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!
Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) is giving an instructional workshop about Hazardous Materials in Historic Buildings on Friday, July 26th at Arthurdale Heritage Center from 11am – 5pm. Lynn Stasick, PAWV Statewide Field Representative and EPA-certified lead paint renovator will be the instructor for the workshop. The content will focus on common hazardous materials found in historic buildings including lead paint, mold/mildew, and asbestos. Lynn will provide safety and mitigation tips for dealing with all three of these common hazards. The workshop will explain and quell myths about these common issues. It will also help participants to design plans to approach these problems.
Participants will also be led on a tour of a PAWV 2012 Endangered Site, the Arthurdale School Buildings, to investigate the hazards discussed during the workshop.
The workshop is free for PAWV members and WV Endangered Property Site Representatives, and lunch will be provided for a $10 fee. There is a $15 fee to attend the workshop for non-members.
For more information and to register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Danielle, Executive Director
It’s the close of National Historic Preservation Month, but summer is just getting started. It’s beautiful and warm in West Virginia. Take in the historic sites in West Virginia this summer! There’s so much to see.
By Danielle, Executive Director
Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is very lucky to have a historic preservation expert and EPA-certified lead paint renovator as its Statewide Field Representative. Lynn Stasick’s contracting expertise and knowledge of historic properties has helped countless people all over the state in their efforts to rehabilitate and re-use historic properties.
Preservation Alliance is always thinking of new ways to use Lynn’s skills to help others while in the field. Lynn frequently gives historic window rehabilitation workshops (in fact, there are two coming up this June).
During the windows workshops, Lynn explains the best practices for rehabilitating wooden windows according to the National Park Service’s Class I, II, and III methods of historic windows restoration and gives a step-by-step demonstration for restoration and weatherization. Frequently, Lynn allows time during the workshop for hands-on training, and participants have a chance to see how easy it can be to rehabilitate a window. Recently, we’ve thought of a new way to help people and organizations wanting to tackle a historic preservation project and address their concerns over taking on such a project.
In honor of Historic Preservation Month, Preservation Alliance tried something different. Lynn developed a new workshop focused on hazardous materials and safety in historic buildings, and the preservation-minded folks in Lewisburg hosted our workshop in the Lewisburg City Council Chambers. Following the presentation, we all took a short walk over to the Sears House – a 2013 WV Endangered Property – to get a first hand look at best practices in safely approaching a historic building.
This workshop really hit close to home for the participants and for us. One of the most common concerns that we hear from fledgling preservationists is their worries over hazardous materials – the bad words in historic preservation: lead paint, asbestos, and mold/mildew. We wanted to create an open conversation about these hazards and let people explain their concerns. Throughout the presentation, Lynn explained the real safety issues associated with these three problem areas and devoted time to quelling myths and educating participants about how to properly mitigate and safely work in historic buildings with these hazards. Much was learned by all!
One of the workshop participants, Margaret Hambrick of the Greenbrier County Historical Society taught us something too. Margaret explained that in West Virginia, prior to ANY renovation or demolition permits being issued, one must perform a test to check for asbestos. We’ve often heard the excuse that people do not want to engage in historic preservation projects primarily because of asbestos mitigation, but even if one wants to demolish an old building, she/he must still test for asbestos. As we’ve seen numerous times, many people have strong impressions about working with historic buildings, but they do not have always have all the facts.
Initially, when we developed the plan for the Safety and Hazardous Materials Workshop, we made it open only to representatives from sites listed on the WV Endangered Properties List. We see the value in having an intimate group participate in a workshop and want participants to have chances to share their thoughts, fears, and knowledge on the topic. However, we have since decided not to limit our next workshop, which is scheduled for July 26 in Arthurdale from 11am – 5pm. If you would like to join us at the next Safety and Hazardous Materials Workshop, please send an email to email@example.com. There is a $10 fee for lunch, and Preservation Alliance members may attend the workshop for free. If you are not a member, there is a $15 fee. The presentation will be followed by a look at the Arthurdale School Buildings – 2012 WV Endangered Property.
Want to schedule a workshop in your community? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to travel to new places and work with new faces.
By Danielle LaPresta
Preserving a historic building requires special skills that can be difficult but often can be easily learned by anyone. Rehabilitating historic plaster is not a simple task, but rehabilitating historic wood windows can be. In keeping with our video trend for Historic Preservation Month, here is a video about the simplicity of rehabilitating historic wooden windows with Lynn Stasick, historic preservation expert, EPA-certified lead paint renovator, and Preservation Alliance’s Statewide Field Representative.
Many people who own historic homes think that replacing historic wooden windows with vinyl windows is the most cost effective and energy efficient solution to their problems with air infiltration and loss of heat.
This really is NOT the case! Evidence suggests that maintaining existing windows can be considerably more cost effective over the option of replacement windows both in payback time and the life of the units themselves. Although one may achieve some energy savings, it will take decades (and believe it or not, in some cases centuries) to recoup the initial investment on certain replacement windows.
Additionally, there are a number of options to increase the energy efficiency of your current windows such as adding weatherization strips and a storm window.
Still not convinced you need to save your historic wooden windows? Read more about it in Lynn’s article.
Feel like the job might be too large for you? We promise, it’s not! You can learn first hand from our expert field representative during up-coming windows workshops this June, or you can always host a low-cost workshop at your home.
The up-coming workshops are:
Saturday, June 8 at Camp Wood near White Sulphur Springs, WV
Saturday, June 15 in Romney, WV.
Questions? Contact us at email@example.com.
“We need a sense of human in hostile, post-industrial communities.”
The WV Humanities Council, with help from WVU professor emeritus Dr. Emory Kemp, brought Sir Neil Cossons to northern WV for three speaking engagements in honor of National Historic Preservation Month to speak about historic preservation of industrial sites in England. He gave some fascinating insight into how England preserves its industrial heritage and uses it for tourism purposes. This is a topic that definitely hit home to West Virginians attending the lecture.
Cossons has an extremely impressive career. He is the former Chairman of English Heritage, the equivalent to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and was knighted in 1994 for his work with museums and historic preservation in England. He 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. He is the former director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Science Museum in London. He is currently Pro-Provost and Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of Art in London. So what did this esteemed professional have to say?
“Every day living imbues a sense of places.”
Cossons gave multiple examples of how the past is captured in practical ways in England. A list of sites include Cornwall, an old tin mining town; Nelson, a former weaving town; and Liverpool, a city suffering from declining population. The industries that were once the defining jobs in many of these communities have died and these towns have to deal with unemployment just like we do in West Virginia. However, all these places had a striking common feature for heritage tourism purposes that is not seen as often in the West Virginia.
Each place has preserved not only the important industrial sites, but also the machinery and skilled trades for making commodities such as bobbins, rope, wrought iron, and silver. Major factories and machinery have been preserved as tourist attractions, and skilled workers continue to create the goods that once defined the town – although on a much smaller scale. Instead of employing hundreds, these factories might have a dozen workers. Not all the machinery is used, but that does not mean that the building has been demolished and with it the machinery. Tourists are drawn to these crafts-places to see the skilled workers in action and to purchase the items they created. Tourists also enjoy cultural foods and music while on their visits. Where are some places this could happen in West Virginia? The Labelle Nail Factory in Wheeling is one place that came to my mind.
“Demolishing a building leaves a scar in the heart of the community.”
In many of these declining towns, vacant buildings are also a problem, as we in West Virginia know very well. Cossons discussed how local municipalities became involved in not only promoting heritage tourism but also in mothballing historic structures and housing for future use. In England, they not only preserve sites for future generations to remember their history but also to redevelop it. Mothballing is the process of temporarily closing a building to protect it from weather and secure it from vandals. Mothballing is an effective preservation tool for historic buildings without a productive use and funding. The purposes of mothballing historic structures include preserving the historic property and context of a town/community and to save the site until a new investor and new plans arises for the property. Although our current generation might not have a use for the property, future generations might. Additionally, mothballing may not be a viable option for every local/county government, but property owners could invoke this low-cost solution for their properties instead of neglecting them and allowing deterioration until the point of demolition. Preservation Alliance has information about mothballing. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
“What can a simple coat of paint do?”
Simple aesthetic tasks like painting and gardening at multiple historic buildings in a community and town can increase pride, visitation, comfort, and value. Although historic places might not be completely rehabilitated, making the effort to paint or do basic maintenance goes a long way. This is something we can do right now in West Virginia. Community painting and clean-up days will engage everyone, in addition to invoking pride in our communities. Who wants to visit a place that even its own residents don’t want to fix up?
After hearing Sir Neil’s lecture, I left feeling inspired and hopeful for West Virginia. There are already so many people working hard and doing what Sir Neil suggested. He ended by reminding us that it takes a lot of partners, citizen/volunteer involvement, and an interested local/county government for historic preservation projects to be successful. I couldn’t agree more.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop primarily for real estate agents at the Historic Darden House in Elkins, WV. This was the third workshop in a series with other locations including Martinsburg and Wheeling. The WV State Historic Preservation Office (WVSHPO) and three Certified Local Governments teamed up to give the workshops in honor of National Historic Preservation Month.
Historic homes and residential historic districts are a dime a dozen in West Virginia. To increase the sale of these homes, real estate agents learned historic preservation facts while earning seven Continuing Education Units. Speakers, Robin Ziegler with the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions and Jennifer Brennan with the WVSHPO, had a jam-packed session focused on the National Register of Historic Places, historic preservation financial incentives, and best ways to market historic homes. I’ll share those with you shortly!
Before moving onto the tips, let’s recap the financial incentives available in West Virginia.
State Residential Rehabilitation Tax Credit: This is a 20% state income tax credit which is based on qualified expenditures undertaken as part of the rehabilitation to a historic private residence. The credit is applied directly against taxes owed by the owner. This credit is available to private homeowners for approved rehabilitation work on their own residence. The building must be either individually listed or a contributing building in an historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Non-historic Tax Credit: This 10% tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of non-historic buildings placed in service before 1936. The building must be rehabilitated for non-residential use and cannot be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
State Development Grant: This is for rehabilitation of properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or a contributing property in a historic district or/and archaeological development of a site listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The grant will cover up to 50% of the project costs, and a 50% match must be provided to receive the grant.
Federal and State Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Credits: A 20% federal income tax credit and a 10% state income tax credit are available for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings that are determined by the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, to be “certified historic structures.” The State Historic Preservation Offices and the National Park Service review the rehabilitation work to ensure that it complies with the Secretary’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Real estate agents should always know if the property they are selling is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This information is easy to find too! For West Virginians, just go to the WVSHPO’s website to see if your property is listed. Once you know if your property is listed, you will know what financial incentives are available to buyers.
Now for the marketing tips:
1) Create a Story – Research the home and find a few interesting tidbits. Share these with your potential buyers. The National Register nomination should have some useful information, and you can also research deeds at the county assessor’s office. The deed will tell you the history of ownership, and you might find that one of the owners had an interesting past.
2) Highlight Original Elements – Historic buildings are treasure troves for original craftsmanship. This will interest many buyers. Point out woodworking, light fixtures, crown molding, and other original materials. Maybe the building is from a special period. Is it a Sears Kit Home or a Lustron Home? Find out! These are niche markets, and buyers want to know all about these homes.
3) Financial Incentives – Don’t forget these!
4) Be a Resource – Offer information on FHA 203K loans, historic preservation craftspeople (we can help with this one), and insurance companies.
5) Embrace the Flaws – Know your buyers. They may appreciate the hand-made quirks of historic homes. They might want a fixer-upper and will jump at the chance to stain those old hard wood floors that have been hidden under carpet for the last 30 years.
6) Advertise with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other historic real estate websites/magazines.
7) Know Inspectors who Understand Historic Buildings – They understand that historic buildings were built to last and will tell the truth about the property you are trying to sell.
8) Consider a Specialty – During your research, you may find that there is a prevalent architect, builder, or style in your area. Specialize in a topic that can help you sell these properties.
West Virginia’s population has, for the most part, been on the decline for the last few decades. Real estate agents can help turn around this trend by selling historic homes and increasing investment in West Virginia’s communities.
Watch a short video featuring the 2013 West Virginia Endangered Properties. So many beautiful historic sites to see, and it is so wonderful that many local residents are working together to save, preserve, and re-use these special places.
For more information on the adaptive re-use and activity at these sites, visit http://www.pawv.org/endangerprogressreps.htm.
May is National Historic Preservation Month! Celebrate it by engaging your historic preservation landmarks commission or local historic society in brainstorming ways to promote historic preservation and environmental sustainability. Not sure who to contact? Ask us by emailing email@example.com.
Historic Preservation is an environmentally-responsible movement. Learn more by watching the video or at http://www.pawv.org/whypres.htm.
Video courtesy of the Walkabout Company, LLC.
May is National Historic Preservation Month!
Begin a building project this May and celebrate historic preservation. Not sure where to start? Watch this video about How to Assess a Historic Building and then use this helpful checklist to prioritize your building’s needs.
Have more questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
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