By Joe Obidzinski
Most historic sites are familiar with necessary changes to the interpretation of their site. Exhibits get old and new information is gathered necessitating a fresh take on things. At the Jackson’s Mill Farmstead (Historic Area) we have been discussing such changes for the past few seasons. In April, we were provided this opportunity through some fortuitous instruction from above. Jackson’s Mill is a part of the West Virginia University Extension Service and therefore falls under the purview of Morgantown. They instructed us to focus more of our programming efforts on-site. Once they did, we began to work on our new interpretation in earnest. This is a discussion of some of our efforts thus far.
Our site and collections are focused on early life in western Virginia from about 1800 – 1850. As the name implies, we were the home site of the Jackson family (Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson spent his youth here after he was orphaned). Presently, our site features the old Jackson Mill (gristmill) building and a relocated gristmill, and two log cabins. Currently the first floor of the Jackson Mill is utilized as an exhibit space. While this is a great use for the space, it has had some problems for visitors
One of the overall issues with the Old Jackson Mill has always been a lack of cohesiveness in the objects displayed and a disconnect from the period that we primarily interpret. For example, we have gear work from a grist mill that was not the Jackson’s, an entire water-powered sawmill (which would have been located in a separate building nearby), as well as farming equipment, much of which is from the post-Jackson era. Visitors who toured our site were often confused until a guide would offer some explanation for how these pieces related either directly or indirectly to the story of our site. In an effort to address these issues, and provide a richer visitor experience, I developed a number of new exhibits.
I wanted the exhibits to be more than just a dry description of what the people were looking at so I wrote a description that included both the pieces, as well as their importance to the Jacksons, the region, and the history of the period. Ultimately, we installed three exhibits in the Jackson Mill. The first one was called “Forest to Floors” which described how that particular saw worked, how the Jacksons, used theirs, and how the timber industry was important in the region. I also developed another one for the gear work in the mill called “What Makes a Mill Go ‘Round?” The concept here was to discuss the various types of gear work necessary to drive the large stones necessary for gristmilling and how these gears varied from those that drove the Jacksons’ mill stones. Finally, I created an exhibit entitled, “Field to Stone.” This exhibit ties together the various plows, planters, and grain cleaners that are also on the main floor. The narrative discusses the entire season from planting, to growing, and harvesting. It also touches on how the grains needed to be cleaned and dried before they could be brought to the mill for grinding. These exhibits are more traditional in their presentation. This was not the case for some of our other buildings such as the Blaker gristmill.
When we reevaluated the first floor of the Blaker gristmill we concluded that because this is our active mill we wanted it to have a more functional and active feeling, rather than the more traditional exhibit space in the Jackson Mill. Since the gristmill was historically a gathering place for the community, and because we conclude all of our tours with a demonstration grind, we have reconfigured the miller’s office to reflect a more “lived in” feeling and give visitors a sense of what a miller’s office was like when people visited the mill for business. In the Blaker Mill, there are three sets of stones, two of which we use and one that is utilized for display. Since each set of stones are carved with pattern called the dress, and this carving needed to be maintained, or redressed every so often, we set up the machinery necessary to raise the stones in order to redress them.
The exhibits discussed here are only a small sampling of some of the many updates that have been made at the Jackson’s Mill Farmstead, many more will continue to be installed in the coming months. To see more on our efforts, or learn about the history of Jackson’s Mill, stop by the Farmstead for a visit. Guided tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday from April through October.
Main Street Fairmont Seeks Executive Director
Do you have what it takes to lead a dynamic organization and create change in your community? If so, we have the job for you!
Executive Director – Main Street Fairmont
Main Street Fairmont seeks a part-time Executive Director to lead the revitalization and economic development of downtown Fairmont, a designated West Virginia Main Street community and 2010 Great American Main Street Award winner. Fairmont is enjoying an exciting renaissance of its small downtown, although much work remains. Potential candidates must be entrepreneurial, energetic, imaginative, well organized and capable of functioning effectively in an independent environment while coordinating multiple public and private interests. Excellent communication, fundraising and collaboration skills are essential. Strong leadership is required. A bachelor’s degree and professional experience in one or more of the following areas is preferred: economic development, urban planning, historic preservation, and/or non-profit leadership. Candidate will be familiar with the Main Street Four Point Approach. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
•Raise the profile of downtown Fairmont in order to reach new audiences and build its reputation as a business friendly environment that will thrive with the emergence of new commerce and the resulting increase of foot traffic. Serving as the lead advocate for Main Street Fairmont (MSF), the Executive Director utilizes a high level of knowledge and enthusiasm in fundraising, non-profit management, and communications in order to ensure that the downtown continues to flourish. The Executive Director is expected to establish good relationships with existing and potential sponsors, and will build a strong fundraising operation for the organization.
•The Executive Director oversees the development of a balanced annual budget and strategic operating plans; plans and implements fundraising and business activities to secure adequate operating and capital monies; utilizes reserve funds effectively; all through sponsorship, applying for grants, and identifying and implementing new business ventures and revenue streams. In consultation with the board of directors, the Executive Director prepares and monitors the annual budget, provides excellent fiscal oversight, controlling receipts and expenditures, meeting budgeted financial obligations while working within the MSF by-laws.
•Articulate a clear vision and set of strategic priorities for the organization, with defined goals and objectives for achievement: The Executive Director is charged with reviewing the mission, vision, strategic priorities and objectives of MSF and, in collaboration with board of directors and co-partners, will continue to develop and implement a strategic plan consistent with the goals of the organization.
•Become familiar with all persons and groups directly or indirectly involved in the downtown commercial district. Assist Main Street Fairmont’s board and committees in developing an annual action plan for implementing a downtown revitalization program focused on four areas; design/historic preservation, marketing, operations/management, and business enhancement/development.
•Coordinate activity of Main Street committees, ensure that communication between committees is well established; assist committees with implementation of work plan items.
•Develop and maintain a close working relationship with the City of Fairmont and Marion County to ensure that all aspects of the downtown revitalization efforts are compatible with the goals and objectives of the City and County.
•Coordinate and participate in ongoing public awareness and education programs designed to enhance appreciation of the downtown’s architecture and other assets and to foster an understanding of Main Street Fairmont’s goals and objectives. Through speaking engagements, media interviews and appearances, keep Main Street Fairmont highly visible in the community.
•Assist individual tenants or property owners with physical improvement projects through personal consultation or by obtaining and supervising professional design consultants; assist in locating appropriate contractors and materials; provide advice and guidance on necessary financial mechanisms for physical improvements.
•Assess the management capacity of downtown businesses and encourage improvements in the downtown community’s ability to undertake joint activities such as promotional events, advertising, special events, and business recruitment. Encourage cooperation between downtown interests and local public officials.
•Work closely with local media to ensure maximum event coverage; encourage design excellence in all aspects of promotion in order to advance an image of quality for the downtown.
•Represent the community at the local, state, and national levels to important constituencies. Speak effectively on Main Street Fairmont’s directions and findings. Help build strong and productive working relationships with appropriate public agencies at the local and state levels.
•Oversees operations of the Citizens Building, located on Adams Street.
Job Knowledge and Skills Required
The Director should have a bachelor’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: public relations, marketing, volunteer recruitment/management, event planning and management, commercial district management, small business development, non-profit administration, fundraising, architecture, and/or retailing. The Director must be sensitive to design and preservation issues. The Director must understand the issues confronting downtown business people, property owners, public agencies, and community organizations. The Director must be entrepreneurial, energetic, imaginative, well organized, and capable of functioning effectively in a very independent situation. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential. Supervisory skills are desirable.
How to Apply
To be considered for this position, applicants must submit the following: a resume, cover letter, three work-related references and salary history by October 7th. To apply, send materials to email@example.com.
Aurora Research Associates, LLC is hiring for two temporary architectural survey positions
Approximately three weeks of field work, not necessarily continuous, will take place in southern West Virginia in the fall of 2016. Completion of survey inventory forms will continue through 2017.
Candidates should be willing and able to travel for field work and to work from home completing forms and historic research. Knowledge of coal-related history and resources a plus.
Job title: Architectural History Field Surveyor
Job Description: Temporary contract position assisting with architectural history survey in southern West Virginia. Surveyor will work with team in the field documenting historic resources, including architectural features, materials, alterations, additions, and other data.
Must be available approximately 3 weeks of field work in West Virginia fall 2016. Will also work at home in office completing West Virginia Historic Property Inventory forms; must have computer and internet connection for telecommuting.
To apply, please send cover letter, resume and writing sample by September 30, 2016 to: Courtney Zimmerman Aurora Research Associates, LLC 1436 Graham Road Silver Lake, OH 44224 or courtney@aurora‐llc.com
Job title: Architectural Historian
Temporary contract position assisting with architectural history survey in southern West Virginia. Architectural historian will work with team in the field documenting historic resources including architectural features, materials, alterations, additions, and other data.
Must be available approximately 3 weeks of field work in West Virginia fall 2016. Will also work at home or in office 1436 Graham Rod Silver Lake, OH 44224 completing and reviewing West Virginia Historic Property Inventory forms and assisting and writing; must have computer and internet connection for telecommuting.
To apply, please send cover letter, resume and writing sample by September 30, 2016 to: Courtney Zimmerman Aurora Research Associates, LLC 1436 Graham Road Silver Lake, OH 44224 or courtney@aurora‐llc.com
Dan and Cathi Hartsook, the current owners of French’s Mill, are looking for people of interest in the purchase and preservation of the mill. The “on table” selling price is 149,900.00, will be negotiable. Please visit their website frenchsmill.com for contact information, history of the mill and photo gallery.
In 1900, 428 mills were listed in West Virginia. In 1980, there were 18. Today, only four remain operable to include French’s Mill. Ref: Wonderful West Virginia Magazine, June 2016. With post and beam construction much of the building and machinery remains intact, providing a rare view into an early 20th century electric powered gristmill, both in terms of construction as well as operation.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History can offer matching grants between $2,000 and $10,000 to West Virginia nonprofit arts and history organizations whose buildings or collections were impacted by recent flooding.
The Cultural Facilities and Capital Resources Fast Track ADA Emergency Grants provide emergency funds to address damage and the threat of damage or unsafe conditions involving a building or collection. This includes damage to an art or history museum’s infrastructure or sudden failure of equipment that may result in harm to the collections and public safety. Smaller renovation and construction projects needed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act also are eligible. This program has a rolling deadline, and funds for approved projects are generally available within 6 weeks.
Funding for the grant program is provided by the West Virginia Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, contact Debbie Haught, program coordinator, at (304) 558-0240 ext. 714 or Debbie.R.Haught@wv.gov or visit www.wvculture.org/Arts.
CERF+ relief assistance: CERF+ would like to make sure that any professional artist working in a craft discipline seriously affected by the flooding is aware of the emergency relief assistance available from CERF+. If, as an artist, you have suffered loss, please contact us when able. If, as an arts organization representative, you know of artists in the disaster areas, or plan to correspond with your artist constituents in the near future, please pass this information on. If there are organizations that directly work with artists in your community that you think we should know about, please send us their contact information.
Direct Assistance to Artists Working in Craft Disciplines: CERF+’s programs include:
For eligibility requirements and more detailed information, please visit the Emergency Relief section of our website or contact us at: CERF+ PO Box 838 Montpelier, VT 05601 ph: (802) 229-2306 fx: (802) 223-6484 firstname.lastname@example.org www.craftemergency.org
Emergency Preparedness and Recovery Information for Artists The CERF+ Studio Protector website has extensive information and resources designed to help artists and those helping them in the disaster recovery effort, as well as disaster planning resources.
We rely on people like you to let us know when an artist has been affected by a disaster. Help us help artists in need by staying in touch with CERF+. Join our mailing list to receive these notices and other CERF+ information aimed at safeguarding and sustaining the careers of craft artists and providing emergency resources that benefit all artists. Thank you for helping spread the word about CERF+! Share on Facebook. Please contact me if you have questions, Les Snow Program Manager email@example.com
‘War Comes to Union’
Event Offers Unique Volunteer Opportunities
June 24, 2016. August 27th, 2016 is the date for the Monroe County Heritage Days Living History event: War Comes to Union! The organizers are looking for people interested in portraying local citizens of Union, West Virginia, during the 1860’s. The event seeks to recreate that time in 1864 when our town was visited by the Federal Army and occupied for five days. Citizens of the area were Southern Secessionist, Unionist and pacifist. Many were local farmers, laborers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, teamsters, etc. We are seeking men, women, and children to bring that time ‘alive’. This unique volunteer opportunity is your chance to “step back in time” and live for a day as our ancestors did during that defining moment in American History. In May of 1864, Union General George Crook led his force through Union on a Sunday morning after his victory at Cloyd’s Mountain, VA. The 10,000 men, 200 wagons, 35 ambulances, 213 prisoners, and over 100 negroes of Crook’s army took six and a half hours to march through town and spread out for miles to camp and forage. The population of Monroe County was nearly doubled by the size of the army that occupied Union. The Monroe County Heritage Days organizers are seeking volunteers, reenactors, and living historians to bring this history alive. This living history event will attempt to portray the 1864 Federal occupation of Union’s historic district and surroundings. There will be an encampment in the fields surrounding the town’s Confederate Memorial. There will be drills, demonstrations throughout the encampment. In Union and the vicinity there are several historic structures (log cabins, homes, churches, and the stately Elmwood mansion), which will serve as scenes for scenarios of events that happened (documented, first person accounts). We would like to have civilian (local ‘southerners) impressions to portray the townsfolk and how they will be ‘dealing with the Yankee troop’s ‘foragers’ as they occupy the town. There will be an initial ‘skirmish’ with local Home Guard by the forward skirmishers of the Federal’s leading element. Friday will be arrivals and set-up of participants. Saturday, August 27th is the ‘main event’, that evening we will host a period dance. Sunday we are planning a period ‘church service’. Please join us!
For more information about the event and volunteering visit our web site:MCHDWV.COM and contact Chris Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (304)772-4712.
WBOY Channel 12 recently published a story about the WV Historic Theatre Trail expansion. It can be viewed here. To learn more about the trail, visit http://wvhistorictheaters.com/.
PAWV is pleased to announce that it is expanding its heritage tourism initiative, the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail. In addition to having just added 6 significant theaters to the Trail, PAWV’s recent receipt of a $1000 mini-grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council will allow the organization to further promote the Trail.
The West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail is a statewide thematic tour of operational, historic theaters, encompassing both cinemas and live performance venues. All of the Trail’s theaters are listed in, or have been officially determined eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places – the official list of the nation’s historic places deemed worthy of preservation by the National Park Service. The Trail promotes the rehabilitation and sustainable operation of our state’s historic theaters for the enjoyment of the public.
The Trail was born in 2010 following a 2007 Preserve America grant award to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), in partnership with PAWV, to develop statewide thematic tours to encourage heritage tourism in communities throughout the state. When it started, the Trail included 26 theaters across the state. By 2015, however, 4 Trail theaters had closed, and staff at various other historic theaters in West Virginia had been asking PAWV about how to be added to the Trail. During 2015 and early 2016, PAWV requested and received applications from additional historic theaters across the state. After using state heritage trail criteria to decide which to accept or reject, PAWV recently added 6 theaters to the Trail. The new members include:
The Trail now encompasses 28 members, spanning 21 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. For quotes from several of the organizations and agencies that operate or utilize the Trail’s new members, please see the end of this press release.
The Trail’s main public presence is a website run by PAWV (https://wvhistorictheaters.com/). It contains informational pages on each member theater; overarching Google Maps and theater trip itineraries, broken up by region of the state; historic theater resources (such as books, articles, and related organizations); links to the Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) for each theater’s area, etc. The Trail’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/wvhistorictheaters/) is where PAWV staff share member theaters’ events and post relevant news articles, press releases about the Trail, etc. PAWV also promotes the Trail and its member theaters through rack cards distributed to member theaters and their CVBs. Another marketing tool has been Trail interpretive signage, which PAWV presented to each original member theater to display inside. Those signs contain site-specific historical and architectural information, as well as information about the Trail itself.
Having added the 6 new member theaters, PAWV plans to launch a major promotional campaign for the Trail, utilizing the $1000 WV Humanities Council mini-grant funds. PAWV has already purchased a short, memorable URL and has updated the existing Trail website to include the new members throughout. Next, PAWV will design and print various promotional materials. Those will include interpretive signage for each new member, updated rack cards, and a portable, retractable banner showcasing the Trail.
Overall, these new promotional materials will serve as a valuable outreach tool – educating the public (both locals and tourists) about the Trail and its member theaters. Specifically, the rack cards will alert people that the member theaters exist and are open for visiting, offering entertainment in their communities. The interpretive signs and the banner will go more in-depth, helping to inform and educate viewers about the history, sociocultural importance, architectural significance, and historic preservation of the state’s operational, historic theaters (not only individually but as a group). Additionally, since many of the Trail’s theaters have been reopened after periods of closure or are adaptive reuses of other building types (such as historic churches), these promotional efforts will help demonstrate how historic preservation has been a successful revitalization and economic development tool in West Virginia.
To learn more about the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail, visit https://wvhistorictheaters.com/ or email PAWV’s Preserve WV AmeriCorps member, Kelli Shapiro, PhD, at email@example.com.
By Brenna, Preserve WV AmeriCorps
Big Things are Happening in Fairmont – An Update on the Spadafore Building
In my short stint as an AmeriCorps member I have been privy to witness a fantastic boom in historic preservation and reuse in Fairmont, WV. In a little over nine months I have experienced the opening of six new business, with a seventh to open next month and all within our historic downtown.
To celebrate these wonderful accomplishments Main Street Fairmont is hosting a series of Main Street Mondays, in collaboration with the City of Fairmont, to officially welcome three new restaurants to the historic downtown.
The second Main Street Monday took place Monday, May 16, at Fox’s Pizza Den (previously known as the Spadafore building), 94 Fairmont Ave., Fairmont. Restaurant owner Mark Offut, co-manager Steven Hammond, Fairmont City Council members, Marion County Commission members and members of the Main Street Fairmont Board of Directors were all in attendance. City Manager Robin Gomez presented Fox’s Pizza with a special proclamation in thanks for contributing to downtown Fairmont’s continuing revitalization.
Owner Mike Offutt and his partner Adam Rohaly, formed Fuzzy Mammoth Development LLC with intentions of purchasing this historic building to breathe new life into a once blighted area. Offutt and Rohaly then bought the Spadafore building together to redevelop into a restaurant and fashionable downtown apartments. Along with other local businesses, Fox’s hopes to revitalize historic downtown Fairmont.
“I am really excited about what is happening downtown,” Hammond said. “We really wanted to contribute to the revitalization OF downtown. I think that the more people who come here, not just to our restaurant, but to other restaurants around us in the downtown area, the more this is going to build up. It’s an exciting time right now.”
The Spadafore Building, c.1928, is a three story Art Deco influenced building that was listed on the National Register as a contributing structure in 1995 when Fairmont perused their historic downtown nomination. This building may sound familiar as it was the center of a Historic Preservation Review Commission (HPRC) dispute back in 2012 when the Fairmont Community Development Partnership(FCDP) looked to demolish the building to make way for a parking lot in the interest of another historic structure rehabilitation. For more information check out the PAWV newsletter volume XIX, number 2, Summer 2012.
Other Main Street Mondays are planned during the month of May. The Freight House, location 101 Fairmont Ave., was celebrated with a ribbon cutting Monday, May 9th. The Downtown Grill, 323 Adams St., will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Monday, May 23.
News and Notes
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