in the McClung and McMillion families since. For the past 30 years, it sat vacant and suffered from vandalism and from water damage from a leaking roof, LaPresta said.
“The owners are in the process of passing ownership to their grandson, who is passionate about restoring the property and will implement a management policy so that it may serve as a community resource,” she said.
After being nominated by individuals and organizations, properties which have been added to the alliance’s list are selected through a competitive application process based on imminent danger, on local support for their reuse, and on their eligibility for or listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The organization’s field services representative, Lynn Stasick, works with local residents rallying to save and repurpose these endangered sites, providing advocacy, capacity building, and preservation assistance such as structural needs assessments.
Endangered properties that are not immediately eligible for the list may be eligible for the alliance’s new Buildings-At-Risk Register program. These properties are not immediately eligible for technical services, but their listing may be used as a means to leverage support and may be added at any time of year. Inclusion on the register may also be the first step on the approach to the endangered properties list.
Current endangered properties in West Virginia may be found of the Preservation Alliance’s website.
Citizens who are interested in assisting with preservation projects may contact the alliance at email@example.com. Visit www.pawv.org for preservation updates, for more information about each of the endangered properties, or to download a nomination form for next year’s endangered properties list.
The Purple Fiddle found its home in 2001 on Front Street in what was formerly the Depollo Building. Joseph DePollo opened his general store on Front Street in 1903. The present building was constructed in 1915-16 and the family of 10 lived on the upper floors. The store functioned as a gathering place for miners on the way to and from work. The DePollo store still features many of its original features, inside and out, including the counters, shelves, ceiling and storefronts. The Purple Fiddle continues to serve as a gathering place for locals and visitors today. The owners consider the people the best attribute of the Fiddle, writing, “What is cultivated here is heart-warming and very much in the spirit of longtime Depollo Store owner, Mr. John DePollo, and his impromptu social gatherings. Its is more than just a place to meet and greet, it has become the heart of an amazing community, where tender and creative souls gather to nurture powerful ideas and build surprising futures.”
The Purple Fiddle has drawn many talented groups over the years, including the now world-famous Avett Brothers. Other up-and-coming bands continue to put the Fiddle on their tour stops. As The Purple Fiddle continues to thrive, quality entertainment is never hard to find on the weekends in Thomas, WV.
Combine your stop at the Fiddle with near-by outdoor excursions including Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley State Park, Whitegrass Cross-Country Ski Area, and Timberline Downhill ski resort.
Learn more about the Purple Fiddle schedule: http://purplefiddle.com/.
Of that, FOHR will pay $425,000 and the City will pay $350,000. Closing on the sale will take place by the end of June. The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia included Happy Retreat on its Endangered Property List in 2010.
FOHR plans to restore the house to be used as center for culture and history. It will showcase the role George Washington and the Washington family played in the early settlement of what is now Jefferson County. The City will include the 10 acre portion it is buying in a planned linear park along Evitts Run, which flows through the west end of Charles Town. Walking trails will connect the two properties, and will include access to the gravesites of Charles Washington and his wife Mildred.
FOHR launched its fundraising campaign at the end of January. For further information, please visit http://www.happyretreat.org.
By Alex, PAWV VISTA
Construction is underway at the former Staats Hospital in Charleston’s West Side. Developer Tighe Bullock has big plans for the historic building. The former hospital has been vacant for at least ten years and is now getting a makeover. By summer of 2015, a few retail stores and even a restaurant could be moving into the Washington Street West building. Bullock repaired the roof to get it through the winter and is now working on building the store fronts. With the renovation of this “entrance gate” of West Side, Bullock hopes that the rest of the area will eventually follow suit.
By Lynn Stasick
The Neoclassical Abruzzino Mansion in Shinnston, Harrison County was constructed in 1921 for Frank and Francesca Abruzzino. The twenty-eight room structure complete with a third floor ballroom was home to the Abruzzino family until its conversion to apartments in the early 1970s. A fire in a second and third floor wing of the home in 2010 damaged a portion of the Spanish tile roof and a substantial amount of structural members rendering the home uninhabitable.
However, since the building’s 2013 inclusion in Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s Endangered Properties List, the site has seen many improvements. Structural elements damaged by the fire have been repaired, and the burned out section of roof replaced. Due to excessive amounts of mold growth, the entire forty by eighty foot basement apartment area has been gutted to the masonry walls and all offending materials taken off site. The large front porch and portico have been wrapped with a rubber membrane to prevent water intrusion into the basement area. Vents have been installed throughout the building and the entire home has been mothballed and secured. The owner’s intent is to find a new owner interested in renovating the site and utilizing it for the benefit of the community. Do you have an idea for re-using this building? Are you interested in learning more about the property? Contact PAWV at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By Lynn Stasick
Well, another year has turned the corner, and so the circles go. PAWV has been very busy since we last spoke, having conducted three days of training in October at Jackson’s Mill with sixteen incoming 2015 Preserve WV AmeriCorps members. We partnered with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmerCorps program in offering many educational sessions to a great group. If you recall, Rodney Bohner was PAWV’s 2014 AmeriCorps member. He is now working on double master’s degrees at the University of Oregon where he is doing very well. Nicole Marrocco who hails from Boston, Massachusetts is our new 2015 AmeriCorps member. Our VISTA, Alexandra Coffman is a native of Grafton, West Virginia. It is a joy to have both of them with us.
I mentioned in the last newsletter that our Executive Director, Danielle LaPresta, and I were travelling through the New River Region this past summer offering presentations on various subjects requested by community members. We also visited a number of coalfield communities including Sophia and Helen, accompanied by the project sponsors and community members. It was a wonderful learning experience. In addition, we met some very kind, preservation-minded people. I would like to offer a tip of the hat to David Rotenizer (Raleigh County Extension Agent for WV State University and PAWV board member) for organizing the project on behalf of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority.
I have continued traveling, conducting site assessments and window workshops including one at Belmont Technical College in Belmont, Ohio. This workshop explained the construction of steam devices for use in window restoration. There is also growing demand for building assessments from property stewards whose sites are not included in PAWV’s Endangered List, which is a very good thing on several levels.
Good news for the Larry Sypolt collection. We found a home for the WWII airplane identifiers. There are one-hundred-sixteen of them. In March Preservation Alliance board members transported the materials to the United States Navy Museum and Library in Washington D.C. The library was excited to receive the collection since they presently do not have a set. PAWV in action!
Well, until next time, stay well, stay busy, stay excited.
A PDF of the Development Grant Report is downloadable and can be shared with your legislators and friends.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia recently released a study that found state-appropriated Historic Preservation Development Grants revitalize West Virginia’s downtowns and encourage small business growth and sustainability across the state. The Historic Preservation Development Grant drives economic development by providing property owners with a grant award to rehabilitate historic properties. In 2014, the alliance researched the economic impact of grants and found that the Historic Preservation Development Grant generated almost $1 million in private investment in construction projects. Unfortunately, the grant has been decreased by 52% in the last three years and is no longer able to support as many or as large-scale projects, causing delays to ongoing renovations. Based on the alliance’s findings, the group is requesting the WV Legislature restore the grant budget to $563,570, the level at which it was funded in FY2013.
West Virginians are reusing historic assets at an increasing rate, revitalizing downtowns, and repurposing historic buildings — and the Historic Preservation Development Grant is a vital tool in the rehabilitation process. These historic assets are recognized through the National Register of Historic Places – the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. One of the benefits of this honorary designation is access to special grant funding and tax credits targeted at preserving and reusing historic resources. At the state government level, property owners – both private and public – can access the Historic Preservation Development Grant, which can be used for roof repair or replacement, window and door rehab, electrical updating, and more. “It is clear that the grant is good for the people and the economy of West Virginia, but until now, there has been little data to prove this assertion,” stated Danielle LaPresta, Executive Director for the Preservation Alliance. In addition to generating private investment, projects utilizing this grant are also more likely to be grassroots driven, involving volunteers and owners that are living and working in West Virginia. “The grant funds are most frequently spent in communities where other tourism and economic development activities are occurring like the West Virginia Main Street program. Improvements made possible through this funding are visible at many of West Virginia’s most iconic historical resources and downtown tourist destinations, including the Staats Building in Charleston’s West Side and Carnegie Hall in downtown Lewisburg,” LaPresta noted.
This research is released just as the WV Legislature is beginning to review the FY2016 budget. LaPresta and the alliance hope that this research will encourage legislators to restore the Historic Preservation Development Grant budget to $563,570. The alliance is encouraging West Virginians to contact their legislators and show their support for this grant program. For more information, call 304-345-6005 or email email@example.com.
FY 2012 (Main Street/OnTRAC Community*)
FY 2013 (Main Street/OnTRAC Community*)
FY2014 (Main Street/OnTRAC Community*)
FY 2015 (Main Street/OnTRAC Community*)
The EDAs in Doddridge, Ritchie, Gilmer, and Tyler Counties formed a task force and heritage area organization –North Western Heritage By-Way – to promote economic development through historic preservation and heritage tourism. A heritage area is not a national park. Heritage areas in West Virginia are frequently administered by a non-profit organization or other private corporation, but can also be managed by state government. Heritage areas are intended to encourage historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the area, including food, music, and art. The mission of North Western Heritage By-Way is to measurably improve the economy within Doddridge, Ritchie, Tyler, and Gilmer counties by developing and promoting heritage tourism, sharing our culture, and preserving historic sites and distinctive natural areas.
Like any successful historic preservation project, this partnership requires diversified funds to jumpstart the planning process. A Flex-E-Grant through the West Virginia Development Office was awarded to the Doddridge County EDA to provide financial support to implement a planning process for the development of cultural-heritage tourism. Matching funds were provided by each county to support the Flex-E-Grant. WVU Extension Service’s Rural Tourism Specialist, Doug Arbogast, with the assistance of a WVU community-based tourism planning team was contracted to facilitate a community-based tourism planning process. The project received additional support of a Preserve WV AmeriCorps member in September 2014 to assist with project activities. Matching funds were provided by each county to support the AmeriCorps member. Preserve WV AmeriCorps is a program of the Preservation Alliance of WV via grant funds from Volunteer WV and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Through the planning process, the task force and planning team identified action strategies including creating thematic itineraries/packages, developing marketing materials, engaging additional community members and external organizations, hospitality training, and site and business development. Since a comprehensive list of tourism assets in the four counties did not exist, a tourism asset inventory of the four-county region was needed in order to identify current strengths and weaknesses, gaps, and potential packages and itineraries. The WVU Extension Service created an online form so that members of the task force could submit information about individual tourism assets in the region that would be categorized and compiled into a database. The form allowed task force members to identify assets that are visitor ready and also those that are not yet visitor ready but have potential to be an attraction. Jaco Cave in Doddridge County, North Bend Rail Trail and Tunnel in Ritchie County, the Sistersville Ferry in Tyler County – these are only a handful of heritage sites identified in the area. Want to learn more about these places and visit? For more information, contact Herk Conner (Doddridge County EDA) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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