After almost ten years of tireless fundraising, Friends of Happy Retreat acquired the property and have protected the site from residential development. Like many preservation projects, this was made possible through effective partnering, as well as generous donations. Last December, the City of Charles Town and Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to work together to purchase the 12.2-acre property. The City agreed to purchase 10 acres of land, which it will include in a planned linear park along Evitts Run in Charles Town’s West End. Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to purchase the house, historic outbuildings, and the 2.2 acres of remaining land. The Happy Retreat grounds will also connect to existing City of Charles Town park and recreational lands, as part of an overall Charles Town initiative to revitalize the community’s west end.
We are celebrating this acquisition today but please remember that funds are still needed to preserve and re-use the property for an educational facility.
Renowned architect Charles W. Bates designed the ten-story masonry structure in 1922. The building contains typical characteristics of early 20th century commercial architecture with a slender rectangular floor plan, a uniform and logical façade with the dramatic fenestration accenting its verticality. The open floor plan is constructed with formed in place concrete columns, beams, and floor slabs. The exterior is accented with several types of brick coursing along with limestone accent banding and other details along the cornice.
Since tenants occupied the building during the renovation, the project was completed in multiple phases. The first phase included an exterior restoration where the façade brick and limestone accents were cleaned and restored; and the exposed steel lintels at the windows and door openings were recoated and/or replaced. New insulated double-hung windows and trim matching the size, scale and color of the originals replaced the 1970s bronze aluminum single glazed windows. Once the new windows were installed, the architect’s original design intent expressing the strong contrast between the brick veneer and fenestration once again became prominent.
The final phase of the project included improving site conditions with new landscaping, paving and parking lot control.
Though the building serves multiple tenants, the building primarily functions as the corporate headquarters for a national roofing company that employs nearly 80 personnel.
Other businesses recognized for their efforts in this project include:
The rehabilitation of the Kaley Center has dramatically improved the skyline of Wheeling and has fostered an interest in the continuing revitalization of other historic buildings in the downtown.
The Clio as it is called guides the public to thousands of historical and cultural sites throughout the United States. Built by scholars for public benefit, each entry includes a concise summary and useful information about a historical site, museum, monument, landmark, or other site of cultural or historical significance. In addition, “time capsule” entries allow users to learn about historical events that occurred around them. Each entry offers turn-by-turn directions as well as links to relevant books, articles, videos, primary sources, and credible websites.
The Stewardship Award was presented to a project known for utilizing best practices in historic preservation and archaeology. Since this project’s inception, the utmost care has been taken in the stewardship of this property. The Cockayne Farmstead Preservation Project in Glen Dale, WV is the recipient of the first-ever Stewardship Award. Present to accept the award was the newest staff person for the Farmstead, Caitlin Hucik.
WYP is currently in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit in West Virginia and pursuing 501(c)(3) status. Currently, a six-person steering committee serves as the point persons for different initiatives happening or in the works: the Blue Church, cemeteries, organizational structure, marketing and social media, workshops, and lovescaping.
Her interior work includes installation of a new stage floor, installation of interior storm windows and other energy efficiency projects, updating the heating and cooling system, replacement of carpeting, remodeling of the toilets, major developments to the sound and lighting systems, and constant painting. Perhaps most importantly, she will leave a legacy of a maintenance plan and careful documentation of all the work that was done under her leadership, as well as beneficial working relationships with the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, numerous foundations, the Greenbrier County Commission, and the Lewisburg City Council.
Congratulations, Susan! Thank you for your hard work!
By Rachael, VISTA
The Blennerhassett Island, located in Parkersburg, WV, was discovered by Harman Blennerhassett in 1798 where he settled on the wild and wonderful island and built a magnificent mansion. The Blennerhassett Mansion became known during its time as the most beautiful home in the Ohio Valley. It was an extremely elegant estate with interior furnishings and paintings from all over the world as well as beautiful lawns and flower gardens.
Unfortunately, the magnificence of the Blennerhassett haven proved to be tragically short lived and in 1811, the mansion burned to the ground leaving only legend behind. The 1984 reconstruction of the estate began by the State of West Virginia and today Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park has over 50,000 visitors a year.
Today, visitors to the island start the tour with a relaxing ride aboard the Island Belle Sternwheeler. Almost every day of the week, visitors to Parkersburg, W.Va., can find the sternwheeler waiting to depart from Point Park to take them to the island.
Once on the island, there are countless activities to enjoy! Volunteers in costume are available to conduct tours throughout the mansion. Horse drawn carriage rides are also available as a way to tour the charming island. Aside from the mansion itself, the nature and landscape of the island is delightful as well. Hardwood groves, long beaches and broad fields provide the perfect habitat for countless varieties of wildlife and make for a wonderful day hike around the island.
Blennerhassett Island also features several unique events for visitors to enjoy all year round. This October, for two nights only, the island is adorned with hundreds of candles, and electricity is banished. The mansion and the island are transformed into a flame-lit world of the 18th-century where the Blennerhassetts are hosting a party on the island. It is an enchanting evening filled with music, 18th-century dancing, and countless other activities on the island. While on the island, plan to take a horse-drawn wagon ride, visit the gift shop, or warm yourself by an inviting bonfire. Reservations are required for this event. Relaxing fall Dinner Cruises and Sunday Brunches with Margaret Blennerhassett are also popular and enjoyable events for guests.
Plan a trip to the Mid-Ohio Valley and come see the Historic Blennerhassett Island State Park!
For more about the history of the island: http://www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com/mansion.html
Plan a trip! – http://www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com/location.html
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