We very seldom ask you to support a particular historic preservation effort, as there are so many worthwhile and deserving projects in West Virginia, but we’re making an exception with this message for an Endangered Property. For 80 years the Homestead School and community center has been the beating heart of the Tygart Valley Homestead community in Randolph County, WV. Created by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program to provide housing and work for unemployed coal miners and others who lost their jobs in the great Depression, the community helped people gain home ownership through sweat equity. Descendents of many of the original Homesteaders still live in the community today, and have for years supported the school through our Tygart Valley Homestead Association. The unique architecture and historic importance of the community led to its being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 as “Tygart Valley Homesteads Historic District.”
Declining enrollment and budgetary problems resulted in deferring much needed upkeep, and eventually led to the County Board of Education placing the Homestead School on its closure list. The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia in 2016 named the school a significant Endangered Property .A determined community effort led by the Tygart Valley Homestead Association convinced the Board of Education to rescind the closure decision, but shortly after this victory a freak windstorm damaged the school building to the point that the school system determined it was no longer safe for student occupancy.
This was a major setback, but we of the Tygart Valley Homestead Association didn’t give up, and convinced the powers that be to turn the building over to us for a token payment. We managed to raise enough money to get the roof fixed, and have done major upgrades to the school’s electrical system, but now we are faced with a daunting project: bringing the school building back up to standard so it can continue to serve as a community center.
The number one item on our priority list is to bring the restrooms up to modern standards – some of the 80 year old original fixtures are still in place. Donate at gofundme.com/homesteadcommunitycenter
National Heritage Area designation for Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area became official with the President’s signing on March 12 of S.47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the also known as the Natural Resources Management Act.
The Bill also included a wide variety of designations and land management bills from across the country, including the Sportsman Act and permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bipartisan bill passed in the Senate on February 12, and in the House on February 26, by overwhelming majorities.
Sen. Joe Manchin, sponsor of the original Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act, and a co‐ sponsor of the Senate Natural Resources Management Act, said “The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a treasure that has done a great deal for West Virginia. This national designation is long overdue.” The Appalachian Forest designation bill was also co‐sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Sen. Ben Cardin, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
The companion House bill is sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, with co‐sponsors in the previous session from Rep. Evan Jenkins, Rep. John Delaney, and Rep. Alex Mooney, and in the current session adding co‐ sponsors Rep. Carol Miller and Rep. David Trone.
“Creating an Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area will allow us to continue to celebrate and promote the beauty of our state, preserve our heritage and plan for the future,” Rep. McKinley said of the legislation. “National Heritage Areas deliver a significant economic return and helps us showcase the sometimes‐hidden gems of our cultural heritage.”
“We are incredibly excited to be finally receiving National Heritage Area designation for the Appalachian Forest,” said Phyllis Baxter, Executive Director of Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, Inc, the coordinating entity for the newly designated area. “We have been working on this for fifteen years, and are so pleased to now be nationally recognized. This designation will increase our visibility to attract tourism, and increase our capacity to help local communities.”
National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. With the official national heritage area designation the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area can earn recognition as being nationally significant, and will have access to National Park Service technical assistance and funding to provide more services to the region.
The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area works in 16 counties of West Virginia and 2 counties of western Maryland on conservation, forestry, cultural heritage, tourism and community development. With the overall theme of forest heritage, the initiative works with willing partners to explore and enhance the relationship between the forested mountains and the people who live here.
For more information see www.appalachianforest.us, email email@example.com, or call 304‐636‐ 6182.
A recent study of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s AmeriCorps program suggests its heritage tourism programming is an important economic engine for West Virginia, according to Danielle Parker, executive director for the alliance.
The study found that more than half of travelers who visit the program’s heritage sites traveled from more than 50 miles and that each visit generated nearly one night’s hotel stay and an average of $271.30 for the local economy, Parker said.
Heritage tourism usually include museums, state parks, historical theaters, and living history sites such as Jackson’s Mill, near Weston, or Carnegie Hall, in Lewisburg.
The study also found that museums and historical organizations contribute positively to the quality of life in the state’s cities and towns and that people enjoy and learn from their visits to sponsor organizations, Parker said.
The alliance worked with McMahon Consulting Group to study the effects that the program and heritage tourism have on West Virginia.
“We discovered that AmeriCorps members are essential to providing an excellent visitor experience and to developing their site for tourists,” Parker said.
“It’s clear from the study that AmeriCorps members’ service is leading to more effective organizations and improving the quality of visitor experiences.”
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is a statewide service initiative in which AmeriCorps members are engaged to Main Streets thrive and communities capture their history, and to preserve beloved historical landmarks.
AmeriCorps members serve one-year terms at historical organizations where they complete special projects aimed at developing heritage-tourism destinations and improving the sponsoring organization’s ability to carry out its missions.
There are more than 20 historical sites sponsoring Preserve WV AmeriCorps members in 2019, Parker said. Two high-profile sponsors include Cockayne Farmstead, at Glen Dale, and the Waldomore, at Clarksburg.
Jessica Kittle, assistant director for the memorial foundation for Pricketts Fort State Park, reported that her organization’s participation in the program for two years benefited the foundation “by helping us fulfill our mission of preservation through various projects that we would not have been able to complete on our own.”
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is celebrating its sixth year of operation and is currently competing to become a nationally-recognized program.
Download the full report here.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is praising federal legislative action this week for protecting the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, which is part of 18 counties including Randolph County.
Manchin, a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, secured the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the national designation of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and an increase in the funding cap for the Wheeling National Heritage Area as part of the Natural Resources Management Act.
“I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally permanently reauthorize LWCF so our land management agencies can operate fully and without the fear of losing access to the funding they rely on. The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a treasure in Randolph County and this national designation is long overdue,” Manchin added.
“By reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, this bill supports West Virginia’s heritage and outdoor recreation economy and keeps faith with the important idea that America’s outdoors and public lands are part of who we are as a nation,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers.
LWCF is a conservation tool that ensures states and federal public land management agencies are able to protect and conserve our natural resources without relying on taxpayer dollars. In West Virginia, LWCF funded the acquisitions of the Gauley River National Recreation Area, New River Gorge National River and Dolly Sods. Since 1965, more than $243 million in LWCF funds have been spent in West Virginia on more than 500 projects, both on state and federal lands.
This includes improvements to local parks and public spaces in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
To read the full article, visit the Intermountain's website at www.theintermountain.com/news/local-news/2019/02/forest-heritage-area-receives-designation/?fbclid=IwAR1sTMTTTLEegcPCRiZrjqIitSA2InvF1267CLT4wF1MFTAPznAV8dW4BKA
Another group project took place in Arthurdale and involved adding UV film to nine sets of windows, plus small window panes near a doorway, at New Deal era house, E-15. Volunteers first cleaned the windows with a wood-safe solution then applied UV film to individual window panes. The added film will help block UV radiation from the sunlight and control indoor temperatures. It will also help preserve a number of sensitive artifacts displayed in the living room and two bedrooms, including textiles, documents, photographs, and furniture. Upon completion of the project, it was clear that the UV film dimmed and cooled the light entering the rooms while still allowing enough natural light to enter for visitors to see without turning on artificial lights aiding in the preservation of light sensitive artifacts.
In a work day organized by AmeriCorps member, Kyle Warmack, at the Dubois on Main Museum in Mount Hope, AmeriCorps members and volunteers cleaned out the DuBois community garden, including weeding more than half a dozen large planters. Museum exhibition areas were dusted and cleaned. Most importantly, members created a collections list and cataloged 230 museum items, laying the foundation for a future collections database and building a much-needed inventory before the Museum embarks on a large-scale document scanning project. This project served the Mount Hope community and the 150+ remaining DuBois alumni who meet every two years to commemorate their school and its important chapter in African American and West Virginia history. This museum is the only comprehensive repository of DuBois knowledge.
The success of the projects and the gratitude shown by the individuals and organizations who benefitted from them demonstrated a clear need to continue to plan and organize AmeriCorps group projects throughout West Virginia. As a result, these projects will continue to be a program requirement again during the 2018-2019 service year, which begins on August 28. As we enter a new service year, the Preservation Alliance plans to implement even more group projects throughout the state with members reaching out to different organizations and sites who are dedicated to historic preservation throughout West Virginia. If you are interested in hosting a team of AmeriCorps members for a group project, contact Danielle Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org. All group project sites must be owned by a nonprofit or municipality and be historic in nature. You can also aid in these projects by donating to PAWV. We accept monetary, supply, and volunteer time as donations.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps is a statewide service initiative where AmeriCorps members help main streets thrive, help communities capture their local history, and preserve beloved West Virginia landmarks. This program is made possible through a generous grant from Volunteer West Virginia and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
You can nominate your favorite historic preservation project or a deserving volunteer or professional to be recognized and celebrated at the 2018 West Virginia Historic Preservation Awards. Complete a nomination form and email it and photos to AmeriCorps@pawv.org by 5pm on Friday, August 17, 2018, and your nomination will be considered.
Award recipients receive a complimentary ticket to the banquet and a special award. The banquet will be held at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg, WV on Friday evening, September 21, 2018.
Download a nomination form here.
Visit here to read about past award winners.
The Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s statewide service initiative where members help main streets thrive, help communities capture their local history, and help preserve beloved West Virginia landmarks. The purpose of the Preserve WV AmeriCorps program is to implement historic preservation and heritage tourism projects throughout WV by way of historic resource reuse, improvement, and interpretation. A historic resource could be a building, museum/archival collection, structure, landscape, or historic district / downtown commercial district. Members' service will emphasize community development and revitalization through projects focused on historic preservation, volunteer management, and cultural heritage tourism development.
Members will be placed with individual sites across the state, ranging from museums and archives to Main Street organizations and city agencies. Preserve WV AmeriCorps offers 2 main categories of site placements for members: Museums, Archives, and Heritage Sites; and Historic Districts, Revitalization Sites, and Thematic Regional Sites. Within those categories, each site has individual needs. A detailed description of all sites and their specific task lists (plus more information about the program) will be provided to applicants upon receipt of the initial application; alternately, you can email email@example.com for a copy in advance.
All members’ duties will include some combination of the following:
For more information, see http://www.pawv.org/americorps.html
More than a decade after closing its doors to students, Dunbar School may have found a second life as the city of Fairmont, the Dunbar School Foundation and Fairmont State University are working together to turn the building into a community center and museum.
Fairmont city planner Sandra Scaffidi said that due to several requests from residents, plans started to come together to renovate the school, starting small by installing a bathroom in the school’s gym.
“We’ve been hearing from the community that there’s need for indoor gymnasium space,” Scaffidi said.
“Dunbar has a gymnasium inside, but it needs to be refurbished a little bit. The main deterrent for using the gymnasium is that it doesn’t have a working bathroom facility right now, so the idea is to create an ADA-accessible bathroom. That’ll just allow people to utilize the space while the foundation is continuing to rehabilitate the building.”
The Dunbar School Foundation has been caring for the building since its closure, and the school has thankfully remained in good shape, according to Fairmont State Architecture Department Chair Philip Freeman, who has helped work on the project with his students.
“From a structural point of view, it’s a sound building,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t require a whole lot to get back into use. There are a lot of cosmetic issues, but the big issue with getting the building up and running immediately would be HVAC, electrical and plumbing — the systems that make a building usable.”
The building would also need a new roof.
Dunbar School Foundation President Houston Richardson said the team is constantly working to secure funding for the project, although it has hit a few rough patches.
“We’ve applied for heritage grants,” Richardson said. “We have tried for Bowers Grants before, but they don’t like dealing with bricks and mortar, and we have been turned away. Right now, we have a historical-type grant out, which Sandra put out for us. The Bowers Grant is due this week. That’s where we’re at right now.”
The foundation has also held community events to raise money and is hoping to do more in the future.
Read the entire article at https://www.wvnews.com/fairmontnews/news/plans-underway-to-renovate-dunbar-school/article_024d96bd-40e2-5313-9d6e-da957258eb0e.html
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is launching a new funding initiative, the Historic Preservation Loan Fund, where it will partner with local and regional lending agencies to guarantee up to 20 percent of loans for historic preservation projects. The Historic Loan Fund will target West Virginia Endangered Properties and commercial structures that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The alliance is partnering with Woodlands Community Lenders, Natural Capital Investment Fund, and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority to pilot the fund and leverage more resources for larger revitalization projects in Barbour, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers and Tucker counties.
The Historic Preservation Loan Fund is a revolving loan guaranty program whereby the alliance will promise, or guarantee, its loan funds in case a borrower defaults. This will in turn minimize risk for lending financial institutions and assist candidates that may not have the capital for a regular bank loan. “Made possible with a grant from the 1772 Foundation, the Historic Preservation Loan Fund focuses primarily on construction costs, but borrowers may also apply for acquisition and predevelopment costs, as well as grant funding match,” explained Danielle LaPresta, Executive Director for the alliance. “We are hoping to assist small borrowers like nonprofit organizations and local residents who lack access to the credit resources available to large borrowers, but feel passionately about saving and re-purposing a historic building.” According to LaPresta, these projects are also eligible for a 45 percent historic rehabilitation tax credit and state-issued Development Grants, among other grant funding. Applicants for the Historic Preservation Loan Fund will also receive technical assistance from the alliance, and nonprofit organizations may be eligible for Preserve WV AmeriCorps support.
While several preservation organizations have had success with similar loan programs in states across the United States, this will be the first revolving fund of its kind in West Virginia. With sustainability in mind, the alliance developed the program so that when borrowers pay back loans to local lending partners, the alliance’s funds will be opened up for new applicants. This allows the alliance to stretch the $25,000 grant it received from the 1772 Foundation in February to assist more projects across the state. “We are very grateful to the 1772 Foundation for supporting the development of this loan guaranty program for the last three years, and we are working hard to grow these seed funds,” said LaPresta. The alliance continues to raise funds for the Historic Preservation Loan Fund. “Every dollar we raise will go directly to guarantee loans,“ explained LaPresta. Interested individuals can contribute to this new financial resource at http://www.pawv.org.
Anyone interested in applying for loans using the Historic Preservation Loan Fund should contact Danielle LaPresta at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-345-6005.
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