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
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 email@example.com 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.
The students worked to document the process of cleaning and mothballing the historic apartment building in Helen, West Virginia. They donated their time and efforts to put together a documentary that has a future as a teaching tool as well as a way to spread awareness of historic preservation efforts in the state of West Virginia. Three high definition video cameras were deployed during the project, including the creative use of time lapsed photography to help illustrate the pulse and dynamics of the project. They eagerly incorporated drone photographs and video taken of the project area to add a cutting edge technology feature to the filming, as well as archival footage of the Helen community. Various leaders in the project and volunteers were interviewed to add perspective and depth to the film production.
Abandoned and dilapidated buildings have become a large problem for the state during the decline of the coal industry over the last 40 or more years, but some historic structures from the coal boom still remain intact and are worthy of adaptive reuse across Southern West Virginia. With the effort put forth by Liberty High School’s Fine Arts Department, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia now has another means of spreading awareness of historic preservation and its best practices. On April 10th and 11th Rodriguez and students captured on film the clean- up work of 33 volunteers from throughout the state who had come together. Volunteers cleared out 6.31 tons of debris from inside the apartment house. Vegetation and trash were collected from around the outside of the building to improve its outer appearance as well. The first floor windows were covered with plywood panels as part of the mothballing process. They were designed and built by The Preservation Alliance’s full-time employee Lynn Stasick and AmeriCorps member Nicole Morocco.
The 2015 Landscape Restoration Award went to the City of Beckley for the Alfred Beckley Mill Project. Beckley City Council member and Raleigh County Historic Society President, Tom Sopher and Gary Morefield, President of the Raleigh County Cycle Club and active volunteer in building the trail system around the mill site and Piney Creek watershed accepted the award.
In 2013, National Park Service cultural resource agent, David Fuerst, produced an archaeological study of a mill site along Piney Creek in Raleigh County. His report found a connection between the mill site and Alfred Beckley the founder of Beckley, WV, his homestead, Wildwood House, as well as Greenwood Cemetery. Fuerst explained that there is an entire network of cultural resources and a history of Beckley that hasn’t been told yet. It is also a history of how people lived and how all of these sites are connected. Although, Fuerst published the report, he gives ownership of the idea to the late Beckley Historian, Jim Wood.
Adopting a true historic preservation ethos, The City of Beckley and the Beckley Historic Landmarks Commission jumped on the chance to learn more about the site and preserve it. They have adopted plans to place the mill in the National register of Historic Places and turn the mill area surrounding the Piney Creek Watershed into a public park. A road is being paved to the park and volunteers have been building trails around the grounds.
The Preservation Alliance of WV, the statewide non-profit organization dedicated to historic preservation honored preservationists from across the state during the 7th Annual Historic Preservation Awards Banquet in downtown Grafton on September 19. “Each year, the statewide banquet is held in a different historic venue in West Virginia, and Grafton was selected after a tremendous show of support for the location during a social media contest in 2014,” explained Danielle LaPresta Parker, executive director for the Alliance. This year’s banquet and dinner were held at the International Mother’s Day Shrine followed by a banquet dinner catered by Gibson Gourmet with keynote speaker, Nikki Bowman, of New South Media, Inc.
During the event, the Preservation Alliance Board of Directors President, Sandra Scaffidi, presented fourteen historic preservation awards along with three grant awards to preservation projects across the state.
See photos from the event at the online album HERE.
The 2015 Historic Preservation Award Winners are:
Archaeology Award – Jamie Vosvick for his commitment in volunteering to the preservation of the Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale.
Most Significant Save of an Endangered Site – Friends of Happy Retreat for the acquisition of Happy Retreat in Charles Town. It was listed as an Endangered Site in 2010.
Heritage Tourism Award – Dr. David Trowbride, professor at Marshall University, for the Clio, a smart phone application that connects people to historic places while traveling.
Best Use of Historic Tax Credits – GJR Enterprises for the advantageous use of Historic Tax Credits in the adaptive re-use of the Riley Law Building and the development of the Kaley Center in Wheeling.
Media Award – Liberty School Fine Arts program for the Helen Apartment Building Restoration video.
Landscape Preservation Award – City of Beckley for the Alfred Beckley Mill Project and preserving the landscape for future projects including a National Register Nomination and the development of a city park.
Downtown Preservation Award – International Mother’s Day Shrine for multiple preservation and adaptive re-use projects in downtown Grafton, including the Manos Theater and International Mother’s Day Shrine.
Community Preservation Award – Wheeling Young Preservationists for their role in preserving downtown Wheeling preservation projects including the annual lovescaping awareness campaign held in February, their efforts in preserving the Blue Church and Mt. Wood Cemetery, and preservation trades educational workshops presented to students of all ages.
Preservation Achievement (Person) – Susan Adkins, Executive Director of Carnegie Hall, for her commitment to developing cultural heritage tourism and preserving the historic theater in downtown Lewisburg.
Preservation Achievement (Building) – Adaland Mansion restoration project under the directorship of Dr. Ann Serafin.
Dr. Emory Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award – JoAnn Lough of Fairmont for her dedication to preserving Marion County history and presenting it through different educational forms to the public.
This year, the Alliance added two new award categories which also included cash awards to be used toward preservation projects. The cash awards were made possible because of an anonymous donor with strong beliefs in the value of historic preservation.
Preservation Persistence Award – Ella Belling, Elkins Coal and Coke Building in Masontown (2010 Endangered Properties List)
Preservation Persistence Award – Holt Barnitz, White House in Nicholas County (2015 Endangered Properties List)
Stewardship Award – Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale
Congratulations to this year’s historic preservation award winners. Stay tuned for inside looks at each of these projects and learn more about why they received their awards.
During the awards banquet, successful preservation projects from all over the state will be recognized and will receive awards, including Grafton’s own International Mother’s Day Shrine for its efforts in preserving Grafton’s Downtown. “We are very excited to have the banquet at the beautiful International Mother’s Day Shrine and for historic preservationists in Grafton to to show their stuff to a statewide audience,” explained Parker.
This year will be the first time the alliance hosts a live musical performance as part of the annual banquet, and they are bringing old-time musicians include West Virginia native, Jesse Milnes, Nate Druckenmiller, Ben Townsend, and Andy Fitzgibbon to the Manos Theater for a special benefit concert. “Part of the proceeds from each banquet ticket will go to the International Mother’s Day Shrine, owner of the Manos Theater, and will be used toward preserving historic properties in downtown Grafton.” Banquet tickets cost $60 per person or a table can be reserved for eight people at $500. “You also have the option of attending the concert only, as tickets are limited for the banquet dinner,” explained Parker. “Concert tickets cost $10 and all donations will be given to the Shrine.” So if you are unable to attend the banquet ceremony, you can head over to the Manos Theater at 9:00 p.m. for the concert and purchase your ticket at the ticket booth.
Tickets can be purchased online, or you can contact Danielle LaPresta Parker at 304-345-6005 for more information on how to reserve a spot. The Preservation Alliance of WV is the statewide nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation. To learn more, visit www.pawv.org.
Read the full Beckley Historic District Report
Beckley officials should follow established laws to save their city’s endangered downtown historic district, according to an assessment released by the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.
Though alterations have harmed the integrity of the district, the assessment identified multiple recommendations that should help protect its federal status as well as financing for future development.
The 27-page assessment performed by alliance staff and an AmeriCorps member over the last five months included a building-by-building review of the district and a review of the codes, bylaws, and guidelines that govern the Beckley Historic Landmarks Commission, the architectural board established to manage its development.
The alliance initiated the assessment after the downtown was added to the West Virginia Endangered Properties List. The declaration was the first in which the alliance had included an entire National Register historic district.
The declaration came after the State Historic Preservation Office warned that mounting alterations could trigger the district’s removal from the National Register of Historic Places — a warning that had been issued with growing intensity since alterations and demolitions began to occur in the late 1990s.
Thankfully the assessment found that city laws were in keeping with state enabling legislation and the standards set forth by the U.S. Department of the Interior and that adjustments to current laws would not be necessary.
There are no gray areas here, and saving the district will probably require only that the landmarks commission follow its laws and seek expert counsel when faced with questions.
As in many historic districts nationwide, alterations to building exteriors and public spaces such as those in downtown Beckley must be approved by a landmarks commission and provided a certificate of appropriateness.
Buildings in the downtown, many of which were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s, are to be returned to their original appearances, according to municipals laws enacted in the 1990s when the national historic district was established.
The assessment also includes case studies of practices in other historic districts in West Virginia and suggestions for preservation practices relevant to the architectural problems in the district.
The alliance recommends that downtown property owners organized through the Downtown Beckley Business Association work toward engaging the National Main Street Center in its effort to revitalize the district. Other cities across the U.S. have accomplished this, and we see no reason why Beckley officials cannot through due diligence achieve the same excellence.
The assessment includes information relevant to tax credits, preservation tips, and eco-friendly rehabilitation practices of which property owners should be aware.
Preservation Alliance would especially like to thank Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorps’ Nicole Marrocco for her efforts preparing the assessment. Marrocco’s position is made possible through an AmeriCorps state grant administered by Volunteer West Virginia and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Preservation Alliance would also like to thank the Downtown Beckley Business Association for requesting the assessment, and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office for providing input regarding the report.
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