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
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