The “Westly” Sears Kit House
Lewisburg, Greenbrier County
March 2019 Update: The Greenbrier County Commission recently enclosed the building with siding. It is still vacant.
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the last update to PAWV in 2016, the Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission noted that there was no preservation progress on the building in 2016. The house, which is being adaptively reused by a county agency, is still in need of paint and maintenance.
2013: The youngest of the newly-listed endangered sites is the “Westly”, a Sears Kit House located in the Lewisburg Historic District between the Greenbrier County Court House and the Governor Price House in Lewisburg (Greenbrier County). The “Westly” was one of the most popular kit homes sold through the Sears, Roebuck, and Company mail-order catalogs in the early-twentieth century and was made available to residents in Lewisburg with the expansion of the railroad from 1905-1907. The “Westly” and all Sears’s kit homes are special because they were delivered in over 10,000 labeled pieces with assembly instructions. In 1924, the original owner purchased and assembled the home himself. In 1941, the Greenbrier County Commission purchased the dwelling and used it as the office for the West Virginia University Extension Service. In recent years, the building has sat vacant, and although it is deteriorating, it maintains the original floor plan and is in good condition. The Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission and the Lewisburg Preservation Alliance nominated the site to bring awareness to the significance of these unique kit homes. The groups are engaging the Greenbrier County Commission to locate a new use or sensitive buyer to preserve and reuse the dwelling.
Shinnston, Harrison County
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the last update provided to PAWV in 2016, the property is now owned by Square One, a nonprofit organization. Square One has been working to establish the necessary funding to begin the interior restoration of the Mansion’s first floor, so that the building can be reintroduced to the public. The organization solicited bids for the interior restoration and planned to begin in 2017.
Also, Square One has received estimates to repair water leaks in two small, flat roofs. On June 10, 2017, a Vendor Fair and Fund Raiser event was held at the Christ Episcopal Church gymnasium and parishioner’s hall in Fairmont. Local vendors and crafters included: Scensty, Lularoe, Fly Away Daisy Photography, Mountain State Maternity, Paparazzi Jewelry, Perfectly Posh, Legging Army, and Buskins. The proceeds went to the Abbruzino Mansion Roof Fund and for baby beds for low income families in the community.
2013: The Abruzzino Mansion is located in the Shinnston Historic District and sits atop a hillside overlooking the town of Shinnston (Harrison County). The Neoclassical mansion was constructed in 1921 by the prolific builder Charles Ashby Short for Frank Abruzzino, a prosperous West Virginia businessman who was an Italian immigrant. The mansion originally had 28 rooms, 4 bathrooms, and a third-floor ballroom and was converted into apartments in the 1960s. Remarkably, the renovators maintained much of the historic layout and features. Currently, one couple has taken on the task of restoring the mansion, and the project was unfortunately delayed when a fire destroyed the west wing and much of the red-tile roof in 2010. Now PAWV is helping them create a preservation plan in hopes that the building can be secured for a group or groups that can reuse the mansion for nonprofit purposes.
Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion
Blue Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County
March 2019 Update: There has been no real progress on the rehabilitation in the last year. The Greenbrier Historical Society has raised some more money and submitted grant applications, and their goal is to bid some foundation work in the late summer.
Community support remains strong and the structure is stabilized but that will not last forever. More funding is needed.
2017 Update: There has been no new progress since completion of the first phase of the site’s enormous restoration project in December 2016. A Transportation Alternatives Grant application has been submitted for the next restoration phase. If awarded, the pavilion will be a third of the way to completion. The remaining projects include repairing and waterproofing the foundation, installing a new floor and a roof, and other finishing touches.
2013: The Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion is located approximately 9 miles north of Alderson (Greenbrier County) in a cattle pasture surrounded by mountains. The Greek Revival pavilion, or springhouse, was constructed in 1845 and was the heart of a mid-nineteenth century resort complex at Blue Sulphur Springs where Dr. Alexis Martin was the resident physician. Dr. Martin administered the first mud baths in the United States at the resort while also treating patients with the mineral waters and other remedies. The pavilion and former resort also served as a bivouac and hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War until being burned by Union troops. The deteriorating pavilion is the only structure remaining of the once fashionable resort and has not been maintained for many years. Now the Greenbrier Historical Society is working with the current owner to obtain ownership of the pavilion and some surrounding acreage and is already making plans to reuse and develop the site for heritage tourism purposes.
Second Presbyterian Church
Wheeling, Ohio County
2017 Update: Early on February 29, 2016, Wheeling’s Second Presbyterian Church suffered a catastrophic roof collapse during a period of heavy rains and high wind warnings. After the city deemed it unsafe, the 1850, Greek Revival style building was demolished. PAWV had added the vacant church to its Endangered Properties list in 2013 after a partial, less damaging roof collapse due to truss failure. Since that time, a state historic preservation grant had assisted in the roof’s repair, using local timbers and volunteer labor, while the interior had recently been cleared of debris. The church’s owner, the Near Earth Object Foundation, was preparing to transform it into an urban observatory and educational facility. Although hopes for the church’s reuse are now over, certain key elements were able to be salvaged during the demolition process, including some stained glass windows and the original church bell.
2013: The Historic Second Presbyterian Church (Ohio County) is located at 2001 Market Street in the heart of the Wheeling’s Center Market Square Historic District. The Greek Revival Church has stood at its current site since 1850 and was the heart and soul of Wheeling’s Abolitionist Movement. In February, 1865, one week after President Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery with the passing of the 13th Amendment, the Freedmen’s Association held its meeting at the church. Additionally, in 1859 the church’s Reverend Richard Dodge, a good friend of President Lincoln, organized the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), which is still popular to this day. The church is currently threatened by environmental damage since a large portion of the roof collapsed due to truss failure in the summer of 2011. The roof’s trusses were weakened decades ago after being cut and modified to hang a chandelier in the sanctuary. Now the building’s owner, Near Earth Object Foundation, is rehabilitating and preserving the historic church to reopen it for presentations, plays, and educational events, as well as an urban observatory, a project to observe and monitor Near Earth Objects that is supported by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
Ananias Pitsenbarger Farm
Franklin, Pendleton County
March 2019 Update: The property owners received a Development Grant from the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office that was used in the summer 2018 to shore up foundations on the main house, granary, and cellar house, which involved replacing rotting logs, restacking parts of the foundation, installing concrete piers and footers under some sill beams. The main chimney and part of the foundation were repointed. The floor was replaced in the cellar house, and part of one interior wall was rebuilt. Some French drains were installed up-hill from the main house to channel water away from the foundation.
There are on-going drainage issues and challenges associated with getting equipment into some work areas. There's constant threat from water, wind, insects, burrowing critters, as well as rotting logs and window issues. The property owners continue their hard work to keep all the buildings standing and have addressed some of the most critical issues as possible.
2017 Update: The site was awarded a grant from WV SHPO for repairs and restoration of many buildings in the historic homestead. A tax credit application was submitted to be applied towards work on the double crib owl hole barn. Lean-tos will be rebuilt on all four sides to protect the logs. Pine trees from the Pitsenbarger Farm have been cut and milled for use in the double crib barn work. In April 2017, the owners have started a Bed and Breakfast, campground, and an event venue which has increased visitation to the farm.
2013: The Ananias Pitsenbarger Farm is a German mountain farm complex tucked away in the rolling hills of eastern West Virginia in Franklin (Pendleton County). From 1799-1973, only three German families owned the self-sustaining farm, which consists of 23 log-and-frame buildings constructed by hand and made from local materials. Except for some deterioration and field overgrowth, the farm looks very much the same as it did 100 years ago, and many of the distinct German building traditions are still evident including hand-carved wood hinges and pegs. The Pitsenbargers were known locally and to this day for their hospitality to travelers and strong belief in Old World German and occult traditions. The current owners are working hard to preserve the site and the unique history, but this is quite a task as most of the buildings have not been maintained for over 40 years. They are seeking help from PAWV in preparing a preservation plan so that the farm can be preserved and used for recreational and tourism purposes.
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.