A FUTURE FOR THE PAST: PRESERVING THE PAST AS AN ASSET FOR THE FUTURE ~ HISTORIC PRESERVATION MONTH EVENT
The West Virginia Humanities Council observes National Preservation Month this May by bringing Sir Neil Cossons, distinguished historian, museum director and former chairman of English Heritage, to West Virginia for a speaking tour. English Heritage is the advisor to the government of the United Kingdom on the historic environment of England, from Stonehenge to manor houses.
On May 7, Cossons begins his tour with the 7:00 p.m. presentation of “A Future for the Past: Preserving the Past as an Asset for the Future” at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town. He will repeat the program on May 8 at 7:00 p.m. at West Virginia University’s Erikson Alumni Center in Morgantown and May 9 at 7:00 p.m. at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling. The programs are free and the public is cordially invited to attend.
Cossons will discuss the philosophy and processes for historic preservation in England. He will examine what is preserved, why and how, consider new uses for historic buildings, and share examples of how communities have used historic places as the framework for creating the future in England and other countries.
Sir Neil was knighted in 1994 for his work with museums and historic preservation and has advised governments, museums, and preservation organizations in several countries. His visit to West Virginia was facilitated by his friend and colleague Dr. Emory Kemp, professor emeritus at West Virginia University. In addition to being former chairman of English Heritage, Cossons was the first director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum – a World Heritage site in Shropshire encompassing 10 museums collectively telling the story of the Industrial Revolution, director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and has worked on a number of World Heritage nominations.
Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, English Heritage cares for the National Heritage Collection of historic sites and monuments while serving as guardian of over 500,000 objects and 12 million photographs in their public archives. They protect an amazing range of properties, sites, and objects that include castles, shipwrecks, battlefields, and gardens such as the aforementioned Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, Charles Darwin’s diaries and the Duke of Wellington’s boots.
Support for “A Future for the Past: Preserving the Past as an Asset for the Future” is provided by West Virginia University, Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Nutting, Jefferson Distributing, John Allen, Jr., West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the Bavarian Inn. The Humanities Council also thanks Dr. Emory Kemp, the Honorable David H. Sanders, Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, Harpers Ferry Historical Association, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Shepherd University Historic Preservation Program, and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.
For more information contact the West Virginia Humanities Council at 304-346-8500.
Four members of the Coopers Rock Foundation Board of Directors who are also rock climbers cleaned off the Henry Clay Iron Furnace, of Coopers Rock State Forest, on Friday September 21st, 2012. “Plants were growing all over that structure,” said Jan Kiger, one of the participating climbers. “And we’re not talking just ferns and weeds. There were lots of small trees that had taken root in the soil between the stone blocks.” Unchecked tree growth could eventually threaten the stability of the structure.
Most of those were birch tree saplings, pointed out Adam Polinski, another CRF climber who helped out that day. “They are the same kind of trees frequently seen growing on or around the rocks we climb on here at Coopers Rock.” While the ferns and weeds were relatively easy pickings, the trees were harder to eradicate. “After we cut the trees off, we dug out as many stumps and roots as we could, to prevent stump-sprouting and tree growth in the same places all over again.” The woody plants are the greatest threat to the long-term preservation of the furnace structure, explained Polinski. “The root systems expand as the trees grow, and that can slowly push apart the blocks.” Carol Tannous added that if something wasn’t done, tree growth on the furnace would lead to its disintegration. “You can see where some of the blocks have loosened over the decades. This is a famous local landmark, and we don’t want to see it fall apart.”
The climbers set up rope systems using trees nearby the furnace for anchors. “We purposely did not use the furnace structure itself for safety anchoring in any way”, explained David Riggs, the other climber who helped with the project. “We took a ‘tread lightly’ approach. This is one of the very oldest surviving structures in the greater Morgantown area, constructed in the 1830’s. We even took pains to not disturb the moss on the sides of the furnace. It looks good and doesn’t do any harm, so we intentionally left it in place.”
This was not the first time that the Foundation, and rock climbers, helped out the Henry Clay Iron Furnace in this way. 12 years ago, on July 22nd, 2000, two CRF Board members who are also rock climbers, Lisa Rayburn and Adam Polinski, were joined by 5 other local climbers in a furnace-cleaning effort: Rob Riffe, Scott Ridenour, Shawn Stafford, Bryn Perrott, and Richie Moyers. They accomplished the same task as this go-around. One of the differences between that time and this was that, in 2000, an approved herbicide was sprayed on any remaining root structures to prevent re-growth. This time, no herbicides were used, and instead, more effort went into physically removing stumps and roots. The other main difference was due to the gear and expertise of David Riggs. David is an expert caver as well as a rock climber, and he provided mechanical ascenders for the group. “The ascenders allowed us to climb up the ropes. Between those and rappelling devices, which enable one to descend a rope, each of us was easily able to go up or down a rope and single-handedly cover an entire face of the furnace.”
“It’s a real privilege to care for such an old and important part of our local history – especially in this hands-on way”, said Carol Tannous. The furnace is about 175 years old. “This work will help keep that structure standing for years to come.”
The prominent Second Presbyterian Church in Wheeling’s Center Market Square District has an interesting past and a promising future. Constructed in 1850, the church reflects a checkered past for antebellum Virginia and the complexity of Wheeling’s population. The church founders included secessionists from both the First Presbyterian Church and the United States. One of the church’s founders, Mr. John Goshorn, was a slave-owner. As the church congregation grew, a tide favoring Abolitionism was evident. The church sexton, Mr. John Gaunt, was a free black man, and the Second Presbyterian Church was the site of the Freedmen’s Association meeting in 1865.
The Near Earth Object Foundation is the current owner of the church, and this organization sees the value in preserving and celebrating the history of Wheeling and the church. It is involved in an adaptive re-use project for the church to create an urban observatory, educational facility, and performing arts center in Wheeling’s popular Market Square.
The Near Earth Object Foundation (NEO) has many long-term goals for the church, but currently, it is engaged in a most-needed restoration effort to fix the collapsed roof and the original 50-foot truss structure. Not only is the NEO interested in science, astronomy, and history, but it’s also into the preservation trades. The group will provide an educational opportunity regarding large timber construction as all of the timbers being used for the truss system will be created in a large beam sawmill at the Garvin’s Dairy buildings located outside of Wheeling. These buildings boast ample room to cut the large truss pieces and do hand hewing of components. The wood for the trusses will be cut from local timber found on the Garvin’s Dairy land. Much of timber will come from trees downed by last summer’s “Derecho storm.” The group will utilize the “windfall” to cut as much of the construction material as possible and has been busy measuring, peeling, and hewing, in addition to getting the large beam sawmill set up.
Ultimately the “historic vision” is to restore the church to its antebellum and Civil War era configuration. It will be used as a digital broadcast/webcast studio, flexible performance and presentation space, and “urban observatory”. The building and site are included in NASA West Virginia Space Grant project “SolarMax2012”, solar astronomy.
The Near Earth Object Foundation has Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s blessing to establish the “Arthur C. Clarke Near Earth Object Observatory” here in West Virginia.
For more information on the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit http://pawv.org/endangedlist2013.htm
West Virginia has had its Residential Rehabilitation Tax Credit for over 10 years. With this tax credit, historic homeowners benefit from a 20% credit on qualified expenditures, which include roof replacement, electrical wiring repairs and updates, window rehabilitation, architectural and engineering fees, and much, much more. For the homes to be considered “historic”, they must be listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places or they can be listed in a National Register historic district, a collection of historic buildings in a concentrated area.
In the last 11 years, 67 historic properties have been rehabilitated using this tax credit program. In West Virginia, there are over 1,000 historic resources, and this number does not individually count each property listed in the historic districts. So, why the discrepancy in number of owners utilizing the tax credit and number of historic resources? Property owners continue to fix-up their homes, and many middle-class families live in historic districts. All of these people could benefit from this tax credit.
We at Preservation Alliance believe that two reasons the tax credit is not being utilized more effectively are because homeowners are turned off by anything to do with taxes and that the paperwork is intimidating. To counter these claims, we have created a twelve-page guidebook that explains the tax credit and walks homeowners step-by-step through the tax credit application process. Additionally, this downloadable guide explains who to contact to apply for this tax credit.
So before you start any summer renovations, take a look at the guidebook. You might qualify for this 20% tax credit! If you aren’t certain whether your property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you to figure out whether your property qualifies as “historic.” You can find the downloadable guidebook in PDF format at http://pawv.org/funding.htm.
(For more information about the history of all these springs, check out this excellent online exhibition about medicinal springs from the University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.)
It was popular belief that the sulphur waters, taken both internally as well as bathed in were a curative for any number of diseases, and ostensibly that is why people, (mostly the rich) visited the resorts. There was however another reason of equal import; to escape the oppressive heat, humidity, insects, and various diseases prevalent along the summer coast of the Virginias.
John J. Moorman, The Virginia Springs of the South and West, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1859: facing page 217. Historical Collections & Services, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia.
Blue Sulphur, so named for the iridescent color of the springs was constructed in 1834, the year the resort opened. It began its decline in the 1850s due to competition. In 1859, it became a college for Baptist ministers but closed in 1861 with the outbreak of the Civil War. Both Confederate and Union troops utilized the site as a hospital and camp until it was burned by departing Union troops in 1864 leaving only the pavilion and spring un-touched.
The saving of the site is in the planning stages for the Save the Blue group and the Greenbrier Historical Society. Plugged up drains have caused a swampy condition which will be dealt with first. Then work can begin saving the pavilion which is in need of much attention. Once work is complete, the site will become a two acre park, and a most enjoyable park it will be. I just wonder if anyone will “take the waters?”
For more information on the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit
By Lynn Stasick, Statewide Field Representative
I had seen pictures of the Ananias Pitsenbarger farm, but a recent visit met all of the expectations the pictures had promised and more. Located in Pendleton County near Franklin, this beautiful farmstead is nestled into gently sloping hillsides rising to the surrounding mountains. Established circa 1845, the site presently consists of twenty-six extant log structures including the original house.
I visited with the owners and stewards of the property, Teresa and Jeff Munn in their newer log home perched on a hillside overlooking the original buildings. In speaking with them, it immediately became obvious that these people are very dedicated, not only to the past history of the site and its people but to carefully preserving the structures. One such effort which is underway is to make the original home habitable once again for use as a guest house. In addition, several of the outbuildings have foundation problems which they are addressing this spring.
In addition to a beautiful farm, the Munns are delightful people. After viewing photos of the Pitsenbarger family, a book on the area, and a discussion as to what my role as field representative is and what we hoped to accomplish that day, we took a walk to examine the buildings and discuss their structural issues. Afterward, my traveling companion and Elkins historian Deborah Farrell and I were treated to a wonderful Italian dinner followed by an apple crisp dessert. It was delicious. I would like to offer a word of thanks to Jeff and Teresa for their kind hospitality as well as to their tireless dedication to preservation. Our hats are off to you.
For more information on the farm, visit http://www.pawv.org/endangered2013/farmONEweb.pdf
To learn about all the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit http://www.pawv.org/endangedlist2013.htm
The Residential Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit has assisted homeowners throughout West Virginia to repair, retain, and improve quality housing for families of all income levels. The purpose of the credit is to provide the needed incentive to repair older homes (including condos) listed individually or in a National Register historic district and to help individual homeowners afford this material rehabilitation. It also encourages work that meets the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings” by providing a 20% tax credit for qualifying expenditures including roof, window, and siding replacement and the upgrade of heating systems.
If HB 2916 and SB 436 are passed, this tax credit would be eliminated beginning July 1, 2013.
UPDATES ~ Currently both bills are in committees with HB 2916 in the House Finance Committee (http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/house/HouseCommittee.cfm?Chart=fin)
and SB 436 in the Senate Government Organization Committee
(http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/senate/SenateCommittee.cfm?Chart=govo). Neither of the bills have been added to the agenda of the respective committees, and the bills must be out of committees by March 31st to ensure three full days of readings – which means that if the bills do not leave their respective committees by March 31, the bills have no chance of being passed into law this session. You can contact the respective committee members, at the above links, to show your support for the tax credit.
Why is the residential tax credit so important?
Although the bills are not up for vote yet, you can still make your voice heard by contacting your State Delegates and Senators to make them aware of this threat. You can show them your support for the tax credit by asking them to vote NO to HB 2916 or SB 436 if they are to come up in this session. You can call their office, send emails, or faxes.
Contact information for state senators is here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Senate1/roster.cfm
Contact information for state delegates is here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/House/roster.cfm
By William “Skip” Deegans, Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission
Many Greenbrier Countians have stepped inside “The Westly,” but few, if any, knew it had a history until Rose Thornton saw it. Thornton, a nationally-recognized expert on kit homes, immediately realized it was an early version of a Sears Roebuck home known as The Westly. Most locals knew it only as the West Virginia University Extension Office.
The house was built about 1925 and was bought by the Greenbrier County Court in 1941. After the county purchased it, the house continued as a residence until it was converted into an office for the extension service. A few years ago it was vacated and has quickly deteriorated because of neglect.
The house is located next to the county courthouse and a proposed expansion of the courthouse would have caused the house to be razed. Last year, the Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission (LHLC) served as an intermediary with the President of the County Commission and a local realtor to move the house to a lot about a block away. Since then, the commissioners have shifted their thinking around to preserving and using the house for offices for a county program and moving the courthouse expansion to the rear instead of the side.
Fortunately, The Westly is much like it was when it was first erected. Even though it was used as offices for much of its life, the floor plan has changed very little. All of the original interior woodwork, including lovely double doors and hardwood floors, are intact. All of the windows are believed to be original.
The most immediate needs of the house include new asphalt shingles on the roof and painting. The LHLC has encouraged the county to submit an application to WV State Historic Preservation Office for a matching grant to make these repairs. While Lewisburg is well known for its large colonial and Victorian homes, The Westly represents an important post-WWI period in Lewisburg’s history when companies like Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Aladdin offered folks an affordable well-designed home built of quality materials.
For more information about “The Westly” check out Rose’s great article:
For more information on the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit http://pawv.org/endangedlist2013.htm.
Many industrial construction projects require cultural surveys for locating cemeteries, battlefields, and other historic and prehistoric sites before beginning work. Cultural surveys are typically required as part of federal and state permitting and licensing processes. This is to protect such places from being inadvertently desecrated during highway construction, coal production, wind farm construction, and natural gas production and transmission. Despite this seemingly obvious concept, cultural surveys are not required for non-jurisdictional gathering lines used in the transportation of natural gas.
–>What is a Cultural Survey?
A cultural survey is a search executed by a trained professional, i.e. an archaeologist, to make sure that construction plans avoid culturally significant resources like cemeteries, churches and other historically and culturally significant sites.
–>What Does this Bill Do?
–>What is a Non-jurisdictional Gathering Line?
A gathering line generally runs from the gas well to a processing plant or larger transmission line. Pipelines that perform a gathering function are exempt from FERC regulation under the Natural Gas Act of 1938. The WV Public Service Commission, in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, regulates approximately 555 miles of Class II, Class III, and Class IV gathering lines in West Virginia for safety. Class I gathering lines are most common in rural areas and are not regulated by WVPSC/PHMSA. Such lines are generally referred to as “non-jurisdictional gathering lines” as they are not regulated by any state or federal agency. Since they are not issued permits, licenses, or approval by a state or federal agency, such pipeline construction projects are not currently required to conduct cultural surveys prior to construction.
–>Why is this Bill Important?
West Virginia’s history is as dynamic as its landscape, as is evident by the wealth of rural cemeteries, graves, and other historic sites. SHPO records the presence of cemeteries, but only when reported by the public. Many go unreported and remain absent from the state’s records and maps. Also, many rural cemeteries and graves have a variety of markers in addition to the typical modern headstone, necessitating the need for a trained professional to recognize their presence to assure proper identification. This bill not only extends protection to the remains of West Virginian descendants, but helps preserve our state’s rich heritage for future generations.
Show your support for HB 2893 by contacting your State Delegates. Contact information for Delegates is available at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/house/roster.cfm
The West Virginia Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program offers a 20% tax credit on allowable expenditures like roof repair and window restoration. Privately-owned homes listed in the National Register of Historic Places and those listed in National Register historic districts are able to receive this tax credit. This very effective program is in jeopardy as bills are being fast-tracked through the State Senate and House of Delegates to repeal this tax credit.
Please show your support for historic preservation and this tax credit program by contacting your state Senators and Delegates and ask them to VOTE NO to the following bills:
HB 2916 for the House of Delegates Bill,
SB 436 for the State Senate.
Many have already been contacting their Delegates asking them to Vote NO to HB 2916. We appreciate this support and ask that you do the same for the SB 436.
To find your State Delegates by District, follow this link:
To find your State Senators by District, follow this link:
For contact information for your State Delegates and Senators, visit:
We also ask that you contact the President of the Senate, Jeffrey Kessler, asking him to vote NO to SB 436. His contact information is email@example.com. His Phone Number is (304) 357-7801.
You can also show your support for the residential tax credit by contacting the Speaker of the House Richard Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help us to protect this tax credit, which creates opportunities for investment in our downtowns, saves our historic neighborhoods, and preserves our vast heritage. Without it, historic districts like South Park in Morgantown, Luna Park in Charleston, and the Wees District in Elkins would not exist.
For more information, contact email@example.com.
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