Applications are now being accepted for a second round of historic preservation development grants through the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Approximately $200,000 will be available for grant awards, contingent upon appropriation of funds from the West Virginia Legislature or the U.S. Congress. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 10, 2014.
Eligible projects include the restoration, rehabilitation or archaeological development of historic sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Properties owned by church organizations or used exclusively for religious purposes are not eligible for funding. Governmental properties that are not accessible to the public are not eligible.
A complete application package, including funding priorities, allowable activities and selection criteria, is available from the SHPO grants staff or from the division’s website athttp://www.wvculture.org/shpo/GrantManual/development.html. For more information about historic preservation grant programs, contact Pamela Brooks, grants coordinator, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 720.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
By Cynthia McCloud
Republished with permission from the State Journal, http://www.statejournal.com
A project that would turn the historic Arthurdale High School, seen in a recent PBS documentary titled “The Roosevelts,” into 12 apartments has been flushed.
The developer, AU Associates of Lexington, Kentucky, has discarded its plans after it couldn’t arrange a system to treat and discharge sewage.
Holly Wiedemann, founder and president of AU Associates, said in 25 years of renovating old public buildings, she has never had a project awarded she didn’t complete. AU has completed other projects in West Virginia, including turning the historic First Ward School in Elkins into a low-income senior community apartment complex and turning Clendenin Middle School into 18 units of senior housing and a health care clinic.
‘A big financial hit’
“All we wanted to do was preserve what we felt was a remarkable icon,” Wiedemann said. “It just broke my heart, quite frankly, not to mention it was a very horrific blow to me financially.
“We have lost a significant amount of money since we had to pay for architectural plans, engineering, extensive … testing … it has already passed six figures.”
To pay for the renovation, AU had lined up HOME funds via the W.Va. Housing Development Fund that had to be expended by Nov. 25, 2015, plus federal and state historic tax credits purchased by Clear Mountain Bank, and construction lending from Clear Mountain. AU has since turned back the funds, Wiedemann said.
Arthurdale is the first of 100 New Deal planned subsistence homestead communities founded by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression to improve the quality of life of impoverished Americans.
Arthurdale Heritage Inc., the nonprofit organization charged with preserving and promoting the properties, had been counting on the $29,000 it would receive from selling the building to AU.
“This was a big financial hit to us,” said Jeanne Goodman, AHI executive director. “We have been counting on this money since May, since the problems seemed to be temporary. We are always hard up for money since we have no steady income but plenty of steady bills.
“This would have made getting through the winter easier and given us some needed breathing room and the ability to buy a few small needed items.”
Goodman said AHI hooked up with AU after the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia added the schools to its endangered property list and she saw a newsletter item about AU’s interest in old schools.
“I feel like my spirit’s been broken,” Weidemann said. “I can’t do anymore. I certainly can’t afford to spend any more in the hopes that this could come up with different answers than I’ve already turned up. I did everything I could.”
Exhausting every possibility
The school site is not served by a public sewer system, and a pure septic tank system wouldn’t handle the volume of discharge from 12 apartments.
AU sought to treat its waste and discharge the treated water.
“We were stunned to discover the area had zero ability to perc,” Wiedemann said. “It’s a clay soil that won’t percolate water. If you dig a hole, water will just stand there.”
None of the surrounding land owned by Arthurdale Heritage Inc. and Preston County Schools would pass either. Even if the soil had passed, AU didn’t have enough land on its site to build a system large enough to accommodate all the gallons an apartment building produces in a day.
V.J. Davis, registered sanitarian at the Preston County Health Department, said when considering a septic system application, he would calculate how many square feet of drain field would need to be installed to handle the discharge from a 12-unit apartment building — an estimated 3,360 gallons a day. Plus, he said, the state requires more land — at least as much as the original drain field takes up — to be available if the system fails and a new one has to be installed.
He said there is not enough property where the old school sits on the plat to put in even one septic system large enough for 12 apartments.
AU tried to find another way.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regulations don’t allow directly discharging treated water into a stream near the property because it is seasonal. Laws also prohibit building up the land with extra dirt because drip fields have to be installed in previously undisturbed soil. It was cost-prohibitive to pump treated water to an acceptable stream, Deckers Creek, a half-mile away, Wiedemann said.
AU asked Community Presbyterian Church, which owns 14 acres across the road from the school site if they could perform a percolation test. The congregation assented and the land, which is higher in elevation, passed the test. The church asked AU to exhaust all other possibilities before asking to lease or buy its land again.
“We only would’ve needed an acre and a half,” Wiedemann said. “It would’ve been in the woods and you wouldn’t have seen anything.”
Wiedemann asked Preston County Schools if AU could pay to get its waste treated by Valley Elementary’s system or if AU could tap into Valley’s discharge pipe that leads to Deckers Creek. But Superintendent Richard Hicks said the school could not share facilities with private entities.
“Plus, we’re not sure about future expansion of our own out there and what our needs would be,” Hicks said.
David Sneed, executive director of the West Virginia School Building Authority, said his office advised Hicks not to chance the liability.
“There have been situations where school systems have had other entities tied — legally or illegally — into their sewage pipes and treatment plants,” Sneed said. “When there tends to be problems someone else causes, the school system ends up inheriting the costs.
“The county would be responsible for anything on their line if something would go wrong.”
AU went back to Community Presbyterian and the congregation voted to not sell or lease any of its land at this time.
“It is our opinion that the church was not notified soon enough to get all the information we needed to make a good decision as to how to approach the matter,” church member Lorraine Weaver said in the church’s October newsletter.
“At first, AU said they would only need one acre of land, then they said they needed one and one-half acres for the drip field,” Weaver continued to quote. “One-and-a-half acres measures to be 312-by-312 square feet. This amount would take up a very large part of the wooded area, more than we thought.”
The church contacted health department sanitarian Davis for information.
“All I said was if you do lease the property to them, they would need to have a lifetime easement for maintenance and expansion of the system if expansion was needed and we would have to have a copy of the agreement filed with the deed for the property,” Davis said. “You are giving someone permission to put a very large septic system on your property.
“A lot of people just sell the property and it’s not their headache to worry about if the system were to fail.”
Big ideas, no budget
Wiedemann pointed out that any future use of the property will encounter this septic problem.
“I just don’t see any future for it at this juncture,” she said.
Davis said the best hope for future development of the property would be if the public sewer system was extended.
“I really think public sewer is the answer if they’re wanting to turn that into apartment buildings,” he said. “Sometimes large septic systems fail.”
Reedsville Mayor James Wagner said there are no plans at this time to extend public sewer service farther into Arthurdale, about a mile away. The town is still working to complete an extension that took on 53 original customers of the old Arthurdale Sewage Association’s community septic system.
The original school buildings, which were used by Valley Elementary and Valley Junior High, closed soon after the county’s high schools consolidated into one and the middle school students were moved to a different campus in the ’90s.
AHI has owned them for about 10 years and uses them for storage.
“The school district sold them to AHI for $1,” Goodman said. “Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), I believe, got a $300,000 federal grant through Save America’s Treasures, which meant turning over ownership to Vandalia Heritage Foundation, who mothballed the buildings.
“When they finished, they returned ownership to us and there was a 50-year easement so that we would have to return the money if we didn’t keep up the buildings and try to fix them up.”
The board has had lots of ideas for the buildings over the years but no capital to make it happen.
“AHI had idealized plans to make the high school a museum adjunct where the archives and a research library would be,” Goodman said. “Turn the cafeteria building into a rental space with kitchen, and then make the third building an artists’ rental space or something similar.
“We got several small West Virginia University Brownfields grants to look for problems like asbestos and lead paint plus one to do a market study, which was pretty much what we thought for other ideas, maybe senior housing, day care, offices that draw their own traffic like insurance, etc.”
Davis agreed a retail location, which would discharge far fewer gallons, might be able to manage a septic system at the site.
But AHI has no money for renovations to move forward on its ideas.
“It doesn’t make sense to have one building fixed up next to two that are derelict,” she said. “None of the buildings have a working HVAC system.”
By Alex, PAWV VISTA
While events and adventure sports take a brief hiatus around November in the Mountain State, the beautiful hills and winding roads remain for West Virginians to enjoy. This November, take a trip down Route 219. However, don’t just drive down this route, learn about the deep, rich history in this part of the state at “Traveling 219: The Seneca Trail,” found at http://www.traveling219.com/. The project “Traveling 219” is a history and writing project following the tradition of the Federal Writers’ Project from the 1930s. Those working on the project collect stories and help put more local voices from those communities on the radio, newspapers, and the web.
This website is full of oral histories, photos, and written stories about the history along this route. It covers everything from carriage houses to black bear hunting. Read about these great buildings and locations and then proceed to visit them in person along Route 219. Take a short afternoon to see a few of the sights or a few days’ vacation exploring the whole stretch.
Those located more north in the state for whom 219 is a bit too far for a short excursion, can peruse the original 1930s documents written on onion skin paper in the West Virginia and Regional History Collection in the WVU Library. The archives of the West Virginia Federal Writers’ Project are stored here and can be view upon request. The West Virginia and Regional Historic Collection is open to the public and contains floors of archives, history books, and microfilm about the history of the state.
The Preservation Alliance of WV (PAWV) selected the Old Main project for its adaptive re-use plan that incorporates multiple uses while preserving the historic integrity of the building – including the auditorium. The Nicholas Old Main Foundation’s multi-use facility serves as a museum, event space, rental & meeting rooms, and venue for live productions. “What’s remarkable about this project is that it is cutting edge compared to other school projects in West Virginia – many of which are in a stage of infancy,” remarked PAWV Executive Director, Danielle LaPresta. “The Nicholas Old Main Foundation found an approach that worked and ran with it. It may not work for every school building, but this project shows that there are endless options for preserving and re-using historic schools. What you really need is a dedicated group of volunteers with creative minds who are willing to roll up their sleeves.”
Since 2009, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) has recognized the valuable contributions and hard work of preservationists across the state during its annual Historic Preservation Awards Banquet. Because of the dedication, wherewithal, and perseverance of grassroots groups and esteemed individuals, historic preservation in West Virginia is growing and successful. PAWV gives awards each year to those often overlooked for the work they do to make West Virginia communities such great places to live. PAWV is a statewide, grassroots nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation in the Mountain State. For more information, please visit http://www.pawv.org.
Please join us in honoring the achievements of this dedicated group of citizens. Old Main is located at 100 Old Main Drive, overlooking downtown Summersville. Call 304-872-2881 with any questions.
On the first day of the conference, I attended the Historic Gravestone Conservation Workshop at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington. Jonathan Appell, a historic stone conservator, led a group through several different hands-on techniques for cleaning gravestones and monuments; resetting and leveling leaning gravestones; and conservation, or repair, of broken gravestones. This in-depth session allowed for more than just a speaker presenting his ideas and techniques – we were able to participate and get our hands dirty. Our group cleaned four gravestones during the morning session, removing moss and lichens from the bases and focusing on making the inscriptions more visible and readable. In the afternoon, our group worked on four other gravestones. Each one presented a different challenge toward conservation and repair. We reattached a top portion of a grave marker that had been laying on the ground; we leveled a leaning gravestone; we adhered a large head stone with its base to eliminate the possibility of it falling over; and we used a tripod and hoist to lift and reset large and heavy segments of the final grave marker.
My name is Robert Wolfe and I am currently finishing my MA in public history from West Virginia University. Starting in December I will begin serving at Main Street Fairmont in Fairmont, West Virginia. Given my educational background in historic preservation and public interpretation, along with my interest in adaptive land reuse, a Main Street program is an ideal place for me to undertake a service position. Throughout my education I have had the privilege of working for a number of institutions including; George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Pendleton Historic Foundation, and the Heritage Trail Conservancy of Madison Indiana. I know my time at Main Street Fairmont will be equally as rewarding.
Since finishing my Undergraduate Degree I have been fascinated with discovering new ways to utilize our heritage. Like many people in the field of public history, I believe there is an excess of historic house museums. Too many stories competing for a limited audience is creating a strain on budgets. While it would be nice if house museums could sustain themselves on admissions alone, it simply is not feasible in the 21st century. Historic houses need to gather new audiences so that we all may retain our cultural heritage. Just because a building is old, doesn’t mean it must be a museum!
The workshop “Charetting the Jenkins House” at the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia 2014 Conference, was a natural workshop to attend. The Jenkins House (Green Bottom) is an 1825 plantation house on the Ohio River. The home, currently owned and mothballed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been meticulously restored to its appearance in 1825. The Jenkins House operated as a house museum for a time. During this period the house would host Civil War encampments and special holiday events. The Jenkins House currently awaits a new use.
The charette was a refreshing change in house museum narratives. Local historical societies typically receive the unfair stereotype of being inflexible in their beliefs. The stakeholders of the Jenkins House were interested in restoring the old museum events but also interested in expanding the scope of activities at the site. The site has an excellent view of natural wetlands and ample space for people. The natural beauty lends itself to its use as an event space. Other options discussed include a community garden, a historic gardening site, or community space for local events. As a government property, the Corps of Engineers is responsible for upkeep and bills for the Jenkins House. The Jenkins House is in an advantageous position to experiment with new uses. This gives the property an advantage, allowing the stakeholders to put more resources into developing alternative uses for the property.
Charettes are just one example of how historic preservationists can interact with the local community to preserve local heritage. The PAWV Conference allowed me to get hands on experience on the benefits and uses of charettes. Classroom experience can never equal field experience.
By Nicole, PAWV Preserve WV AmeriCorps
Hi there! My name is Nicole Marrocco, and I’m the 2014 – 2015 AmeriCorps member for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. As a newcomer to the field of historic preservation and a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, I’m very excited to dive headfirst into this experience and to call West Virginia home for the next year.
While I may be a newbie in terms of preserving and reusing historic buildings, I’m no stranger to the study and preservation of material culture. In 2010, I graduated from Boston University with a dual B.A. in Archaeology and Classical Civilizations. In my classes I developed an interest in cultural resource management and the preservation and interpretation of archaeological sites. In addition to my coursework, my love of history and historic buildings runs deep.I have fond childhood memories of visiting Lowell, Massachusetts, in awe of the dilapidated, textile mills that lined the canals of the city—some of you may know Lowell as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and the first planned industrial city in the country. Years later as a college student, I returned to a vibrant and bustling city to serve as an intern at the Lowell National Historical Park. As an intern, I had the opportunity to truly get a sense of how much historic preservation and heritage tourism had revitalized the city of Lowell in the time since my childhood.
Having seen the good that historic preservation can do close to home, I’m so happy for the opportunity to serve with Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. PAWV is the statewide grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting historic preservation in the Mountain State. With a commitment to preserving West Virginia’s unique cultural heritage, PAWV and its members work to save the past and to benefit the present with a vision for the future by supporting and promoting historic preservation through education and outreach advocacy, preservation tools, and heritage tourism.
While the first few weeks of service have been chock-filled with training, we have already had the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. At the combined Preserve WV / Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps training at Jackson’s Mill, a group of AmeriCorps members assembled “Little Free Libraries” as a community service project. A cross between a dollhouse and a birdhouse on a post, these small shelters for used books operate on the “take a book, leave a book” principle.
Prior to the training at Jackson’s Mill, Lynn Stasick and I prepared all the materials necessary to assemble each of the libraries, including making a pattern model and cutting the wood required (Did I mention I learned how to use a power saw?!). We then instructed four teams of AmeriCorps members how to assemble the libraries at Jackson’s Mill. Each of the four AmeriCorps-constructed Little Free Libraries will be painted by residents of the community in which it will be placed, creating a shared sense of pride and allowing us to generate enthusiasm for the libraries before they’ve even been installed. Once installed, neighbors will have the opportunity to share their favorite books with each other.
Although it seems small, this is a fantastic project because it can have such a large community impact. The Little Free Library movement promotes literacy and a love of reading by providing access to books worldwide. And as our experience demonstrates, the libraries also build a sense of community as we—AmeriCorps members, skilled tradesmen, schoolchildren—share skills and creativity during the construction process.
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