The area of Blue Sulphur where the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion is located is also the birthplace of “Traveller” the famous war horse of General Robert E Lee. These days, Traveller would not be the only one kicking up his heels. The Friends of the Blue Committee of the Greenbrier Historical Society is pretty excited too.
The Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 is kicking up its heels. As of Monday, March 9, 2015, forty-eight individual backers, champions all, have pledged more than $6000 toward the effort.
Chair of the Friends of the Blue Committee, Alex Mclaughlin said, “Folks, we are so gratified and appreciative of the overwhelming support for our Kickstarter campaign. With about 18 days left, we have raised over $6000 of the needed $25,000 and almost $10,000 in total contributions. Now, we need about 600 new ‘Champions for the Blue’ to donate at least $25 to meet our goal by March 28. Every donor of $25 or more gets a neat little pin and a really huge ‘thank you’ from all those generations to come that will be able to visit the Blue”.
Everyone is encouraged to support the Blue by going to
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/693916700/restore-the-blue-sulphur-spring-pavilion 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.
McLaughlin said, “We are excited to have this little pin to give to our donors. This is the first known pin representation of the Blue and a great way to tell the world you were a part of the first official fundraising campaign for its restoration. Please contribute and spread the word. Together, we WILL Save the Blue.”
According to the competition website, the contest offers an opportunity for individuals, teams of design industry or non-industry professionals, emerging professionals, students, or community development nonprofits to explore plans that include historic preservation, adaptive and sustainable land reuse for public benefit, business or education innovation. The Top O Rock: Spirit of Reinvention design competition sponsors include WVSU Extension’s Economic Development Center, Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, and CWest Properties, LLC. Supporters include: City of Charleston, Historic Landmarks Commission, Preservation Alliance of WV, West Virginia Foundation for Architecture, US Green Building Council-WV, and Create West Virginia.
“Basically, we’re looking for bright ideas that are financially feasible,” says Sarah Halstead, the West Virginia State University sustainable economic and community development specialist who has spearheaded the drive to save the building.
“Ever since Top O Rock became prominently visible in Charleston, in the late 1960s, it has been talked about, written about in national and international publications, visited, admired, and has often been at the center controversy because of Elden’s daring vision,” Halstead explains.
The iconic residence and design studio was purchased several years ago by a private investor who has entertained several different business ideas for future use, however, like mid-century modernist structures around the world, much work is required to restore the building and bring it up to code. “Many modernist structures are facing the wrecking ball at this moment. We have a rare opportunity to work with the property owner to call for innovative ideas, including business models supporting the preservation of the building and the surrounding 13 acres of wooded land, just minutes from downtown. Yes, the building was vandalized, but the vandalism is not a deal breaker. Remember, this is a concrete, steel and glass structure. It’s tough. International experts agree that Top O Rock is a significant example of modernist architecture that should absolutely be restored,” Halstead says.
With the permission and assistance of the property owner, she has marshaled the energies of architects, students, business people and historic preservationists to save the building. “It’s surprising to many that the building has come close to destruction, but it’s actually not an unusual situation. The public is only beginning to understand the importance of modernist architecture around the world. This is a great opportunity to raise local awareness of our own architectural and cultural treasures. They define us, and our places.”
The design competition will close on May 8, 2015. Judges include Christine Madrid-French, expert member of the scientific committee on 20th Century Heritage for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and Peter Aeschbacher of Penn State Stuckeman School of Architecture. Peter is also the director of design at Penn State’s Hamer Center for Community Design. Local judges will be announced, along with additional events related to the competition.
There is a series of short talks on related subjects scheduled for Tuesdays at noon throughout the months of March and April. An online fundraising campaign is underway, offering a variety of ways individuals and organizations can support this preservation and community design effort. A virtual tour of the property will live stream on Monday, March 9, 2015 and will be archived for viewing throughout the competition. Additional information will be added to both the TopORockwv.com website and Facebook.com/TopORockwv page on an ongoing basis.
For complete information, visit the competition website, which includes a comprehensive calendar.
As Appalachian Forest Heritage Area continues to work with West Virginia Congressional delegations to seek National Heritage Area designation for Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area, they need to show widespread support. You can show your support by a support letter to AFHA, and/or by contacting your Congressional offices directly.
Contact Your Representatives
Directly contact your representatives. Call their DC office and leave a message, or email through their web site contact. You can also contact their in-state staff and share this message as well.
Contact your Congressman to thank them for their sponsorship of HR 693 to designate Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area, and encourage them to also support HR 581 the National Heritage Area Program bill.
Congressman David McKinley, WV 1st https://mckinleyforms.house.gov/email-me 202-225-4172
Congressman Alex Mooney, WV 2nd https://mooney.house.gov/contact 202-225-2711
Congressman Evan Jenkins, WV 3rd https://evanjenkins.house.gov/contact (202) 225-3452
Congressman John Delaney, MD 6th District http://delaney.house.gov/contact/email-me 202-225-2721
Contact your Senator’s office to thank them for their support, and encourage them to again sponsor a Senate bill to designate Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area. Encourage them to also support a bill to establish a National Heritage Area Program.
Sen. Joe Manchin http://www.manchin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 202-224-3954
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito http://www.capito.senate.gov/content/contact-shelley 202-224-6472
Sen. Ben Cardin http://www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/ 202-224-4524
Sen. Barbara Mikulski http://www.mikulski.senate.gov/contact/ 202-224-4654
Please drop an email to email@example.com to let us know the contacts you’ve made, and if you get a response.
Write AFHA Support Letter
You or your organization can show your support by sending a support letter or resolution directly to AFHA. Then we can share it with our representatives to show our widespread support. If you previously wrote a letter, you can write a new one that indicates renewed support, or discusses progress that AFHA has made since our initial round of letters in 2004 – 2006. We also are seeking letters that support the National Heritage Area Program and passage of a NHA Program Bill. Success with this bill will make passage of the AFNHA bill much more likely. For general support letter or resolution, please include the following sentiments: I/we support National Heritage Area designation for the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area
Also acceptable, although not as strong a statement, is: I/we support national recognition of the significance of our forest region (or of our forest heritage assets.)
Address it to: Appalachian Forest Heritage Area Board, PO Box 1206, Elkins WV 26241
If you email it, pdf is preferred with an original signature.
Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter content, samples, talking points:
The letter can talk about your own organization if you want, and how AFHA has benefited or will benefit your work. It can include ways you expect to be involved or support AFHA. Some additional talking points follow – just pick what applies to you, and feel free to rephrase it if you want. The letter can be short (preferably keep to one page) – but best in your own words. It doesn’t matter so much what you say, but more that fact that you have made the effort to write.
Talking Points – AFHA:
Talking Points – NHA Program Bill:
Sample organizational letters can be found at the AFHA website.
Sample organization letter
ys you expect to be involved or support AFHA. Some additional talking points follow – just pick what applies to you, and feel free to rephrase it if you want. The letter can be short (preferably keep to one page) – but best in your own words. It doesn’t matter so much what you say, but more that fact that you have made the effort to write.
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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com for more information.
News and Notes
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive e-news updates on historic preservation news and events in West Virginia.