The town of Belington, WV has worked to successfully preserve a major cultural asset: The Golden Rule building, a landmark structure built in 1902 and a reminder of the town’s flourishing commercial past. In 2014, The Golden Rule was identified as an endangered property by the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia due to years of deferred maintenance.
The Belington Revitalization Committee (BRC) identified the restoration of the Golden Rule building as a top priority for the community. It teamed up with Woodlands Development Group to fund stabilization, list the building on the National Register of Historic Places, and gradually rehabilitate it for redevelopment as a mixed-use building. Rehabilitation work began in 2018 after Woodlands Development Group procured the property, and has continued throughout the years.
The redevelopment of the former vacant Golden Rule is a major boost to the community of Belington, whose history is intertwined with the building. For nearly 100 years, the building was home to a grocery turned department store. Now, it has gained new life as affordable 1- and 2-bedroom apartments upstairs and will function as a community event space and possible business space on the first floor.
A community event was held in the newly opened building on May 22, 2021 to celebrate the successful rehabilitation project. Vendors interested in occupying the retail space should contact 304-823-1531, while apartment rental inquiries should be directed to 304-636-6495.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has announced that the Davis Coal and Coke Company Administrative Building just south of the historic River Street District of Thomas has been recognized as a significant endangered historic building for 2019.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011 because of its importance as the Tucker County headquarters of the company founded by legendary railroad and coal magnate Senator Henry Gassaway Davis from 1900 until 1950. The Alliance is adding it to the West Virginia Endangered Properties List because it has been sitting vacant since the 1980s and is structurally failing.
In 1995, the City of Thomas assumed the building and has been able to maintain the exterior walls and roof but not the structural problems inside the building. The Friends of Blackwater took an interest in the building and has partnered with the City of Thomas and Vandalia Heritage Foundation to seek additional funding. The future is looking bright. In July 2019, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office granted $29,100 to Vandalia Heritage to replace joists on the first floor and repair a structural wall in the building.
There are still many unknowns, and the Friends of Blackwater are looking to bring more attention to this important project by nominating it to the West Virginia Endangered Properties List. The current plan is for the City to enter into a long term lease with the Vandalia Heritage Foundation to redevelop the building, but no actuals plans are in place, making this project still unsecure. The Friends of Blackwater initiated this endangered properties recognition process on behalf of the City of Thomas and has solicited the assistance of the Preservation Alliance for historic preservation technical assistance, as well as applied for grant funding to develop an adaptive reuse plan for the building. The mostly likely redevelopment path for the building would be to have retail space on the main floor, with offices or residential space on the second floor and in the attic. You can donate to this project by visiting, https://saveblackwater.org/donate/.
Second Creek, Monroe County
Date of Construction: c. 1800
March 2019 Update: There continues to be a powerpost beetle problem and an excessive amount of silt in the mill pond. The owner has applied for grant funding to address maintenance issues and is working with an exterminator to address the powerpost beetles.
2018: Reed’s Mill, originally named “McDowell’s Mill” was constructed by Archibald McDowell. It is believed that the mill was constructed sometime between 1791 and 1837. The grist mill is historically significant because it provides insight into the pattern of settlement in the region and for its relationship with the pioneer McDowell family who built it and the Reed family who owned and operated the mill since 1914.
Second Creek has been called a power stream by those who have lived on it, and it is believed that at one time there were over 22 mills running along the Second Creek. However, Reed’s Mill is the only mill to remain in continuous operation since its construction. In 1992, Larry Mustain became owner of the mill, and he and his son, still work the mill producing two varieties of high quality buckwheat flour. Until recently, the water-powered turbine mill derived its power from Second Creek, but today the mill is electrically operated and also houses a broom-making shop. The mill is located about a mile down Second Creek Road off US 219.
Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County
Date of Construction: 1884
Threat: Deterioration, Pests
March 2019 Update: The Harpers Ferry Foundation is looking forward to several hands-on projects in the spring and summer 2019 while fundraising for a new roof. In the past six months, the volunteer group have created a handsome new display case sign for the building and cleaned the sanctuary of biohazards (pigeon droppings).
2017: The First Zion Baptist Church is a contributing building in the Harpers Ferry Historic District. It is located on West Ridge Street behind the Harpers Ferry Town Hall. The church’s African-American congregation built the church, which was a keystone meeting place for the community that developed around Strorer College (a historically black college). The church was not only used for worship but was also an educational facility and gathering place over the years.
After the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. The Board of Education, the West Virginia Legislature stopped funding Storer College and shifted state funds to other West Virginia historically black colleges and universities. This defunding made it impossible for the college to stay open. With the closure of Storer College in 1956, the black community in Harpers Ferry began to dwindle, as did the church congregation.
The church held its last function in 2009 – an interfaith revival. Since then it has sat abandoned, under-used, and neglected. The building is structurally sound although it is increasingly exposed to the elements and continues to deteriorate.
In February 2017, the Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Historic Town Foundation purchased the building with hopes to preserve its historical significance while re-using the structure as a secular community cultural center that celebrates the African-American heritage of the area. The Town Foundation needs immediate help fundraising for the preservation of the structure. If you are interested in donating to the cause, visit http://www.historicharpersferry.com/index_eecms.php/first-zion-baptist-church.
Mt. Hope, Fayette County
Date of Construction: 1910
2019 Update: The owners are looking to repair the roof and windows in the near future. There is a space for a beautician to have a shop, and the owners are looking for someone to utilize the space.
2017: The Mountainair Hotel is the largest contributing structure in the Mt. Hope Historic District. It is an anchor building in the historic district and is historically significant because of its connection to mining. The New River Company constructed the building in the downtown commercial area of Mt. Hope following a fire that devastated the town in 1910. The structure was first used to house office workers, but over time it was transformed into a “club house” for miners and then a hotel to host businessmen. Over the last century, it was known by three different names: Hotel Mount Hope, the New River Hotel, and eventually the Mountainair Hotel. In 1931, it was expanded to 50 hotel rooms and featured a banquet hall and coffee shop. The hotel closed in 1965 after the coal industry in the area began to decline, and Mt. Hope lost over a fifth of its residents between 1950 and 1960.
Over the years, however, a building of this size has proven difficult to maintain, and the Cottles have inherited compromised bricks and mortar. The Cottles are currently seeking funding resources and assistance in rehabilitating the exterior of the structure.
Hinton, Summers County
Construction Date: 1928
Threat: Deterioration; Funding
May 2019 Update: Progress on the bridge is at a standstill. The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) is willing to have a non-profit organization take over ownership of the bridge if they can demonstrate financial ability to restore and maintain the bridge. Additionally, they must agree to dismantle the bridge if they can no longer maintain it. However, as of the site’s last update, they have been unable to find a non-profit organization capable of taking on the expense of the bridge’s restoration. The bridge continues to need concrete repairs, conduit replacement for decorative lighting, and grooming of the surrounding area. Until a financially capable custodial organization is found, the bridge will continue to deteriorate. The local community would like to see the for former automobile bridge restored and repurposed as a pedestrian bridge.
2016: The Avis Overhead Bridge connects Hinton and the neighboring community of Avis, above the railroad tracks, along WV 107 and, later, WV Route 21. It is recognized in the 1984 West Virginia Bridge Survey as being historically significant. The Luten Bridge Company of York, Pennsylvania, constructed the bridge in 1928. Its designer, Daniel B. Luten, claimed to have designed over 17,000 bridges, and the concrete Avis Overhead Bridge features his patented Rainbow Arch. Rainbow arch bridges are famous for having been built with curved, simply ornamented, solid parapets. This style of concrete arch was widely built as a proprietary bridge type in the first quarter of the twentieth century.
The bridge closed in 2003 when a new bridge was constructed nearby. The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) retains ownership of the original bridge and does not have plans to rehabilitate it now that a new bridge has been built. Local groups would like to see this former automobile bridge reused as a pedestrian bridge reconnecting Hinton and Avis. Before its potential reopening, however, the bridge is in need of concrete repairs, conduit replacement for decorative lighting, and grooming of the surrounding area.
The DOH would consider giving up ownership of the bridge to a nonprofit if that particular organization could demonstrate the long term fiscal ability to inspect the bridge in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards and to maintain its safe operations for general public use. Interested organizations must submit a plan to the DOH outlining how the organization expects to maintain the bridge and for what duration. The organization must also agree to demolish the structure at its own cost at which time it is determined that they do not have the financial capability to maintain the safe operation of the bridge. The bridge would require an in-depth inspection and load rating for its intended use before it could be open to any type of traffic.
Wheeling, Ohio County
Construction Date: c. 1880 - 1900
Threat: Vacancy; Neglect
2018 Update: These properties are still owned by the City of Wheeling. The City is looking into roof repairs and finding a developer. The back of one of the buildings was demolished in 2017.
2016: The endangered 1400 Block in Wheeling consists of three contiguous buildings (1425, 1429, and 1433) on the west side of Market Street in the Wheeling Historic District. The vacant buildings are located on the same block as the iconic West Virginia Independence Hall and are near the growing West Virginia Northern Community College campus. All three of the buildings have housed commercial interests on the first floors and have historically been mixed-used structures with residences on upper floors. All three of the buildings were home to some of Wheeling’s most prominent businessmen and have housed locally owned and operated businesses - including Standard Cigar Works, Wheeling Candy Kitchen, and, most famously, Zellers Steak (in the middle of the three buildings, number 1429). Zellers was owned by Wheeling’s most notorious underworld figure, “Big Bill” Lias. The first floor at the time was a legitimate restaurant, while a plush gambling casino operated on the second floor, and back rooms and upper floors supported Lias’s extensive gambling operations.
In addition to being a part of Wheeling’s fascinating past, the buildings are architecturally interesting. Number 1425 (3 stories, approximately 5300 square feet) is Italianate in design; 1429 (5 stories, approximately 13,000 square feet) is Flemish with Medieval overtones; and 1433 (3 stories, approximately 4500 square feet) is Art Deco, with the different styles undoubtedly reflecting their different eras of construction. Facades of the upper floors of each building are essentially original, while first floor “contemporary” storefronts are not true to the histories of the buildings. Renovation of these first floors would enhance the architectural value of the entire block.
The City of Wheeling acquired the buildings in 2014 and is willing to sell the properties to the right buyer with a negotiable purchasing price. Anyone interested in buying any of the three buildings should contact the City of Wheeling’s Planning Department at 304-234-3701 and ask for a copy of the City’s Request for Proposals that details the requirements to purchase the properties. Requirements include an indication of a business plan for each or all of the properties’ re-use, financing options, and a timeframe for rehabilitation.
Dailey, Randolph County
Construction Date: 1939
Threat: Maintenance; Funding; Closure
April 2019 Update: The Tygart Valley Homestead Association has made a lot of progress in the building in recent years, but there is still much work to be done to make the building fully functional. The Association repaired and replaced the entire roof as of August 2018. However, before the roof was repaired over the kitchen and cafeteria, water had leaked into those areas and ruined the floor. The Association has been unable to use the kitchen to sell concessions or prepare food for fundraisers because the floor is not ready to move the appliances back into the kitchen until the subflooring is replaced and laminate placed on top.
When the school closed following the storm that blew off the roof, much of the supplies and furniture were left inside the building. So the Association has been doing a lot of cleaning and going through items left behind in the building.
The Association has begun to rent the classrooms and gym for parties and events, and there have been "Open Gym" opportunities every Saturday for local children to play basketball. The gym floor is in need of replacing, also, and PAWV's AmeriCorps member, Sharell Harmon, recently recruited the local Youth Build AmeriCorps members to tear up the floor.
Another challenge has been the utility bills, which have been very high and have used up much of the Association's savings. The Association has been fundraising through various events and hope to start a farmers market/flea market in the spring.
2017 Update: In May of 2016, Homestead School was one of two schools under consideration for closure by the Randolph County Board of Education (BOE) - due to financial constraints, several failed school levies, a decrease in student enrollment, and costly structural and maintenance issues. Tygart Valley Homestead Association (TVHA) and the community had a long struggle to sway the BOE to reconsider the Homestead School closure because of the building’s historical value, as well as its value as a community centerpiece. In December 2016, the BOE unanimously voted to keep Homestead School open.
On August 9, 2017, the Homestead School was closed indefinitely by the Randolph County Board of Education (BOE) and the State Board of Education due to a severe windstorm that hit the Dailey community. On March 1, 2017, the windstorm blew off the gymnasium roof. That roof subsequently landed on the cafeteria roof causing additional damage. The devastating damage made it necessary close the school and move the students to a different school to finish out the school year. The temporary roof cover that was applied and was immediately blown off after installation. The BOE has made no attempts to start repairs on the roof and water continues to enter the building causing further deterioration.
As part of the Depression-Era New Deal program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had deeded the building and its 17 acres to the County BOE. The County BOE has agreed to send a letter of support to the USDA to deed the property and land to Tygart TVHA. Until the deed is given to TVHA, no repairs can be made, the building will continue to deteriorate, and TVHA’s hopes of repurposing the building as a community center will be at a standstill.
2016: Homestead School is an elementary school serving the Tygart Valley Homestead communities of Dailey, East Dailey, and Valley Bend. Located on a 17-acre tract, the school, designed in the Art Moderne style, was an important link in the initial resettlement plans that responded to the issue of desperate families in rural West Virginia during the Great Depression. The Tygart Valley Homestead was authorized as part of the Roosevelt Administration’s First Hundred Days legislation and was the third, and largest, successful resettlement program in West Virginia. The school, which featured First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as its first graduation speaker, is the last of 99 original homestead schools built that is still in operation.
Homestead School is endangered with closure due to lack of funding to maintain and rehabilitate the school. While the actual economy in the region is declining, settlement in the Homestead zone that feeds the school has increased; in the 10-year period of 2004-2014, the school population increased from 99 students to 150 students. The school is owned by the United States Department of Agriculture, but it has a long-term lease to the Randolph County Board of Education (RCBE) necessitating it to be run as a school and community center. Homestead School is one of fifteen schools the board maintains in a county with a sparse population and a low tax base. The Board was recently unable to pass a bond levy, which would have helped to pay maintenance costs at this school and others. A Friends group, the Homestead Association, helps counter these costs by fundraising and applying for grants to rehabilitate the school and keep it operating. The main maintenance issues for the school are related to electricity, the furnace, plumbing, and the roof, as well as the need to update the HVAC system. The goal of the Homestead Association is to raise funds to keep the school functioning and preserve the memory of the Homestead communities in the Tygart Valley.
Tams, Raleigh County
Construction Date: 1921
Threat: Maintenance; Funding; Reversion Clause
2021 Update: PAWV is in the process of nominating the building to the National Register of Historic Places.
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the last update provided to PAWV in 2016, no further preservation action has been taken by the church congregation. Despite the lack of preservation progress, the church continues to receive routine maintenance, and the congregation is in the process of setting up a social-media based fundraiser.
2016: The New Salem Baptist Church is the only building that remains in the coal camp in Tams. A racially segregated community, Tams was divided into Colored Town, American Town, and Immigrant Town. This congregation consisted of black miners and their families, who resided in the northern section of Tams. The Gothic Revival church was built in 1921 after the board of trustees of the congregation approached W. P. Tams, Jr., who owned the company town, requesting that a church be built for them. Tams obliged and provided the funding for the construction of the church. The congregation was able to repay Tams in 1928 and received a clear title to the property. However, a reversion clause in the deed apparently states that the parcel will revert to ownership by the present Western Pocahontas Land Company should it cease to be used as a house of worship.
The church reached its peak during the 1930s, serving 350 members. Once Tams sold his mine in 1955, the community emptied with the eventual closure of the mine, and the town began to decay. Outside coal companies bought many of the buildings and removed them from the community. The last residents of the community of Tams left in the 1980s, and every structure in the black camp of Tams has now disappeared, with the exception of the New Salem Baptist Church.
For over 90 years, there has been an active congregation at the church, and its goal is to continue holding services in the community that many of the congregation once called home. With a congregation of about 10 members, maintenance is the chief issue for the church, as is maintaining the property as a church for the long-term. The congregation and all other engaged parties agree the church should be preserved perpetually as a monument to the communities that once populated the Winding Gulf and as a memorial to the former black community of which the church is the sole remnant. The congregation continues to accept donations to maintain the church, which has become a popular tourist attraction to those riding the ATV trails throughout the Winding Gulf.
Mt. Nebo, Nicholas County
Date of Construction: c. 1845
Threat: Deferred Maintenance + Security
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the last update provided to PAWV in 2016, there has been very little progress made at the site in the last six months. Collections management of the home’s artifacts continues to be conducted. In early 2016, roof repairs had been completed, a non-historic porch on the back of the building had been removed, and trees that might have been a threat to the site had been cleared.
2015: The Old White House, which sits on the McClung/McMillion Farm, houses a large collection of artifacts and historical records significant to Nicholas County. A two-story log structure covered in square-cut clapboard siding, the house was built circa 1845 by Matthew McClung on land given to him by his grandfather William McClung (William was one of the first settlers of the area, taking nearly 100,000 acres of land on the Gauley River and its tributaries). From the mid to late 1800s, the home served as the U.S. Post Office for Fowler’s Knob.
The farm has been in the McClung/McMillion family since its construction. For the past 30 years, the Old White House has sat vacant with little maintenance, leading to water damage from a leaking roof and the theft of various artifacts. The current owners are in the process of passing ownership to their grandson, who is very passionate about restoring the property and implementing a collections care and management policy so that the Old White House may serve as a resource for the community. In order to restore the property, the tin roof will be repaired to prevent further water damage, a later addition will be removed, and a structural engineer will inspect the outbuildings, some of which are in danger of collapse.
Endangered Properties List
If you are interested in assisting with any of these preservation projects, contact the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia at email@example.com.