In honor of Preservation Month, volunteers gathered at the Golden Rule in Belington, WV for a clean-up day.
The historic store building was added to the WV Endangered Properties List in 2014, and has since benefited from a cosmetic cleaning. There’s clearly still a lot of work that needs to be done, but it’s amazing what a little bit of weed-eating and landscaping can do for any site.
The Belington Revitalization Committee and Belington OnTRAC are on their way to making this site a downtown staple again. Look through the gallery for before and after shots.
Email us an firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering for clean-up days or looking for information on how to help.
Preservation Alliance has teamed up with WBOY Channel 12 on a 12 week news series about WV Endangered Properties in north-central West Virginia. The first news story is about Woodlawn Cemetery & Caretaker’s Home in Fairmont, Marion County, WV. Our very own field services representative, Lynn Stasick, was interviewed about this property. Lynn has been helping with the rehabilitation of the historic windows in the residence.
Enjoy this short video and look for more over the next 11 weeks!
There will be a public meeting to discuss next steps for the historic Golden Rule building in Philippi on 5/15.
All are encouraged to attend to help plan for the re-use of this downtown staple. Show your love for this building during historic preservation month by supporting this 2014 WV Endangered Property.
Fayetteville is no stranger to serving as a hub of activity. During the Civil War, Fayetteville was occupied by both the Union and Confederacy due to its strategic location. During the early 1900’s, Fayetteville grew as a center of law and business in the area and remains the seat of Fayette County today. The school building was witness to the early prosperity of Fayetteville and experienced evolving uses while under the ownership by the Board of Education. The school was built in 1923 by skilled Italian stone masons. The builder, C.G. Juanutolo, constructed many of the other stone buildings in the area. Originally, the structure was home to the town’s high school then later the middle school. Most recently, the building stored equipment and supplies for the school board.
The need for a central community space has become more evident as Fayetteville has continued serving as a central location for cultural activity in Fayette County and the surrounding area. Additionally, a study by students in West Virginia University’s Community Design Team verified the benefits of such a community space. The study, conducted during 2007, recognized the historic significance and opportunities such a space would provide to the community. It became clear that this option should gain serious evaluation. Town Superintendent, Bill Lanham, began contacting possible community groups and the Board of Education who possessed the building at that time.
After four years of efforts to secure the deed, the town acquired the building from the Board of Education at the end of 2011. Even before the news was official, the town was beginning to receive interest from community groups who were looking for new activity space. Interest has been expressed by a wide variety of groups including, but not limited to, the Fayetteville Women’s Club, Rotary Club, and Arts Coalition. Individual citizens and council members have also come to the support of the Town’s efforts.
Fayetteville is clear in its goal to keep the building – it is a piece of the town’s historic heritage and capable of endless possibilities for the space would provide. The sky is the limit when it comes to the potential of the building. How cool would it be to see local artists’ pieces on display, possibly catch a music recital, and visit local history exhibits all in one spot? The completed roof repair will hopefully act as catalyst to continue reuse projects and brighten the future for the town while remaining true to its storied past.
The city of Weirton was incorporated in 1947, combining the areas known as Holliday’s Cove – home to the area’s earliest settlers, Marland Heights and Weirton Heights – both located on bluffs above the downtown area, and Weirton – the area immediately surrounding Weirton Steel. Some forty years prior, the area was mostly apple orchards and farms. In 1909, Ernest T. Weir, president of Phillips Sheet and Tin Plate Company of Clarksburg, WV, purchased 105 acres of land from Cyrus Ferguson to expand his business. By the end of 1909, Weir’s company was operating ten mills and by 1918, the Phillips Sheet and Tin Company changed its name to Weirton Steel Company. Weirton Steel and the surrounding areas continued to prosper for the better part of 60 years. At one time, the company employed over 12,000 people, becoming the largest private employer in West Virginia, and was the 5th largest steel producer in the country.
The areas surrounding downtown Weirton, such as Marland Heights, were home to the employees of Weirton Steel. And by providing for the city, Weirton Steel was providing for their employees. During the 1930’s, many community oriented projects were undertaken by Weirton Steel, one such project was the Marland Heights Park and Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool. The park and pool were developed using funds left by David Mason Weir, brother of Ernest Weir and vice-president of Weirton Steel Company. In his will, he stipulated that funds from his estate be used to develop a public space honoring his mother, Margaret M. Weir.
The Art Deco swimming pool was constructed by Weirton Steel Employees including laid-off workers and was under the ownership of Weirton Steel until 1984 when ownership was transferred to the Board of Parks and Recreational Commissioners. Both the park and pool served as the center of Weirton’s recreational activities until the pool closed in 2005. As stated in its National Register Nomination, most of the original elements still exist to this day. The original wire baskets used for storing belongings, wooden dressing benches and a wooden check-in counter.
The impact of the Margaret Mason Memorial Pool and Marland Heights Park is evident within the community; both are mainstays of shared memory. One long-time resident of Marland Heights, Dolores Ginier, was recently interviewed regarding the community pool. Mrs. Ginier was born shortly after the park and pool were dedicated and grew up within walking distance. She has a unique perspective on the situation, having seen the growth of Weirton and the Marland Heights area. She began going to the pool at a young age and took her children there as well. When asked what she remembers most about the pool, Mrs. Ginier answered, “We lived there in the summer. From 4th grade on, we spent every day there. We would ride our bikes two times a day to the pool.” She also remembers her favorite aspects of the pool, how cold the water was as well as the diving boards. [Originally, the pool had three diving boards, including a high dive. In 1990, the high dive was deemed unsafe and removed due to the depth of the deep end.] Mrs. Ginier says her and her friends would lay out a lot as they got older, their goal being to “get tan, as dark as we could get. We didn’t know any better in those days, how bad that was for you.” Some activities that were popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s were ping pong, which was played in a shelter on park grounds, as well as shuffle board. She also remembers playing tennis and watching others play basketball. Mrs. Ginier talked about some of her earliest memories involving the playground. “The playground used to be in back of the pool, there were children’s swings with wooden seats and possibly a slide. There wasn’t any climbing equipment like now” [today the playground is to the right of the pool and does consist mainly of climbing equipment]. “The maintenance and care [of the park] also stand out. There was a spit-polished shine. No gravel was out of place and the shrubbery was perfectly manicured. I believe Weirton Steel took care of the maintenance.” When asked how she feels about efforts to reopen the pool, Mrs. Ginier replied, “I fully support the efforts currently being made. I wish them well.”
Currently, efforts are being made by the Marland Heights Community Association and the Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation to begin the necessary steps required to open the landmark to the public. The Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool is a major part of the history of Weirton and Weirton Steel. It is a unique building, retaining most of its original elements, and will be a cornerstone of the community.
Here is a historic video of the pool dedication:
Rodney Bohner, PAWV’s Preserve WV AmeriCorps, organized a few AmeriCorps members. With oversight provided by Lynn Stasick and Pete and Carolyn Stephens, the volunteers covered the logs with a large tarp. It was a sunny day with strong winds, which made it difficult to secure the 30′ x 40′ tarp. However, it was a successful day, and the members were able to ensure this precious resource is protected from the elements until the fort can be reassembled.
The original mill on the Feagans’ site was built by the Abram Haines family between 1757 and 1760. That mill was burnt to the ground by Union forces during he Civil War by order of General David Hunter and General Phillip Sheridan in 1864. It was rebuilt around 1870 by Isaac Feagans, who had purchased one half interest in the property from the Haines family and began operating as the Haines’-Feagans’ Mill. In about 1900, Wilder Feagans purchased the remaining share from the Haines, and the mill operated as Feagans Mill until 1943, when it was shut down. During 1937, it did suffer some damage from another fire, and from 1943 to 2010, little upkeep was done to the mill and it fell into a state of disrepair, with pests infiltrating much of the building.
Acquired by the present owner in 2010, the mill is in need of minor structural restoration and routine maintenance. The plan is to conduct a full restoration of the site, ultimately resulting in a fully operational historic mill and creamery, as well as ancillary businesses, which could serve the needs of local farmers AND become a historic tourism destination. Rehabilitation of the property began in 2011 by removal of most of the accumulated refuse inside the mill and clearing of the overgrowth from the exterior. The mill is powered by a 16-by-4-foot iron water wheel, made by the Fritz Iron Foundry of Martinsburg and located on the north side of the mill. There has been some difficulty in moving forward with the project primarily related to zoning and engineering regulation concerns. It is hoped that PAWV can reduce the threat to the property by providing technical guidance to the owner as to proper historic restoration and preservation techniques and can help the owner mitigate some of the concerns of the county planning and engineering departments.
The Golden Rule building is one of the last remnants of Belington’s economic boom. Completed in 1902, this local ‘landmark’ housed the Shinn family’s Valley Grocery Company wholesale operation and later the Golden Rule Company retail store. Though this is not the only family business associated with The Golden Rule, this turn-of-the-century building includes a hydraulic elevator from the Warner Elevator Company, a family company out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Warren Warner was considered a pioneer in elevator manufacturing. In the mid-nineteenth century, his company built the first hydraulic elevator in the United States. After Warren passed away in 1891, the company remained in the family. His grandson, C.H.M. Atkins took over the Warner Elevator Company. By 1912, the Warner Elevator Company was the third largest producer of electric elevators in the country.
Mechanics of the elevator
The elevator in The Golden Rule is little more than a palette-sized plate in a narrow three-story shaft. The whole system comprises of a large metal cylinder, iron pipes, cables, and pulleys. The iron pipe, connected to the city’s water source, fed into the cylinder causing the pulleys to turn and the platform to rise and fall. The major mechanical parts are still in the basement, however, it appears that several pipes are missing. The Belington Revitalization Committee hopes to get the elevator working again as part of the preservation and rehabilitation of the building.
Long before the town of Glen Jean became the New River Gorge National River (NERI) headquarters in 1978 and prior to its post World War II economic boom and bust, the area was a thriving industrial region rich in coal and timber. The workforce necessary to run the engines of such industry was sizeable, and soon workers and families dotted the countryside. As other mines opened and the population grew, so did the need for a more sophisticated school system. This eventually led to the construction of the Old Glen Jean High School.
In 1880, Thomas McKell and his bride, Jean Dun, both of wealthy Ohio parentage, visited the New River to survey property they received as a wedding gift. Realizing its potential wealth, McKell purchased additional land bringing their holdings to 25,000 acres. He then leased the coal to the Collins Colliery Company, and established the towns of Glen Jean, Dun Glen, and the Glen Jean Bank. To transport the timber and coal, McKell constructed a seven mile railroad connecting Glen Jean to the C&O mainline at Thurmond. In addition to hauling freight, a half-million passengers rode the mainline yearly. To capitalize on this, McKell built the one-hundred-five room Dun Glen Hotel and gambling hall as well as a bridge across the river from the train depot.
To manage such a large workforce, McKell’s needs required the creation of whole communities to house workers and their families as well as facilities to educate the children. For years, small schools populated the region, but in 1921, Fayette County purchased a tract of McKell land and constructed a school building, which burned in 1924. In 1925, a one story structure was built adjacent to the first building, and in 1926, the two-story building now listed as a 2014 PAWV Endangered Property was constructed on the original site.
Located about a quarter mile from NERI headquarters on State Route 25 and the Dunloop Creek, the building is constructed using polychromatic (multi-colored) brick. The front façade sports a Moorish style bell tower, an arched entrance, and a Palladian style opening above the arch. Along with the McKell Bank, it one of the few remaining structures dating to the early New River mining era.
The school remained in continuous operation until 1997. The building was purchased in 1999 to serve as business offices and visitor center for the Thurmond, Glen Jean, and Great New River Railroad, and was closed in 2006. Since that time, the school has suffered large-scale vandalism. The owner’s plan is to temporarily mothball the building in an effort to better secure it, with the future goal of adaptively re-using it as a higher-end living facility for the elderly, or for other mixed use purposes.
News and Notes
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