On August 22, I attended a meeting between alumni and administration of Salem International University (SIU) to discuss the possibility of preserving the old Administration Building. The Administration Building was built in 1910 in the Collegiate Gothic style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Salem International University president, Dan Nelant, opened the day by discussing the current status and future goals of the university. He related that the university’s stance on the old Administration Building is that while they do not want to see the building demolished, they do not have a current use for it. They cannot direct any resources to preserving the building due to the needs of the current students and programs. Next, local architectural firm, WYK Associates, Inc., presented a condition and prognosis report of the Administration Building. James Swiger, WYK President, voiced concern over the building’s basement, theater balcony, and roof, and estimated the building’s restoration costs to be $3-4 million. Many in the room thought demolition might be the better option after listening to WYK’s assessment. People suggested using the building’s bricks to create a memorial park on the site.
After the campus walking tour and lunch, everyone reconvened for a brainstorming session about possibilities for the Administration Building. I took advantage of this time to explain the economic benefits of historic preservation to the group. I also recommended that the SIU administration have a historic building assessment done before any major decisions were made, and I suggested that it could be mothballed for added security and stabilization. I provided a set of handouts on the issues I discussed so that the alumni and administration could do further research. Additionally during the afternoon session, suggestions were made for the future use of the building. A popular idea was an emergency/urgent care clinic for Salem that could potentially staffed by SIU nursing students. Another idea thrown around was transferring ownership of the Administration Building to the Salem University Foundation or a different nonprofit to handle the preservation of the building. Overall, the discussion gradually moved away from demolition as a solution, and another meeting has been scheduled for October between SIU administration and alumni to continue the conversation.
The meeting was a good first step regarding the fate of SIU’s old Administration Building. Demolition is off the table for now. It’s up to the greater community of Salem and SIU alumni to continue the dialog and think positively on the possibilities for the building’s use.
The Morgantown History Museum is located at 175 Kirk Street in Morgantown and is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For questions call (304) 319-1800, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website http://www.morgantownhistorymusuem.org.
The Old Hemlock Foundation is located at 17098 Brandonville Pike, P. O. Box 69 in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. They can be contacted at (304) 379-7505, email@example.com or http://www.oldhemlock.org.
These young men partnered with me to promote the historical society’s events and volunteered for our WV Writers event and Small Museum Exhibit workshop. Furthermore, they helped me round up more college-age people for my first major volunteer event with the HCWVHS. We sponsored a clean-up day at the Stealey-Goff-Vance House in October, and Donald brought a small army of WVU ROTC Silver Wings members to accomplish this task. Even though their semester of service was over in December, Donald and Jordan continue to volunteer for the HCWVHS. Our board of directors was so pleased with our fall semester C S & L students that we participated in the program for the spring semester.
During the spring, the HCWVHS and I presented two school activities to get young people engaged with local history. Michael Spatafore brought his fifth graders from Northview Elementary School for a tour of the Vance House in April. After we divided the students into two groups, my site supervisor, Carol Schweiker, took one group and discussed the house’s first owner, Jacob Stealey, and his role as a tanner in Clarksburg. I then led a conversation on what museum artifacts can tell us about the past, and then the students identified the uses of ten artifacts from our museum. The students had a great time figuring out what the artifacts were and playfully debated with their classmates about the uses of the items. They also asked a lot of great questions about our historic house and the collection.
In May, I presented a school activity using the letters and photographs of a WWII veteran, Richard Criswell, from the HCWVHS archives. Ms. Meese’s Liberty High School students divided into groups, and each group had a folder of primary source documents from Richard Criswell’s life. After exploring the report cards, letters, and newspaper clippings, the students recounted facts about Richard. The students really enjoyed the activity especially the twist ending about what eventually happened to him. Ms. Meese and the students also supplied excellent feedback on how to improve the activity. Over the summer, the HCWVHS is contacting several Harrison County social studies teachers to ask about incorporating both school activities sometime during the next school year.
Lastly, I recruited our youngest volunteer for the HCWVHS in June. The majority of my day-to-day volunteers were women of retirement age until Ms. Meese suggested that I bring one of her students on as a volunteer. I agreed to take her on, and I initially had a hard time coming up with duties that a teenager would find enjoyable. Accessioning photographs and postcards is not exactly the most exciting activity. However, after our first meeting, Shelley (*name has been changed) became excited about putting her art skills to work with our War Remembrances exhibit and tie-dying shirts for the HCWVHS Veterans’ Memorial 5K. She even wants to attend our August lecture on Civil War medicine to possibly get some extra credit for her social studies class. I believe Shelley now understands that doing history can be fun and it’s not just what you read about in a textbook.
Overall, the HCWVHS made significant strides toward more youth involvement during my service year. Our plans for youth-oriented history activities for 2015-2016 are even more ambitious. Our dedication to the next generation will continue the legacy of the Harrison County WV Historical Society and the preserve of history of the area.
By Devin, Preserve WV AmeriCorps
Working with Teresa Quinn’s fourth grade class from Bruceton Mills Elementary and Middle School, Old Hemlock has shown its ability to reach out into the community and build meaningful partnerships with its neighbors. After the class had read The Great Kapok Tree, a story in which a logger is persuaded by animals in a dream to spare a rainforest from destruction, Old Hemlock made a visit to the school and told the students the story of how George Bird Evans had done a similar thing in the children’s own neighborhood, buying back a large stand of old growth virgin hemlocks from a logging company; a beautiful forest that still stands today on the grounds of the Old Hemlock nature preserve. We also introduced the children to all the different kinds of animals that call Old Hemlock home during that meeting – those critters who would be talking to the slumbering logger in his dreams. Then, over the next few weeks, the fourth graders wrote their own story, each child taking a different animal, coloring a picture of it and writing the dialogue it would have with a logger who had come to tear down its home. Once the text and illustrations were complete, we returned to the school to help the students take pictures of their animals in front of a background depicting the actual forest which was saved by Evans. With all the photos taken and the written texts collected, we worked with West Virginia University to get enough copies printed and collated for each child to take one home.
Please enjoy the copy of their book we have included here:
By Joe, Preserve WV AmeriCorps
They stand as silent sentinels; reminders of our past. The historic buildings in the Heritage Area of Jackson’s Mill remain from that past to allow current and future generations to better understand their collective history. The Farmstead – as it is unofficially referred to – tells the story of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century of West(ern) Virginia, as well as the formative years of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. His is a story of overcoming adversity, and young man’s commitment to better himself despite difficult circumstances.
For years, the story of the Jackson’s was not shared at Jackson’s Mill; that is until Around the turn of the twentieth century, a regional railway service ran a trolley line, which featured a stop near the historic Jackson’s Mill. The public could visit the boyhood home of the man known as “Stonewall” and could walk the grounds or picnic there on pleasant days. It was here that in 1921, the state of West Virginia forever linked the story of one youth who overcame adversity with the development of untold thousands of others; when Jackson’s Mill was selected as the permanent site for the first state 4-H camp in the world!
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of Camping in West Virginia 4-H, and although Jackson’s Mill as a 4-H site is not quite so old, it will see tremendous celebration throughout the camping season. As a result, the time is ideal for the development of a volunteer program in the Heritage Area, and on April 25th, we took the first steps.
Although Jackson’s Mill as a site is quite busy throughout the year with various camps and other groups who rent various buildings in the mill for conferences with a sizable staff, the staff at the Farmstead and in Heritage Programming consists of a Program Specialist and one historian, who cover both on-site and outreach programs. This has been augmented with the assistance of an AmeriCorps Member, but we still struggle to meet the programming mission and our role in the West Virginia University Extension Service under which we operate. In addition, meeting this mission often leaves many of our historic buildings and the physical site in desperate want of attention. So I determined that we should organize a workday dedicated the buildings and site, as a whole.
After welcoming them, I described the work we intended to get done that day: cleaning the historic buildings – we have four of them altogether and redoing the planting beds in our Heritage Garden. We quickly divided the group and set out to work – the first task: to clean our two pioneer cabins. It went surprisingly quick. The volunteers were far more enthusiastic and energized than I could have hoped. In less than 2 hours, we had two buildings completely cleaned, and both groups decided to work on getting the Heritage Garden done. This was completed in about another hour and a half. As we continued to work on this task, both of the 4-H mothers asked if they could move on to another building. While the rest of us worked to finish the garden beds, they moved onto our water-powered gristmill. All of this was completed by a little after 1 in the afternoon; at which point, we broke for lunch, which we had provided down in our store. All that remained was one final building to clean. Unfortunately, the weather that had been threatening all afternoon finally turned. I decided that instead of asking the volunteers to stay and risk traveling back home in worse weather, that they should make their way home. This left only one building for “Gabby” and myself to finish.
As they left, I thanked the volunteers for selflessly giving of their time and energy. They were a small group, admittedly, but they were a cross-section of ages, and all of them willingly gave up their Saturday to come in and help us. I told them that while it may only appear to have been some gardening and spring cleaning in our buildings, it represented more than a week or two worth of time for “Gabby” and myself; time that we could now spend on other critical projects in the Heritage Area. I also told them that they were the first participants in what I intend to be a long-term commitment to utilizing volunteers in our programming and in helping to maintain our area. All of the volunteers mentioned that they would love to come and help us again, and would encourage more people to join them in the future. I am still truly humbled that these people came to help, although, it is not because of me that they came necessarily. In many ways, I merely offered them the opportunity to become involved with, and take ownership of their history and they seized on that opportunity. I believe that young Thomas would have been proud of these people and their efforts, as am I.
Preservation Alliance of WV is currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Preserve WV AmeriCorps program year.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is a statewide program administered by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), the statewide nonprofit organization promoting historic preservation in the Mountain State. The purpose of the Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is to implement historic preservation and heritage tourism projects throughout West Virginia by way of historic resource re-use, improvement, development, and interpretation. Members’ service will focus on economic development through historic resource improvement, nonprofit organizational capacity building, heritage tourism development, historic preservation, and environmental stewardship. Volunteer management and community engagement are other important facets of the program.
Preserve WV AmeriCorps members will be placed with an individual site throughout the state of West Virginia. Program start date is August 31, 2015. All members are expected to serve for 11 ½ to 12 months with full-time members serving 1750 hours and half-time members serving 950 hours.
AmeriCorps site locations include Beckley, Morgantown, Wheeling, Fairmont, Ripley, Shepherdstown, and more. For a full list of sites and position descriptions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To begin the application process, either send your:
Resume, cover letter, and three references with contact information, emailed directly to email@example.com, including which interest areas appeal to you and why you think this AmeriCorps position would be a good fit for you. Please give us multiple ways to contact you, especially if your email access is not reliable.
Complete the AmeriCorps application, submitted to PAWV through http://www.americorps.gov web site. (http://www.americorps.gov/for_individuals/ready/index.asp) Alternatively, you can do the AmeriCorps application later if you are selected for interview. A cover letter must be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
By James, Preserve WV AmeriCorps serving at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum
Recently, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum received a donation from local resident Jim Schmitt that sparked wonder and imagination into Shepherdstown’s past. The donation was of two baseball gloves and a jersey that read “Red Sox” on the front. These were left over treasures of the Shepherdstown Red Sox, a black baseball team that operated from the 1930’s until the late 1960’s. The donation not only impressed and awed the members of HSC, but also pointed out a dire problem facing the museum. While the museum has operated since the 1970’s and the various hands that have run it did their best to represent the history of Shepherdstown as a whole, there was no real representation of the African American community in the museum.
The baseball team items seemed like a perfect opportunity to address this problem head on and started a wave of interest and activity in order to bring this important part of the history into the museum. To do this initial research on the baseball team was done through pulling out an article that was published in 1986 that summarized the history of the team. But interestingly enough there were people living today who could remember the Red Sox playing in Shepherdstown. Since the ’86 article was the only bit of history found at the time, a project emerged in order to get the stories of the black community and the baseball team’s role in it, oral histories.
HSC decided to partner with Shepherd University’s Keith Alexander who ran an oral history class at Shepherd and allow the students to contact these people to hear their stories and memories. Finding members of the community who were old enough to remember the Red Sox and willing to participate was challenging for the students who decided to then expand their search to the African American community in Jefferson County. The oral histories were presented at a HSC event this past month and the histories will soon be passed over to the university archives, HSC archives, and the Jefferson County Historical Society archives.
In a recent development, two former players of the Red Sox agreed to step forward and be interviewed for the project. Reverend Charles Hunter and Clarence Branson had both played on the Red Sox in the 1960’s and were born and raised in Shepherdstown. In an hour and half interview they recounted stories of playing for the team, the sense of community felt in the town, and the discrimination they had experienced in their lifetimes. The stories were very helpful and incredibly interesting. Both men also still have their uniforms from playing and are willing to lend them to HSC for use in their display. The African American and Shepherdstown Red Sox display is still likely to be ready several months in the future, a lot of the initial research has been made possible by the truly amazing stories told through the oral history project.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. To learn more about AmeriCorps see www.americorps.gov. The PreserveWV AmeriCorps program is sponsored by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service: www.volunteerwv.org/
This AmeriCorps program is funded in part by a grant from Volunteer WV, the State’s Commission for National and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteer WV encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their community.
WHAT’S WILD? WHAT’S WONDERFUL? WHAT PRODUCES AMERICORPS? WEST VIRGINIA ANNOUNCED AS TOP 5 #AMERISTATES
As part of National Volunteer Week, Volunteer West Virginia announced today that West Virginia ranks 5th among states for citizens enrolled in AmeriCorps per capita, according to new data released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program and leads the nation’s national service and volunteer programs.
“Volunteers are at the heart of our state’s communities, and AmeriCorps members are an indispensable resource for a number of West Virginians across the state,” said Governor Tomblin. “Citizen service is an essential part of solving many of the challenges West Virginia and our nation face, and AmeriCorps members unite people to support a common goal. I’m grateful for the West Virginians and those around the country who have answered the call to serve one another through AmeriCorps.”
Since AmeriCorps began 20 years ago, West Virginia has produced nearly 11,000 members who have given more than 17 million hours of service to their communities. This year, more than 1000 members will serve in communities across West Virginia. The program allows volunteers to make a difference while obtaining real-life education and work experience.
“I remember them saying in one of our trainings that one year in AmeriCorps is compared to ten years in the workplace. AmeriCorps has given me the opportunity to decide what I want to do with my future,” said Richelle Pugh LifeBridge AmeriCorps Member.
“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said WendySpencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Building on West Virginia’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members from West Virginia will improve lives and strengthen communities across the nation. I salute all the AmeriCorps members from West Virginia for their dedication, and thank our outstanding partners who make their service possible.”
AmeriCorps West Virginia is currently seeking members for 2015-2016. Discover your future in service. To learn more visit http://www.volunteerwv.org .
Volunteer West Virginia is the state’s Commission for National and Community Service. The agency challenges West Virginians to strengthen their communities through service and volunteerism by identifying and mobilizing resources, promoting an ethic of service, and empowering communities to solve problems and improve the quality of life for individuals and families.
We GROw, Inc. (Winding Gulf Restoration Organization), the non-profit organization for the Helen community of Raleigh County, is in the process of obtaining a historic property. An apartment building dating to the 1920’s represents Helen’s role in the heyday of coal mining. Helen remains one of the last surviving intact coal communities of the Winding Gulf Coalfield. The apartment building is a historic staple of the community, and once restored it can potentially be an important resource for community and the public. Helen is situated along the Coal Heritage Highway – a project of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.
On April 11th volunteers will come together to clean the building of debris. Volunteers will also help to architecturally mothball the structure to protect it from vandalism and the weather. The Planned activities will make a big impact on the community by preventing vandalism and improving its visual appearance. The project is a collaboration of We GROw, The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), National Coal Heritage Area Authority, The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, The Raleigh County Commission, and The Raleigh County Office – West Virginia State University Extension Service
We GROw, a fully registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, was founded in 2004 and has accomplished many positive outcomes in the community; including development of a park and the installation of a Coal Miner’s Memorial. Cleaning and boarding up this building is their next improvement effort. You can find more information about WeGROw on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WeGROwWV .
Two Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps (PAWV) members Tiffany Rakotz and Nicole Marrocco have been working to organize volunteers and logistics for the project. To learn more about The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia visit their website at http://www.pawv.org/
To volunteer or ask questions please contact Preserve WV AmeriCorps Member Tiffany Rakotz at (734) 787-6784 or email@example.com
The Morgantown History Museum has been selected to participate in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP). Through guided self-study and on-site consultation with a museum professional, participation in MAP will empower the Morgantown History Museum to provide better services to the citizens of Morgantown. This will help the museum to meet and exceed the highest professional standards.
The program is funded by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and throughout its 30 years has been administered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). As part of the IMLS National Leadership program, MAP advances best practices and fosters improvement in museums. MAP is a self-motivated program; application to and participation in MAP is initiated by each local institution, and those accepted invest considerable human and institutional resources into the assessment.
The Morgantown History Museum is excited to grow and expand from within in order to better serve the needs of the community. Coordinator, Pamela Ball expressed her gratitude and comments, “We have progressed quite a bit in the last three years in particular. The change from the tiny operating space upstairs and our current facility has made all the difference!” Our commission, staff, friends of the Morgantown History Museum, and volunteers will work together to strengthen the museum in order to have a brighter and more successful future.
MAP is a confidential process of self-study, peer review and implementation. Museums use the assessment process to strengthen operations, build capacity, and enhance communication throughout the organization and in response to community needs. Participant museums choose one of three categories for its assessment: Collections Stewardship Organizational, Community Engagement. The Morgantown History Museum will take part in the organizational assessment process. Small and mid-sized museums of all types, including art, history, science and technology, children’s, natural history, historic houses, nature centers, botanical gardens, and zoos participate in the program.
“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of the Morgantown History Museum,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”
Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served over 4,300 museums. MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement with IMLS. For more information, including a complete list of museums participating in MAP, please visit www.aam-us.org/map, call 202/289-9118 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAM is the only organization representing the nation’s entire museum community and has been dedicated to promoting excellence within the museum field for over 100 years. For more information about AAM, visit www.aam-us.org. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov.
The Morgantown History Museum is located at 175 Kirk Street in Morgantown, West Virginia. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum features collections that take visitors through the history of Morgantown. The museum also features special temporary exhibits focusing on particular aspects of local history. For any further questions visit our website morgantownhistorymuseum.org or call at (304) 319-1800.
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