“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 email@example.com 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:
Preservation Alliance of West has begun to implement a new program entitled the Buildings At Risk Register featuring historic buildings in West Virginia facing risk of being demolished from neglect, vandalism, owner seeking demolition, or environmental factors. The Creel (or Cain) House in St Marys, Pleasants County, and Top O Rock in Charleston, Kanawha County were approved for this listing in March 2015. The Creel House is being listed after the owner filed a demolition permit, and Top O Rock is listed to highlight an adaptive re-use design competition for the severely vandalized Modernist structure.
The new Buildings At Risk Register will be used 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 alliance launched this program in February and has received multiple submissions in only a few weeks. 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. For a full list of sites on the register, visit https://preservationallliancewv.wordpress.com/b-a-r-r/sites-on-the-buildings-at-risk-register/. Learn more at http://www.pawv.org or by calling 304-345-6005.
Every hand helps. This Saturday, March 28th, 2015, lend us your hand in preserving our nation’s hallowed ground.Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation, in coordination with the Civil War Trust, will be leading a community-wide cleanup of the Rich Mountain Battlefield. Tools and water will be provided. Meet on the mountain at 10 am.
We hope to see you there!
For more information on Park Day nationwide: http://www.civilwar.org/aboutus/news/news-releases/2015-news/national-park-day-event-2015.html
The Downtown Beckley Business Association will host a tax credit workshop on March 26, the first in a series of economic development programs designed to help downtown property owners prepare for a possible investment by West Virginia University.
Jennifer Brennan, a tax credit coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office, will advise property owners in the downtown historic district on how best to manage the pursuit of tax credits, which can offset up to 30 percent of the cost of renovations.
Jim Chambers, a property owner and spokesman for the association, said investors in the downtown are increasingly excited about the availability of funding and support for development.
“Property owners are beginning to have a clear vision of the value of being in a historic district, especially in light of the possible investment from WVU,” Chambers said.
“New staircases, elevators, fire escapes — these are the kinds of construction incentives we’ll need to make the best use of our buildings, and the funding is available, thanks to our location in a national historic district.”
Chambers said that only property owners in national historic districts, or those who own nationally historic properties, are eligible for the credit. Ten percent of the credit is managed through the state government; 20 percent is managed through the federal, he said.
The state also offers grants for the restoration, rehabilitation, and repair of historic properties, he said, and the association will soon also present a program on grants.
According to the National Park Service, the tax credits can be used to help cover the cost of the repair or installation of walls, doors, stairs, floors, windows, ceilings, chimneys, escalators, elevators, partitions, plumbing, fire escapes, electrical wiring, sprinkler systems, heating and central air conditioning systems and other components related to the operation and maintenance of properties.
Chambers said an architect will address the meeting of the association on March 9 to help advise property owners on the adaption of their buildings for activities associated with the university.
In an interview earlier this month with the Charleston Gazette, Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for legal, government and entrepreneurial engagement, said that the university expected to complete its purchased of the former Mountain State University campus in downtown Beckley this month.
Chambers said the purchase would make WVU one of the largest landowners in the Beckley Courthouse Square National Historic District.
The tax credit meeting has been scheduled for 5 :15 p.m. at the Tickity Boo Mercantile at 337 Neville Street. The meeting will be free and open to the public. For more information on the meeting or the association, contact Jim Chambers at 304-573-4332 or David Sibray at 304-575-7390.
For more information on tax incentives for historic properties, visit: http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm
The Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 toward the restoration of the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion continues to move forward. As of Monday, March 16, 2015, more than 70 individual backers, champions all, have pledged nearly half of the goal. While the fund raising is moving forward, time is getting short since the campaign ends at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.
Chair of the Friends of the Blue, Alex McLaughlin said, “We all have this great fascination, desire and belief that the Blue is worth saving, but the stabilization and restoration of the Blue is not automatic. The Blue will not stabilize itself or restore itself. Only we can do that through our donations and efforts to get others to contribute.”
One person who has made a significant effort is Karen Lee McClung. She has stepped up to help the cause by creating a beautiful watercolor rendering of the Blue. A print of her watercolor is available for a pledge at the $75 level and at the $100 level a backer will receive a small pin representation of the Blue and a print and 5 note cards featuring McClung’s work.
McLaughlin said, “Let this be our inspiration to walk the extra mile to turn our fascination, desire and belief that saving the Blue is worthwhile into a reality. We are the Champions of the Blue and we can make this happen.”
Everyone is encouraged to support the Blue by going to
and making a pledge using a credit card.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding mechanism which uses the reach of the internet to give donors a safe way to back a project. It is an all-or-nothing approach where the project receives no funds if the goal is not met. Donors “pledge” using their credit card and the amount is only deducted if the full amount of the goal is pledged.
Because the Greenbrier Historical Society is a 501 c 3 organization, pledges are deductible from federal taxes in accordance with the law.
We GROw, Inc. (Winding Gulf Restoration Organization), the non-profit organization for the Helen community of Raleigh County, is in the process of obtaining a historic property. An apartment building dating to the 1920’s represents Helen’s role in the heyday of coal mining. Helen remains one of the last surviving intact coal communities of the Winding Gulf Coalfield. The apartment building is a historic staple of the community, and once restored it can potentially be an important resource for community and the public. Helen is situated along the Coal Heritage Highway – a project of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.
On April 11th volunteers will come together to clean the building of debris. Volunteers will also help to architecturally mothball the structure to protect it from vandalism and the weather. The Planned activities will make a big impact on the community by preventing vandalism and improving its visual appearance. The project is a collaboration of We GROw, The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), National Coal Heritage Area Authority, The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, The Raleigh County Commission, and The Raleigh County Office – West Virginia State University Extension Service
We GROw, a fully registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2004 and has accomplished many positive outcomes in the community; including development of a park and the installation of a Coal Miner’s Memorial. Cleaning and boarding up this building is their next improvement effort. You can find more information about WeGROw on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WeGROwWV .
Two Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps (PAWV) members Tiffany Rakotz and Nicole Marrocco have been working to organize volunteers and logistics for the project. To learn more about The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia visit their website at http://www.pawv.org/
To volunteer or ask questions please contact Preserve WV AmeriCorps Member Tiffany Rakotz at (734) 787-6784 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Plans call for returning the first floor storefront to its original design, which included large display windows and transom windows, Birchfield said, and approaching the treatment of a side wall left exposed after a fire destroyed a neighboring building in 2003.
“We’re really excited about how dramatic but affordable the restoration will be,” she said.
“Grants and tax credits for historic properties offset the cost, but the cost of peeling off the later-built facade and fixing back the original isn’t exorbitant.”
“We know from restoration work we’ve experienced in Lewisburg’s historic district that there’s a good reason to restore: it’s efficient and it’s beautiful.”
Birchfield said she hopes to submit the plan to the Beckley Historic Landmarks Commission as soon as the state has approved funding.
Owners of historic properties in national historic districts in West Virginia are eligible for grants and tax credits of up to 30 percent for the restoration of their buildings to U.S. Department of the Interior standards.
A founding member of the Downtown Beckley Business Association, Birchfield said she encourages the city to continue to strengthen and enforce its architectural review process, which she says secures her investment in the national historic district.
Birchfield is one of several property owners now pursuing grants and tax credits to support restoration in the district, according to Dave Sibray, a spokesmen for the business association.
“We’re working with two other investors in the district who plan to invest in restoration this year,” Sibray said.
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