Architecture, at its best, creates an environment that is both functional and beautiful. In a world devoid of any concern for aesthetics, we lose our ability to revel in the beauty that surrounds us, confounds us, and inspires us. I spend a lot of my time looking up and around, enjoying the built and natural environment. This is how I’ve come to know that Wheeling, WV is the right place for me. If you’ve never visited Wheeling, you’re missing out on an architectural gem. Throughout my time in the Friendly City, I have never lived in any building younger than 100 years old.
My name is Kellie White, and I am a historic preservationist in training. I am originally from Virginia Beach, VA. I moved to Fairfax, VA in 2012 to pursue my undergraduate degree at George Mason University. I completed my BA in Art History and Anthropology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies in 2016. After I graduated, in the Fall of 2016, I decided to move to Wheeling and attend Belmont College to study Building Preservation.
Except I didn’t always want to study historic preservation; it took me a while to reach that decision! During middle and high school I was a dedicated musician, and I wholeheartedly believed I would study music. And yet I entered college as an Environmental Studies major. In retrospect, I see that I started down this path in high school. Mrs. Reich’s AP Art History was the most influential class I took in high school; it eventually lead me to study a combination of Art History and Anthropology in college. And Art History lead to the greatest summer of my life.
During the summer of 2014, I was offered to opportunity to study archaeology and preservation at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. I spent that time smeared in dirt and happier than I could have imagined. There’s something mesmerizing about interacting with history in such a gritty, substantial way. That summer was decisive in determining the path I have traveled for the past 2 years. That summer is when I learned about Belmont College and its hands-on Building Preservation program; it planted the seed for where I am now. In my current Plaster course, I am learning to “run” a cornice and cast the decorative elements in plaster.
I currently attend Belmont College studying Building Preservation, and I am immersed in the Wheeling community. I am a board member of the Wheeling Young Preservationist, a group of like-minded individuals who take stock of preservation activities and needs within our community. I am also a member of the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commision; we help encourage creativity in Wheeling. I take pride in my community, in our community. I want to see tangible change in Wheeling, in the whole of West Virginia. This is why I’ve chosen to serve as the Americorps member for the West Virginia Association of Museums.
By preserving and educating others about our communal heritage, I hope to help us all recognize the humanity we share. Museums are a space to explore this cultural inheritance.. Standing in a museum, examining a display, for a moment we are sharing an experience. We are all being presented the same information, being confronted with the same truths, being shown our heritage and history. Have you ever experienced wonder or delight in a museum, standing in front of a painting, a historic flag, or a suit of armor? I have. I hope that feeling never fades. Through my service at the West Virginia Association of Museums, I aim to encourage people to visit museums, to experience that wonder, and to bond over our communal heritage.
Preserve WV Stories