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.
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.
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