For people who lived and grew up in the Charleston area, looking up at the stunning structure was part of the ritual of driving along the Kanawha River. The circular building, built out of wood, steel, and glass, sat atop a rocky ridge – perched strategically for everyone to see as they travelled along the river. Many dreamed of living there, or of just visiting to overlook the Kanawha Valley from the 6,000 square foot cylindrical studio that gave Top 0 Rock its distinguished elegance.
The demolition followed several years of vacancy and deterioration (after Elden’s 2009 death and the property’s 2011 sale), a period capped off by major vandalism in 2014. In early 2015, PAWV named Top 0 Rock one of the two inaugural properties on its new Buildings at Risk Register (BARR), and other groups also made concerted preservation efforts (including a design competition to find potential adaptive reuses for the unique structure). However, insisting restoration costs were financially unfeasible, the owner chose to demolish – causing a very unfortunate loss to West Virginia’s built heritage. There is still no word about future plans for the site.
In West Virginia, we face an abandoned and dilapidated properties dilemma. With over 400,000 homes built more than 50 years ago, the Mountain State is littered with old neighborhoods now sitting empty and decaying, while nearby industrial sites are contaminated with hazardous materials. In the late 1980s, Ranson and Charles Town, like many rural towns before them, suffered the fate of outward migration as factories closed. For this featured preservation success story, we’ll learn about how one university system has spurred a revitalization on in these neighboring communities in Jefferson County.
After losing an 800- employee business in 2001, the two cities joined together with a vision to to create a precedent-setting Area-Wide Brownfields Plan to beautify and re-use brownfields, a term for vacant properties and hazardous industrial sites. A year later, American Public University System (APUS) joined the brigade to revitalize the area – while utilizing energy efficient building techniques, including solar energy and an electric/ hybrid car charging station. APUS is an online, for-profit university offering more than 90 degree programs through American Military University and American Public University over 100,000 working adults. In 2002, it relocated its headquarters to Charles Town from Manassas, VA. Almost 15 years later, with over $55 million invested, APUS has been the defining force breathing life back into these former industrial hubs. What makes this story even more unique is APUS’s dedication to historic preservation. APUS has singlehandedly rehabilitated over 15 historic properties surrounding the Commerce Corridor, a 1½ mile segment connecting the historic downtowns of Ranson and Charles Town.In the 2013 Brownfields Plan, six brownfields were targeted for community redevelopment projects along this corridor – which APUS’s revitalization movement is turning into the “Green Corridor”.
In 2011, APUS opened the doors to its new Academic Learning Center on the Veiner Scrap Yard site. Linking Ranson and Charles Town, it was used for over a century for metal disposal and recycling. The former industrial park closed unexpectedly and sat vacant for almost two decades. APUS not only redeveloped the property into its LEED Gold 45,000 square foot Academic Center, but also opened its LEED Silver Financial Center and the state’s largest solar array-covered parking lot. These brownfield redevelopment projects, along with recent historic home renovations along South George Street, are having significant and lasting economic and social benefits. APUS’s preservation ethic maintains streetscapes and encourages healthy living by walking.
Why did APUS choose the preservation route? It’s simple, explains APUS’s former President and CEO, Dr. Wallace E. Boston: “In addition to revitalizing Charles Town’s downtown, we realized that our renovations were not requiring the city or county to expand its transportation and utility infrastructure. We also concentrated our growth in an area where some businesses had moved out and our presence was supporting local restaurants and other merchants that might have otherwise closed.”
The university owns eight historic properties along S. George Street, the primary corporate campus for APUS’s 600+ employees. In 2015, APUS announced the completion of three exciting, historic home rehabilitation projects at 200, 208, and 300 S. George Street.
APUS preserved the buildings’ exterior integrity while incorporating new interior design elements and energy efficiency techniques. Two are now Guest Quarters for APUS Executive Team members who do not live in Charles Town but work there frequently during the week. The third house opened as the Eastern Panhandle’s first Technology Innovation Center, a small business technology incubator, focused on veteran-based entrepreneurs and technology-based companies.
These projects are all in addition to the significant contribution APUS made in assisting the Friends of Happy Retreat and the City of Charles Town in securing the Happy Retreat mansion and estate. This preservation ethos has multiple benefits, according to Dr. John Hough, Vice President of Community Relations at APUS, who explained, “Developing the property [at Happy Retreat] helps beautify the community and recruit potenial employees [to APUS].” With an innovative and smart approach to property redevelopment, APUS exemplifies the rehabilitaion projects that PAWV promotes. APUS is a model for best practices in brownfield and historic property redevelopment. Join PAWV in celebrating APUS’s successes and its laudable pledges to continued economic development in the state’s eastern panhandle.
Top 5 Historic Preservation Blog Posts for 2015
Did you know you can support PAWV by becoming a contributing member? By investing $25 today, you not only give much-needed support to PAWV, but you can also receive a tax deduction on your federal income tax. Join today, and get the deduction for 2015! Your generous donation supports projects all over the state like the ones featured in our Top 5 Blog Posts, and by becoming a member, you also will receive the “Preservation News” quarterly newsletter and discounted entry into PAWV events.
Thank you for your support. To become a member, visit the membership link at http://pawv.org/join.htm.
Built about 1910, the 18 ft. x 40 ft. structure served as the first Lewisburg passenger and freight depot for the L&R. It has been a private residence for more than 50 years and is one of the last remaining pieces of the L&R history. When the L&R designed the depot, it appears that the it acquired plans from the C&O for its Standard Combination Station No. 1 which had become a C&O standard station about 1892. Characteristic of this design are the gingerbread decorations in the gables at each end. The L&R station is believed to have had waiting rooms on each side of an office with an extension to handle mail, express, and baggage. This style became one of the most iconic station designs on the C&O, and a hallmark of its presence in Virginia, West Virginia, and later in Kentucky.
According to Tom Dixon, a foremost railroad authority and president of the C&O Historical Society, the L&R depot is the only surviving example of what appears to be a nearly exact C&O Standard No. 1 station. Dixon writes, “It deserves to be preserved as an important artifact of the American railway experience, and a reminder of how Lewisburg attempted to compensate for its not being located on a major railway.”
For a very nominal price, the new depot owner may be entitled to some financial assistance, state tax credits, and possible nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
For additional information, interested parties may contact Commissioner Skip Deegans at 304-646-8475.
By Rachael, AmeriCorps VISTA
The Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival in downtown Fairmont is held the second Saturday in December each year to celebrate the Italian Christmas Eve tradition. Located on Monroe Street in historic downtown Fairmont, the popular street fair dedicated to preserving Italian-American culinary and cultural traditions will be open from 11 am to 6 pm. Traditional Italian foods, live music, a cooking school, a street market, and plenty of warm, dry seating are all awaiting attendees. The festival, organized by Main Street Fairmont, continues to grow each year – but the Italian authenticity and sense of community remains. This one-day event is a lovely way to get ready for the holidays – featuring authentic Italian cuisine, shopping, music, cooking demos, and a street market.
A unique feature of the festival is the live cooking demo presented each year by the Festival Cucina cooking school. The cooking school teaches participants step-by-step to prepare a variety of old and new recipes they can serve at home on Christmas Eve. The recipes change each year so that participants can enjoy a new tradition to take home.
Local bands, dancers, and singers will perform a unique combination of Italian and Christmas music. Local crafters will showcase the best of their Italian roots and Appalachian heritage. Seating and tables will be located in the former firehouse on Monroe Street and in various locations under shelter to keep visitors warm.
After the festival, head over to Morris Park and check out Festival of the Lights. This annual holiday event costs $10 per car and offers 1.3 miles of animated Christmas displays.
The Marion County community invites people to share its Italian heritage at the Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival on Dec. 12.
For more information, visit the Main Street Fairmont webpage at http://mainstreetfairmont.org/ and at http://threecitieswv.com/2015/10/30/feast-of-the-seven-fishes-festival/.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for new sites to be added to the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail. Theater owners, interested community organizations, and others can apply to add a theater to the Trail by submitting an application form to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15, 2015, at 5:00pm. Download the application form here: WV Historic Theatre Trail Application.
The West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail is a statewide thematic tour of 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. Currently encompassing 24 theaters across 17 of West Virginia’s 55 counties, 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.
The American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service in Washington, DC, has opened its 2016 grants competition. The ABPP awards grants for preservation projects that lead to the permanent protection of endangered battlefield lands. Projects that involve multiple stakeholders are given preference.
Who May Apply?
Non-profit groups, academic institutions, and local, regional, state, and tribal governments
Project areas must be on American soil and/or within U.S. territorial waters.
1 ) Battlefields – occurred between two opposing military organizations or forces recognized as such by their respective cultures (not civil unrest).
2) Associated Sites – Sites occupied before, during, or after a battle at which events occurred that had a direct influence on the tactical development of the battle or the outcome of the battle. A site must be associated with a battle in order to be considered an Associated Site.
Eligible Project Types
Eligible project types include, but are not limited to, the following.
Site Identification and Documentation Projects
– Historical research
– Archeological surveys and cultural landscape inventories
– Nominations to the National Register of Historic Places
– GIS/GPS mapping
Planning and Consensus Building Projects
– Acquisition, strategic, and preservation plans
– Studies of land related to, or adjacent to, publicly owned and protected battlefield lands
– Management, landscape, and stabilization plans
– Interpretation plans
– Preservation advocacy and consensus building within a community
Interpretation or Education Projects
– Brochures stressing preservation
– Interpretive programs stressing preservation techniques
– Sign development and design
All project applications must clearly demonstrate that the proposed activity will contribute directly to the preservation of battlefield land or an associated site. Grant funds may be used to procure professional services, equipment, and supplies necessary to conduct the proposed project.
None required, although applications that include matching funds and in-kind donations will be given preference.
No minimum or maximum. The average award amount is $32,300, although the ABPP has awarded grants beyond $100,000.
January 14, 2016 by 4 pm, EST. For paper submissions, applications must be hand stamped in by 4 pm (post marks and delivery receipts not accepted after deadline). For Grants.gov submissions, applications must be uploaded and submitted by 4 pm, EST.
The 2016 guidelines and application form are available online at www.Grants.gov (click on the “Search Grants Tab” along the top. Then search by our CDFA # 15.926 on the left) and www.nps.gov/abpp/grants/planninggrants.htm.
For more information about ABPP grants, or to receive paper copies of the guidelines and application, please contact Kristen McMasters, ABPP Grants Manager, at 202-354-2037 or Kristen_McMasters@nps.gov.
$3 Million in Short-Term Planning Assistance Available to Coal-impacted Communities under the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) InitiativeThe U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced the availability of $3 million in planning assistance to communities impacted, or which may be impacted, by contractions in the coal economy. These funds are made available as part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a new interagency effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.
Economic changes often result in job loss and other concrete negative impacts, but can also generate mounting concerns about perceptions of uncertainty and risk in the regional economy. One of the first critical steps that communities need to take is to build a cohesive strategy for how they will adapt to these changes. Effective planning creates a road map which practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders can use to identify and take the actionable steps necessary to realize their desired economic vision. These new planning funds will support the bottom-up strategies developed by the local communities.
Successful applications will enable affected communities to develop detailed strategies to: diversify their economies, create jobs in new or existing industries, attract new sources of job-creating investment, and/or how to provide a range of workforce services that result in industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.
Successful applications may also include projects that explore the feasibility of specific economic development diversification projects, entrepreneurship promotion, or assessments to provide community stakeholders key asset and impact information from which to conduct future strategic planning.
Funding will be available until expended or until September 30, 2015.
To apply for this funding, please follow instructions included within the Planning and Local Technical Assistance FFO and the addendum.
For additional information, please contact your EDA state representative.
The Mt. Wood Cemetery Restoration Project is participating in the Amazing Raise Ohio Valley, a 24-hour online giving challenge sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. This giving day will take place TODAY, Tuesday, May 5, and we really hope you will participate! The minimum gift is only $10!! The money you donate goes to supporting this important project – like hiring monument companies to reset the large obelisks that have fallen, buying supplies for our monthly volunteer workdays, and going forward, restoring the 10 mausoleums that are found within the cemetery. You can make your donation here: https://www.giveov.org//#npo/wheeling-national-heritage-area
This past year has been a great one for this old cemetery located off National Road and overlooking the city of Wheeling. It is the City’s oldest cemetery and has been a victim to its topography (gravity) and heavily vandalized in years past. We have had a very successful past two years working in the cemetery — resetting 11 large obelisks, leveling and resetting over 100 smaller monuments and gravestones and cleaning hundreds more!
But, we still need your help! There are still hundreds of gravestones that need our attention! This work can only continue through the generosity of donors like you!!!
By Alex, PAWV VISTA
As my one year VISTA term comes to an end this week, this will be my last blog post for PAWV. What a year it has been!
I joined PAWV in April 2014. We were off to a running start with conference planning for our 2014 Conference in Huntington, WV. I helped set up our small, #3 office to a functional work space as I learned the ropes and started traveling to some of PAWV’s sites.
Our AmeriCorps member, Rodney, moved on in August and 2014-2015’s AmeriCorps member, Nicole joined our little team. Nicole’s first term started in September.
After the conference we focused on fundraising and I helped start the “On the Road” photo campaign and implemented the miles fundraiser for the end of the year. I also completed my research on the Historic Preservation Development Grants and wrote a full report on its funding. Hopefully, that will be used for future historic preservation advocacy.
The new year brought more things to do. We started the process of choosing a location for the 2015 awards banquet and my hometown of Grafton, WV won in the the online vote. This year’s awards banquet will be held September 19, 2015 at the historic B & O Train Depot in downtown Grafton. I look forward to attending.
Once we had our small #3 Darden office set up and running, we realized that we needed more space! So in March, we packed up our stuff and moved down the hall into office #4, with more space for our files and second desk for our other staff members.
With the growing need for advocacy and attention on West Virginia’s historic buildings, we started the Buildings At Risk Register (B.A.R.R.). We have already begun listing buildings on it and I’m excited to see it take off. It’s great to see Preservation Alliance of West Virginia growing even in the one year I have been here and I hope to see it continue to thrive as I participate as a member. I will always have a special place in my heart for the Darden House at 421 Davis Avenue.
News and Notes
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