Top O Rock is a distinctive house sitting atop a rocky outcrop which provides 360° view of Charleston and the Kanawha River. The building was designed by Henry Elden, an industrious and award winning architect whose works are known throughout the area. Due to recent vandalism and deferred maintenance, the Charleston Building Commission last week sent the current owners a notice to submit a development or demolition plan within three weeks or face possible fines.
The current owner purchased the house in 2011. Since the transaction, the house has remained vacant. Due to the ongoing vandalism, the property owners have hired a security guard. On May 7th, the WV MetroNews reported Rodney Loftis and Sons Contractor, “has a contract to tear down the house and is going through the normal process of asbestos assessment and other pre-demolition requirements. He said the demolition could start in three to four weeks.” It is not clear if the contract has been signed and the contractor is not speaking publicly on the subject.
If you are interested in keeping up with any developments or voicing your concern, click on the Save Top O Rock Facebook group page and ask to join.
Meet PAWV’s new VISTA, staff, Preserve WV AmeriCorps, and PAWV Board of Directors and ask them historic preservation questions. Bring photos of specific historic buildings if you have questions related to their preservation. Have a question about historic windows, ask Lynn! PAWV’s very own Lynn Stasick will be giving a historic windows demonstration using windows from the Darden House. You will also be able to purchase a copy of PAWV’s new booklet: West Virginia Endangered Properties: Saved & Lost, 2009-2013 at a special discounted rate of $5!
Fun for the whole family! For questions, contact email@example.com.
Cass Gilbert’s West Virginia State Capitol narrates the intricate story behind this architectural feat. Its close examination of the design, construction, and execution of this commission not only reveals the social, political, and financial climate of West Virginia during this period but also provides insight into the cultural importance of this public building. As Cass Gilbert’s design process is traced through unpublished documentation, drawings, and letters from several archives, the over one hundred accompanying photographs—many historical and others newly commissioned for this book—divulge the subtle beauty of the Capitol complex. At the same time, an extensive analysis of historical and contemporary illustrations and primary sources further elucidates the architectural value of this structure.
With welcoming remarks by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and State Senator Brooks F. McCabe, Jr., a prologue by art historians Bernard Schultz and Mary L. Soldo Schultz, and an epilogue by Chad Proudfoot, this revealing and comprehensive study examines the importance of this often overlooked architectural accomplishment, solidifying its significance as a socio-political symbol as well as its place within the history of American public architecture.
To order this title, visit http://www.wvupress.com, phone (800) 621-2736, or visit a local bookstore.
Cass Gilbert’s West Virginia State Capitol
March 2014 / 368pp / 114 photographs / HCJ 978-1-938228-46-9 / $44.99
By Danielle, Executive Director
Abandoned and dilapidated properties are a problem for almost every community in West Virginia. Statistics compiled by the Coalfield Development Corporation last year reveal there are over 500 derelict buildings in McDowell County, 180 discarded residences in Beckley, and in the last ten years, over 400 neglected structures have been demolished in Clarksburg alone. These numbers are astonishing! Most communities realize the abandoned and dilapidated properties cause a slippery slope to reduced property values and tax base, increased crime and drug activity, significant environmental, health, and safety hazards, and more. Towns and cities all over West Virginia are feeling the effects of a dwindling population and do not know how to handle it.
Last year, a group of nonprofit organizations – WV Community Development Hub, WV Brownfields Assistance Center, Coalfield Development Corporation, the Municipal League, and multiple individual communities – joined together as partners to form the Abandoned Properties Coalition (APC). The APC’s goal is to address this pervasive problem plaguing much of West Virginia on a statewide basis rather than on a case-by-case one. The APC is working with state legislators to pass specific legislation to address this problem and working together to remove arbitrary hurdles that make counteracting the epidemic abandoned properties more difficult. The goals of this initiative are to pull together stakeholders wanting to offset the negative effects of abandoned properties and be a unified voice (support organizations plus local municipalities) offering solutions that will have on-the-ground impacts in these communities. This can be achieved by dispersing information and educating communities with abandoned properties, and collaborating with legislators focused on improving policy. These partners realize that communities and legislators need many tools to effectively manage the situation. These tools should not be limited to demolition, the go-to for many town leaders, but also preservation, deconstruction, and adaptive re-use.
PAWV joined the APC to bring our expertise in preservation and adaptive re-use of discarded historic properties. This partnership can build upon PAWV’s own statewide initiative, the West Virginia Endangered Properties Program, which works with communities to build support for and brings new life to neglected historic properties. Moreover, PAWV plans to advocate against any impending demolitions of National Register properties by reaching out to the WV State Historic Preservation Office, Certified Local Governments, and Landmarks Commissions.
It is our belief that the preservation and re-use of our historic built environment are essential tools to prevent the perpetuating problems initiated by decaying structures and derelict properties. Preservation can reinvigorate a sense of community, and it is proven to increase property values and the tax base. As your statewide advocate for historic preservation, PAWV, in partnership with the APC, promises to continue our efforts to preserve and protect West Virginia’s heritage.
Purchase one for yourself, and send one as a gift! The cost of the booklet is $10 plus $2.50 for shipping and handling.
There are two ways to purchase the booklet:
October 3, 2013 · by preservationallliancewv · in Historic Architecture, Miscellaneous. ·Citizens and merchants of Historic Harpers Ferry, whose national park lays claim to historic 18th and 19th century events, including John Brown’s raids, are working together to keep the park open.
According to Gary DuBrueler, President of the Harpers Ferry Merchant Association, merchants and other locals are coalescing so visitors can have the memorable experience they expect and deserve. “They will also give information normally provided by Park Service employees,” DuBrueler says.“Our merchants will inform visitors of historic sites, walks for families, and places to eat…If they don’t have answers to visitors’ questions, they’ll leverage their networks and try to find someone who does.”
In addition, locals have solutions to the following challenges:
Closed: Federal parking lots and shuttle buses parking lots closed due to the shutdown, identifying and negotiating for spaces within walking distance of the historic district.
Open: Parking is still available at lots in Historic Harpers Ferry and West Virginia’s nearby visitor center as well as additional spaces locals have identified or negotiated to use – the majority within walking distance from the historic section of town.
Closed: Federally funded trails.
Open: Yes, trails large and small are open! Locals will gladly point them out, including those on the Appalachian trail and C&O path. Further, according to Executive Director/CEO Ron Tipton, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry remains open and will give visitors advice as to the many trails available to hikers. “Much of the Appalachian trail is state funded,” he says, “and open.”
Closed: Public bathrooms.
Open: Portable toilets will be available to visitors thanks to a collaborative effort on the part of the Town of Harpers Ferry, the Harpers Ferry Merchants Association, and the Harpers Ferry Historical Town Foundation.
Closed: Museum exhibits.
Open: Since many of the sites are outdoors, visitors can still explore them and the West Virginia visitors’ center is open with maps and advice. To complete the experience, merchants offer the chance for visitors to experience a wax museum depicting John Brown’s raid, ghost and historic foot tours from a local historian, a hands-on art center where visitors can create take-home memories, a Steampunk art gallery, and the nation’s only historic confectionary shop, carrying 18th and 19th century products, with free talks about each one.
To make the trip additionally memorable, some merchants are offering discounts and special deals on products, food and activities, many with local or historic themes.
Harpers Ferry lies on the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and one of the stops along the Appalachian Trail. Known for its beauty and historic relevance, it was visited by Thomas Jefferson, was the site of John Brown’s raid, and played a pronounced part in the Civil War. A short drive from Baltimore, D.C. and other hubs, it welcomes visitors from all over the world.
A new exhibition at West Virginia University’s Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum explores the lives of miners and their families in the coal towns of Appalachia.
“Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp” focuses on four central components of our region’s coal communities—commerce and the company store, religion and faith, domestic work and activities and social time and leisure. The exhibition features historical artifacts and photographs from the days when coal was king.
From the late 19th- to the mid-20th centuries, self-contained communities called “coal camps” sprang up across the Appalachian landscape.
“Coal companies built homes, churches, schools and stores in the region’s remote coalfields to attract miners,” said Danielle Petrak, curator. “Although mining operations sustained these towns’ existence, there was more to life in coal camps than laboring underground.”
“Outside the Mine” illustrates how the spirit of hard work and sense of camaraderie typical among miners impacted the development of a distinct coal camp culture. Often isolated by geography and limited in their means, camp residents relied on coal companies for their basic needs and found creative ways to relax, socialize and entertain themselves. Company-provided amenities, including barber shops and post offices, fulfilled practical purposes but also served as social gathering spots. Many company stores contained saloons or social halls, and churches often sponsored youth socials and picnic dinners. Children created makeshift playgrounds out of mining equipment, while women kept each other company by tackling household chores with friends and relatives.
“Outside the Mine” is on view through July 2014. The Watts Museum is located in Room 125 of the Mineral Resources Building on the Evansdale campus of WVU. The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1–4 p.m., and by appointment.
Admission is free, and parking is available at the WVU Coliseum. For more information, contact the museum at (304) 293-4609 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housed in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the social, cultural and technological history of the coal, oil and natural gas industries of the state of West Virginia through the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of objects relevant to these industries.
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Nothing demonstrates the Power of Preservation like before and after photos.
What were once most likely considered “eyesores” in the community have been transformed into a flourishing heritage tourism destination.
These photos of Arthurdale are definitely worth a view.
To learn more about Arthurdale, the nation’s first New Deal homestead community, visit
By Danielle LaPresta
Everyone in southern West Virginia knows about the 2013 National Boy Scouts Jamboree. Two weeks ago, thousands of scouts (estimates up to 50,000), along with parents, siblings, and scout leaders came to southern West Virginia to complete service projects in the state. Whatever your feelings are toward the Boy Scout organization, you must agree this is a very impressive planning feat.
The Whipple Company Store in Scarbro and McCoy Fort in Williamsburg are two sites on the West Virginia Endangered Properties List that engaged the scouts for service projects. Sites had to complete a vigorous application process to receive this support, but it seems well worth the efforts!
The archaeological work at McCoy Fort progressed greatly with the help of the scouts, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps members, and other volunteers, including professional archaeologists Dr. Kim and Dr. Stephen McBride and Carolyn Stephens. It must be mentioned that Carolyn has been working tirelessly to pull off this event, and she did so almost single-handedly. She personifies what we mean when we say this is a grassroots project.
A little background on the fort…
The fort and archaeological site had been covered by a sheep barn at least a century ago. This barn protected the fort and site from the elements, but in the last few years, weather ravaged the barn and threatened the fort and site. With the barn collapsing, Carolyn and several other volunteers were faced with the question of how to dismantle the barn safely and not damage the fort in time for the scouts’ scheduled archaeology project.
The fort is located about 15 miles from Route 219, a major artery traveling through rural Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties. Starting off with two lanes, the road to McCoy Fort quickly narrows to one lane through the lush farmland of Williamsburg. It is a tough road to travel with heavy machinery, which is needed to dismantle the barn and the fort, although I saw plenty of WV Department of Transportation Trucks during my commute on the country road. Many contractors did not want to take on the job because it was small and in a rural location. They did not see it as a cost effective project for either side.
Carolyn had been at a loss for some time over dismantling the fort. She had lots of support from the state, county, and community, as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which provided emergency funding to preserve the site and fort after the 2012 derecho. However, she could not find anyone to dismantle the barn and the fort so that an archaeological excavation could occur.
McCoy Fort tagged and dismantled in preparation for the archaeology, which is needed to complete the National Register Nomination.
About a week before the scouts arrived, Carolyn, her husband, and several volunteers cleaned up the site and barn debris, tagged the fort logs, and dismantled and moved the logs. It was a remarkable feat! And just in time for the scouts to participate in the archaeological dig.
When I stopped by the site last Thursday to see the scouts working, I was truly awe-struck and inspired by what a few people can accomplish in preparation for a larger project. The scouts were thoroughly involved and seemed genuinely excited about their work, even if it was covered somewhat in sheep manure. Dr. Kim McBride was thrilled about the day’s finds, and the foundation of the fort was identified. Although it is not confirmed if the site was definitely a fort, archaeologists are on their way to interpreting it and educating us all about a lesser-known frontier historical site in West Virginia.
The McBrides and Carolyn are already planning a workshop with the community to clean the artifacts, and they are developing plans to engage 5th and 8th grade Greenbrier County students and teachers in the educational process. It is a community effort worth mirroring!
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