By Edward Pride, Preserve WV AmeriCorps
With its doors closed, contents in storage, and contractors walking the halls; the antebellum mansion known as Waldomore, located in Clarksburg, has temporarily closed for an extensive renovation. This renovation is part of a revitalization of Waldomore and its collections. The staff has turned their attention to several crucial matters: developing guidelines for new donations, bringing organization and order to the building’s contents, and reviving the building’s museum function.
Permanence requires adaptation.
Waldomore was built in 1842 to be the residence of Waldo P. Goff, a successful investor and businessman. The building was enlarged in the 1890s by his daughter, May and her husband Richard Lowndes. Childless and in possession of a landmark property with no clear future, May gave the mansion to the city of Clarksburg in 1930 for use as a library and museum. In the spring of 1931, the mansion underwent a series of modifications before opening as the Clarksburg Public Library’s new home.
In 1975, the Library moved to its present building next door and Waldomore took on a new role. The ground floor became a meeting and performance space, with antique furnishing and display cases. The second floor would become home to the library’s regional history and genealogy department. In 1990, an archival collection, the papers and publications of UFO writer and publisher Gray Barker, would be added to Waldomore’s holdings. As the collections grew deterioration of the aging building set in, the charm of the building combatted the sense that things were amiss.
Renovation and Opportunity
A leaking roof and an outdated electrical system were the largest issues plaguing the building. A new roof in 2013 brought an end to the continual shifting of materials to avoid damaging leaks. Roof replacement prevented further damage but Waldomore still had extensive plaster and paint damage throughout the second floor as well as the electrical system. But a new issue arose: organization of the materials on the second floor
In October 2015, Clarksburg was awarded a grant by the WV Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval by the WV Commission on the Arts, to replace the electrical system, repair plaster damage, paint, and install new carpeting. This grant provided a unique opportunity to reorganize Waldomore as the complete removal of all contents was necessary for the renovation. Past plans to reorganize the collection had not envisioned the scale of working on the entire contents at one time.
Hidden Gems: Collection Material
Over the course of the packing process, a large number of the materials discovered were expected such as the wealth of photographs featuring people and locations across North Central West Virginia, negatives from a local photography studio, and numerous artifacts including a box of plant fossils.
One of the unexpected discoveries was a large quantity of fine china, including sets from England, France, Bavaria, and beyond. A few pieces had been on display, but significant portions of each set were stored throughout the building wherever space was available. Each time the staff thought they had packed the last piece china, another location would produce more.
The most meaningful discoveries were made along the way. The staff uncovered a group of Harpers’ Weeklies and Harpers’ Illustrated Histories of the War of the Rebellion, both of predated 1900. The staff also discovered items that belonged to Richard and May Lowndes, the previous owners of the mansion. From May, a large Staffordshire soup tureen, and from Richard, a group of books complete with bookplates featuring Waldomore.
The staff has a new appreciation for the diversity of Waldomore’s holdings. When this process began, we believed that most of the materials would be books, family histories, and genealogy files. We did not anticipate the amount of artifacts and archival materials that were uncovered. Our original plan to create a strong regional history/genealogy library with a few artifacts and 2 archival special collections would need to be altered to include a much larger archival storage area.
This has led to a complete redesign of the collection storage areas on the second floor. We have been designing the new areas to maximize their usability and capacity. As the redesign continued, they staff had to identify the appropriate storage conditions for various materials and ensure that they are met. The most visible additions are the two map cabinets to properly store and protect oversize posters and maps.
As we have been working on the physical space in Waldomore, we are also revising and evaluating the policies and procedures for Waldomore’s collection. We have reviewed Waldomore’s mission, geographic range of the collection, and the collecting policy to update and streamline these to reflect the current and future nature of the materials in the Collection.
Lastly, the staff has developed a system for arranging and organizing collection materials as they return to the building. All incoming materials must be verified against the library’s catalog. Materials that exist in the catalog will be given new labels; uncatalogued materials will be processed, cataloged, and given a label. Once complete, Waldomore will have its first uniform arrangement system; which can be maintained as the collection grows.
As the renovation draws to a close, Waldomore finds itself entering a new chapter. With freshly renovated spaces, redesigned storage areas, and cataloged materials, when Waldomore reopens its doors, it will be with a new appreciation of its collection and a revitalized mission. If you would like to see the transformation, please visit Waldomore’s blog, www.waldomore.wordpress.com, or our Facebook page, Historic Waldomore.
In President Trump’s FY2018 budget, he proposes to eliminate funding for the National Heritage Areas. The 49 National Heritage Areas across the country – two of which are in West Virginia (Wheeling and Coal) – preserve and revitalize cultural, historic and natural resources, delivering recreational and educational opportunities to visitors, residents and entire regions. Through innovative public-private partnerships, National Heritage Areas have effectively leveraged federal resources, attracting an average of $5.50 of private funding for each dollar appropriated.
Heritage Areas have a proven record of fostering job creation and advancing economic, cultural, historic, natural, and community development. In addition to creating jobs, National Heritage Areas generate valuable revenue for local governments and sustain communities through revitalization and heritage tourism. Lastly, Heritage Areas have undergone rigorous independent evaluations by the National Park Service which document the program’s worth.
Please join PAWV in calling your Congressmen by March 24 and request that they ask appropriators provide robust funding for the National Heritage Area program in the FY 18 budget. Robust funding for this critical initiative will enable communities and regions to effectively tell the stories of their past for the benefit of present and future generations.
District 1 – Congressman David McKinley – (202) 225-4172
District 2 – Congressman Alex Mooney – (202) 225-2711
District 3 – Congressman Evan Jenkins – (202) 225-3452
You can also encourage your Congressman to co-sponsor HR 1002 – National Heritage Area Program Bill, which would establish a designated program for National Heritage Areas within the National Park Service, including clear criteria for designation and evaluation. According to the bill sponsors, Congressmen Charles Dent (R-PA) & Paul Tonko (D-NY), “National Heritage Areas are considered one of the Department of the Interior’s most cost effective initiatives, relying on a public/private partnership in which every federal dollar is matched with an average of $5.50 in other public and private financing.”
Through a generous sponsorship from BB&T Bank, PAWV and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have organized for the National Development Council to bring the first of its two-part Historic Real Estate Finance Professional Certification series to Fairmont – May 8 – 12, 2017.
Entitled HRE247, this five-day intensive course offers a step-by-step look at the real estate development process from the perspective of lenders, developers and investors.
Through case studies taken from real projects, participants analyze real estate development projects—retail, office, residential, mixed-use—using the rates of return required by lenders, developers, and investors, and determine the appropriate amount of public sector financing needed to make projects feasible.
Public sector financing tools and techniques (including Rehabilitation Tax Credits), which are designed to attract, leverage, and complement private financing, are utilized to maximize equity while minimizing the amount of public investment. Specific topics include:
The course will be May 8 – 12, 2017 at the Falcon Center on Fairmont State University’s campus.
The cost of registration is $250.00. Contact PAWV at email@example.com for a special discount code.
Register today at
Lodging Options: Dormitory lodging on Fairmont State University campus is available for $11/night. There will be access to a bathroom and kitchenette. You will need to bring your own bedding, towels, and toiletriest. Contact Danielle LaPresta at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-345-6005 to secure this option by April 23.
Holiday Inn Express
National service is too powerful an idea to be eliminated. In West Virginia alone, the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service (dba Volunteer West Virginia) administers 12 AmeriCorps State projects and 2 AmeriCorps VISTA projects statewide. These programs support about 900 AmeriCorps members annually in West Virginia. Preserve WV AmeriCorps and Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps programs provide direct service to preserve West Virginia’s heritage, while other programs address health and food security, conservation, veteran’s programs, and education support.
Volunteer West Virginia is working with the WV Council of Churches, Step by Step, First Choice the Harrison County Family Resource Network and other partners to develop an understanding of how AmeriCorps can be part of the solution to WV’s opioid overdose epidemic. Last year AmeriCorps programs supported 472 local sites in West Virginia by placing AmeriCorps members, coordinating service projects, and recognizing volunteers. Their work supports hundreds of nonprofit partners and volunteers working together to solve some of West Virginia’s most challenging issues.
In 2016, PAWV’s 19 Preserve WV AmeriCorps members served over 24,950 hours helping 17 sites in local communities. They preserved 33 historic assets and engaged 666 community residents in volunteer projects for Main Street development, historic preservation, and heritage tourism. Each Preserve WV AmeriCorps completes projects to enhance and build upon activities at their site. Their service activities are designed with site and community needs in mind.
Urge continuation of and full funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and for AmeriCorps. Call your Congressional Leaders today!
District 1 – Congressman David McKinley – (202) 225-4172
District 2 – Congressman Alex Mooney – (202) 225-2711
District 3 – Congressman Evan Jenkins – (202) 225-3452
Senator Shelley Moore Capito – 202-224-6472
Senate Joe Manchin – 202-224-3954
In Governor Justice’s FY2018 Recommended Budget (SB 199 and HB 2018) all Division of Culture & History programming that comes from the state Lottery Education Fund (fund 3534 in the budget) will be eliminated. Programs that are made possible through the state Lottery Education Fund include the following appropriations (numbers reference line items in the budget):
Defunding these will cause a major detriment to economic development and cultural heritage tourism in West Virginia.
What you can do to help?
Currently the Senate Finance Committee and House Finance Committee are working on their own FY2018 budget proposals.
Contact committee members and ask them to include funding for these line items in their budget proposals.
You can find the contact information for the
Senate Finance Committee members at
House Finance Committee members at
When you contact committee members, you can ask them to fully fund the Division of Culture & History.
Offer specific information about what will be lost without this funding.
Historic Preservation Grants keep roofs on historic buildings. Private, government, and nonprofit historic building owners can apply for these grants. All properties listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places and listed as a contributing building in a National Register Historic District are eligible. Every dollar in grants leverages an equivalent dollar amount in private and personal funds. These grants can be combined with tax credit incentives, as well.
Arts Programming supports activities around the state like the Huntington Symphony, WV Public Theater, and local community arts activities, as well as Festivals from Vandalia Gathering and Appalachian String Band Festival at Clifftop, to Mountain State Forest
Festival and fairs in small communities, would all lose funding through the Governor’s recommended budget. These programs utilize state funds to leverage federal, community and private dollars for programs that support jobs, bring visitors to WV tourism destinations, and enhance quality of life that attracts new business.
If you want to protect arts and historic preservation funding, please contact Finance Committee members today and ask them to fully fund the Division of Culture & History.
Good news! On Thursday, February 16th, legislation was introduced in Congress that would make important changes to the historic tax credit. The bipartisan Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA)(H.R. 1158 / S.425) closely resembles legislation introduced in the last Congress that would improve access to the credit for smaller rehabilitation projects that will help revitalize our small towns and our inner cities.
The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and is supported by 18 cosponsors, including nine Republicans and nine Democrats and eight members of the Ways and Means Committee. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced companion legislation in the Senate and were joined by Senators Cochran (R-MS), Gillibrand (D-NY), Leahy (D-VT), and Wicker (R-MS).
The Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act encourages redevelopment of smaller, income-producing properties by:
Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act,H.R. 1158 / S.425.
The HTCIA provides Members of Congress with a way to indicate their support for the credit and offers several reform ideas that could be incorporated into a larger tax reform bill. Adding cosponsors to the legislation is a critical step to protecting the historic tax credit during the tax reform process.
Urge Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act H.R. 1158 / S.425:
Contact district offices of both House and Senate Members and ask to schedule a meeting:
To locate the name and phone number of your House Representative go to:
To locate the names and phone number of your Senators go to:
o Shaw Sprague (email@example.com)
o Renee Kuhlman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for speaking up in support of the federal historic tax credit! With your ongoing engagement, the historic tax credit will continue to revitalize our communities, stimulate the economy, and preserve our irreplaceable historic buildings.
By Brooks McCabe
Republished from the State Journal at http://www.theet.com/statejournal/historic-preservation-is-a-major-opportunity-in-w-va/article_63897cca-e357-5fa4-b357-65712081052b.html
There is a renewed interest in increasing West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10 percent to 25 percent. The suggestion has considerable merit, even given the state’s current dire financial situation.
The state is redefining itself as a diversified economy supported by a high quality of life rooted in the natural splendor of its mountains, streams and valleys, accentuated by historic downtowns with a size and scale of communities making it Almost Heaven. West Virginia is in the middle of learning to live within its means. The current fiscal crisis is front and center; it must be dealt with immediately, as painful as it might be. However, everyone also agrees the long-term solution to West Virginia’s woes is to significantly grow a diversified economy and the jobs that go along with it. The end game is more and better jobs; the state’s fiscal shortfalls will be lessened accordingly. It is further agreed that state government’s role is not to create jobs, but to provide a regulatory and tax structure that strongly encourages private-sector investment and job creation. This is exactly what a well-conceived historic rehabilitation tax credit program can and will do.
Revitalize West Virginia’s Downtowns is a broad-based coalition including, among many others, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the Abandoned Property Coalition and the West Virginia Economic Development Council. The goal of this group is to encourage the Legislature to increase the historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10 percent to a more competitive rate of 25 percent. The coalition believes this will spur private investment, create jobs, repurpose vacant and underutilized buildings and provide the state with a positive return on its investment. There is considerable data being developed that confirms these outcomes. Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has written a book titled “The Past and Future City,” which speaks directly to the opportunities and outcomes afforded from the rehabilitation of historic buildings. She documents real economic and job creation benefits from renovating and repurposing historic properties.
The framework is in place for West Virginia to make these suggested outcomes a reality. There are 92 commercial and mixed-use registered historic districts in the state. Morgantown’s Wharf District, the Wheeling National Heritage Area, Charleston’s Village District, Fayetteville and Lewisburg are but a few of the successful illustrations of what historic preservation can do for tourism, economic development and jobs creation in general. But the potential is much more dramatic if the historic rehabilitation tax credit is brought into central focus. The Eastern Panhandle has been an engine of economic growth for the state. Historic properties and downtown redevelopment have been a significant part of the resurgence. But most of the growth has been in new construction and subdivisions dotting the rural landscape. This has created a division between those in favor of growth verses those desiring slower growth.
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is one step closer to national recognition, thanks to the introduction in the Senate of the S. 401 Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act of 2017. Introduced by U.S Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the bill would designate the 18 county region in the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland as a National Heritage Area.
“We are incredibly excited to have our designation bill introduced in the Senate this early in the Congressional session,” said Phyllis Baxter, Executive Director of Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. “We thank all four of our Senators for their support and look forward to movement on our bill as the session progresses.”
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) has been seeking National Heritage Area designation since approval of their Feasibility Study by the National Park Service in 2006. Designation as a National Heritage Area will bring national recognition of the importance of the Appalachian Forest Heritage story, as well as technical assistance through the National Park Service and funding for local projects. AFHA works only with willing partners, and designation as a National Heritage Area does not change any land management and does not add any new regulations.
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) has been working for over 15 years to promote rural community development through heritage tourism and forest conservation. As a heritage area, AFHA works across county and state lines with communities, agencies and non-profit groups. AFHA builds partnerships with a wide variety of interest groups, including forest industry, public lands agencies, and environmental groups, historic and cultural sites, and tourism and community development efforts. Recent accomplishments include the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center in downtown Elkins, new on-line thematic story map tours, and conservation awareness outreach. AFHA sponsors a 38 member AmeriCorps program which provides assistance to local site partners on conservation, community development, heritage tourism, and historic preservation projects. For more information about Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, see www.appalachianforest.us , call 304-636-6182 or email email@example.com.
For the Senate press release, see https://www.capito.senate.gov/news/press-releases/capito-manchin-cardin-van-hollen-introduction-legislation-to-designate-appalachian-forest-heritage-area
The Preservation Alliance of WV is excited to announce that two bills have been introduced in the West Virginia Legislature to increase the state historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%.
In the Senate, SB238 was introduced by Senators Ferns (lead sponsor), Plymale, Weld, and Maroney and referred to the Committee on Economic Development and then the Committee on Finance.
In the House of Delegates, a similar bill was introduced by Delegates Pyles and Upson and referred to the Committee on Finance.
The coalition – Revitalize West Virginia’s Downtowns, https://revitalizewvdowntowns.com/ – is asking the West Virginia Legislature to increase West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit to 25%, in order to:
West Virginia has 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts ripe for revitalization – yet developers choose to invest in neighboring states instead of our downtowns due to West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit.
Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all have 25% historic rehabilitation tax credits. Since 2002, each of these three states has created more than 44,000 jobs in the redevelopment of historic buildings, generating more than $3 billion in total income for each state.
In the same period, West Virginia’s 10% tax credit has created just 3,529 jobs, and $170 million in total income.
West Virginia must take action to remain economically competitive with surrounding states. An increase in the current state historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25% would make West Virginia’s historic commercial districts more attractive to developers, spurring private investment.
Another bill to keep an eye out for this session is HB2356, which was also introduced by Delegate Pyles. The purpose of this bill is to require the approval of the Historic Landmarks Commission for certain Municipal Planning Commission projects within a historic district designated by listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It was referred to the Committee on Political Subdivisions then Government Organization.
Follow the PAWV blog for updates on these bills.
News and Notes
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive e-news updates on historic preservation news and events in West Virginia.