Preservation Achievement Award
John C. Allen, Jr.
John C. Allen, Jr. is an architectural historian dedicated to the preservation of West Virginia’s historic treasures. In the past decade, he has led a wealth of preservation projects in WV including the creation of the Beverly Heritage Center, the development of Jefferson County’s historic website and the re-activation of Jefferson County’s Historic Landmark Designation program. John has also been involved in the preservation of multiple West Virginia landmarks County Poor Farm and the Peter Burr House. All of these outstanding accomplishments are worthy of the Preservation Achievement Award, but John was chosen for this award for his work as an architectural historian and author of Uncommon Vernacular: Early Houses of Jefferson County, West Virginia, 1735-1835.
A culmination of work from an exhaustive eight-year survey of 250 of Jefferson County’s domestic buildings, John’s book is the most comprehensive, accurate, beautiful, and important study of historic houses in any county of West Virginia ever published. John not only documents the buildings with beautiful photographs, but he also connects the housing of the area to the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley in a flowing, comprehensive narrative. The book has been described as “aesthetically stunning and historically important,” and we could not agree more.
Community Preservation Award
American Public University System, Charles Town
When American Public University System decided to make its headquarters in Charles Town, WV, the school was conscious of the historic nature of the town and the unique beauty of the surrounding areas. Rather than destroy existing green space to create an “office-park-type” structure to house its offices, APUS undertook a comprehensive multi-building reuse policy in Charles Town’s downtown historic district.
In 2003, APUS purchased its first historic building for its corporate and administrative offices. Now known as Etter Hall, the mid-1800s structure was originally built as the private home of local physician Charles Taylor Richardson and eventually housed Charles Town’s first hospital. This property sat vacant for several years prior to APUS buying it, and the renovation of this building attests to the university system’s preservation spirit.
Gray Hall is prominently located at the corner of George and Congress Streets. It was built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal Program to house Charles Town’s first municipal building. APUS purchased the property in late 2004 and, after an extensive renovation utilizing historic preservation tax credits, the building is now the university’s Human Resources Department. In keeping with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, APUS preserved and restored many original key features of the building such as the original wooden double-doors and opaque glass.
In 2009 APUS acquired and preserved several more historic properties in the downtown area, including the early 20th century dwelling now known as the Dr. Leah Mildred Williams House, the Thomas Green House, and a private home built in the late 1800s by descendants of Samuel Washington, George Washington’s brother.
In creating its campus in downtown Charles Town, APUS has also bought and undertaken renovations of buildings with much shorter histories. Known at APUS as the TrefryTechnologyCenter, the former ACME grocery store was built in the 1950s and is now home to the APUS Information Technology team.
By locating its offices in the downtown historic district, APUS has been a model for new business development in a historic setting. We commend APUS for its thoughtful and sensitive approach to community preservation, enhancement, and development.
Accepting the Community Preservation Award on behalf of APUS was Dr. John Hough. Dr. Hough is the Vice President of Community College Relations and Outreach at APUS and is involved with several local organizations including the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, Friends of Happy Retreat, and the Ranson Economic Development Authority.
Most Significant Property Save
Fisherman’s Hall, African American Community Association of Jefferson County
Located at South West and Academy Streets in Charles Town, Fisherman’s Hall was built by the Charles Town Industrial Association in 1885 for the local tabernacle of the Grand United Order of the Galilean Fisherman, a benevolent order which stressed equality for men and women and catered to the financial and commercial needs of its members through the creation of banks and insurance companies well before the turn of the twentieth century. Built specifically to educate and to assist former slaves and their children after the Civil War, the building is one of the first examples of self-help centers among African-Americans after the end of slavery. Over the years, the building, originally known as the Morning Star Temple, has served as a Black community center and a meeting place for many groups including the Star Lodge Masons, Knights of Pythias, and American Legion Post # 63.
In the 1980s, Fisherman’s Hall suffered from neglect and disuse, but in 1994, a group of concerned citizens formed a committee to determine the building’s history and to mount an effort to both restore and preserve it. For over 18 years, the African American Community Association of Jefferson County has worked to restore the building and continues to use it as a community center for meetings, art displays, forums and educational programs. Restoration has been done in several phases and was completed in 2005, keeping four key goals in mind: youth involvement and development, health and environmental education, cultural awareness, and historical dissemination and documentation.
PAWV recognized several movers and shakers who made this project possible.
Harold Stewart honored him for being instrumental in the successful restoration of Fisherman’s Hall. Harold attended one meeting, became a member of the African American Community Association of Jefferson County, and was soon elected treasurer. As project administrator, Mr. Stewart has worked tirelessly over the years to obtain contractors’ bids while volunteering countless hours painting the building, cutting the grass, and fundraising.
James Tolbert accepted the award on behalf of the African American Community Association of Jefferson County. James has been involved in the restoration of Fisherman’s Hall since the very beginning and has served as a board of directors’ chair for many years. During his research, he has uncovered fascinating information about the building and the Galileans, which has been used in the National Register Nomination, the Charles Town walking tour, and Jefferson County’s African-American Heritage Trail.
Walton Danforth “Kip” Stowell is best known for his career with the National Park Service as an architect and historic preservationist on projects including Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Everglades National Park. In the last decades of his life, Kip made his home in Jefferson County and he had a tremendously positive impact on the community. He drew up the first architectural plans for the renovation of Fisherman’s Hall. As an expert building surveyor, Kip was able to assess the building and create specifications that would save the historical presence of the building. On Friday, we memorialized Kip as an expert in the field and for his work on historic Fisherman’s Hall with the Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Emory Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award
Over the last 35 years, David Kemnitzer has been a model historic preservation architect and is recognized both domestically and internationally as an expert and lecturer on best practices in historic preservation. PAWV honored David for his stunning and on-going career through which he has helped to preserve some of our nation’s greatest landmarks, as well as many of West Virginia’s historic treasures.
David’s career began in his home state of Ohio at the University of Cincinnati where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Shortly after graduating, David was offered a job with the Veteran’s Administration renovating and modernizing hospitals and nursing home buildings. David’s network grew with his reputation, and job offers came pouring in until he left the Veteran’s Administration to work for a prominent firm in WashingtonD.C. David’s new employer was awarded the contract for the renovation of the OldState, War and NavyBuilding next to the White House, and he had assignments to work with some of the most elaborately decorated spaces in the building with superb structural, mechanical and electrical engineers.
Eventually, David started his own firm and his expertise with old and historic buildings made him a popular choice for United States Government agencies. David’s resume includes some of our nation’s most elaborate and famous monuments including the United States Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, the Department of Commerce Library, Dolley Madison’s House, and the Old Executive Office Building, to name only a few. Over the years, David has been recognized time and time again for his excellent work on projects like the Restoration of the 1879 Office of the Secretary, a project that included both restoration and replication of the ornate stenciled walls in the office, which has been occupied by every vice president since Lyndon Johnson.
David has not only achieved prominence in the Washington D.C. architectural world; he has also impacted historic preservation in West Virginia. Since he has made his home in Shepherdstown, West Virginia has benefited greatly from his residency. The infamous Marion County Courthouse in Fairmont and the historic Jefferson County Courthouse are well-known projects of his. Many may remember David’s influence on one of his favorite projects, the Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown.
David has also been involved in many nonprofit and community development organizations. He has been a friend of Preservation Alliance of WV since the late 1990s. He has also been a member of Historic Shepherdstown, where he served as the President from 2004-2006, as well as the Shepherdstown Planning Commission, Association for Preservation Technology International, the International Committee on Monuments and Sites, the Columbia Historic Society, and the Metropolitan Club of Washington D.C. David has reached exemplary status in the field of historic preservation.
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