After her retirement from FSU in 1997, Joann became a dedicated preservationist of Marion County. One of her first forays into historic preservation was the establishment of the Fairmont Historic Landmarks Commission. From there, she led the charge to nominate Fairmont’s Woodlawn Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps her greatest achievement was saving the Marion County Jail from demolition. With nothing more than grit, determination, and hard work, she fought tirelessly to protect this building which is now curated as a part of the Marion County Museum and Historical Society.
Joann continues to impress Marion County residents with her dramatic portrayals of Aunt Sukey, also known as the witch of Rivesville. She also brought Fairmont founder Boaz Fleming and the first governor of the restored state of Virginia, Francis Pierpont to the forefront of Marion County’s consciousness. She is a tireless researcher and writer who continuously contributes articles and opinion pieces to our local newspapers. She continues to educate West Virginians daily and brings a dose of wisdom and a ready smile wherever she goes.
On August 22, I attended a meeting between alumni and administration of Salem International University (SIU) to discuss the possibility of preserving the old Administration Building. The Administration Building was built in 1910 in the Collegiate Gothic style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Salem International University president, Dan Nelant, opened the day by discussing the current status and future goals of the university. He related that the university’s stance on the old Administration Building is that while they do not want to see the building demolished, they do not have a current use for it. They cannot direct any resources to preserving the building due to the needs of the current students and programs. Next, local architectural firm, WYK Associates, Inc., presented a condition and prognosis report of the Administration Building. James Swiger, WYK President, voiced concern over the building’s basement, theater balcony, and roof, and estimated the building’s restoration costs to be $3-4 million. Many in the room thought demolition might be the better option after listening to WYK’s assessment. People suggested using the building’s bricks to create a memorial park on the site.
After the campus walking tour and lunch, everyone reconvened for a brainstorming session about possibilities for the Administration Building. I took advantage of this time to explain the economic benefits of historic preservation to the group. I also recommended that the SIU administration have a historic building assessment done before any major decisions were made, and I suggested that it could be mothballed for added security and stabilization. I provided a set of handouts on the issues I discussed so that the alumni and administration could do further research. Additionally during the afternoon session, suggestions were made for the future use of the building. A popular idea was an emergency/urgent care clinic for Salem that could potentially staffed by SIU nursing students. Another idea thrown around was transferring ownership of the Administration Building to the Salem University Foundation or a different nonprofit to handle the preservation of the building. Overall, the discussion gradually moved away from demolition as a solution, and another meeting has been scheduled for October between SIU administration and alumni to continue the conversation.
The meeting was a good first step regarding the fate of SIU’s old Administration Building. Demolition is off the table for now. It’s up to the greater community of Salem and SIU alumni to continue the dialog and think positively on the possibilities for the building’s use.
After almost ten years of tireless fundraising, Friends of Happy Retreat acquired the property and have protected the site from residential development. Like many preservation projects, this was made possible through effective partnering, as well as generous donations. Last December, the City of Charles Town and Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to work together to purchase the 12.2-acre property. The City agreed to purchase 10 acres of land, which it will include in a planned linear park along Evitts Run in Charles Town’s West End. Friends of Happy Retreat agreed to purchase the house, historic outbuildings, and the 2.2 acres of remaining land. The Happy Retreat grounds will also connect to existing City of Charles Town park and recreational lands, as part of an overall Charles Town initiative to revitalize the community’s west end.
We are celebrating this acquisition today but please remember that funds are still needed to preserve and re-use the property for an educational facility.
Renowned architect Charles W. Bates designed the ten-story masonry structure in 1922. The building contains typical characteristics of early 20th century commercial architecture with a slender rectangular floor plan, a uniform and logical façade with the dramatic fenestration accenting its verticality. The open floor plan is constructed with formed in place concrete columns, beams, and floor slabs. The exterior is accented with several types of brick coursing along with limestone accent banding and other details along the cornice.
Since tenants occupied the building during the renovation, the project was completed in multiple phases. The first phase included an exterior restoration where the façade brick and limestone accents were cleaned and restored; and the exposed steel lintels at the windows and door openings were recoated and/or replaced. New insulated double-hung windows and trim matching the size, scale and color of the originals replaced the 1970s bronze aluminum single glazed windows. Once the new windows were installed, the architect’s original design intent expressing the strong contrast between the brick veneer and fenestration once again became prominent.
The final phase of the project included improving site conditions with new landscaping, paving and parking lot control.
Though the building serves multiple tenants, the building primarily functions as the corporate headquarters for a national roofing company that employs nearly 80 personnel.
Other businesses recognized for their efforts in this project include:
The rehabilitation of the Kaley Center has dramatically improved the skyline of Wheeling and has fostered an interest in the continuing revitalization of other historic buildings in the downtown.
The Clio as it is called guides the public to thousands of historical and cultural sites throughout the United States. Built by scholars for public benefit, each entry includes a concise summary and useful information about a historical site, museum, monument, landmark, or other site of cultural or historical significance. In addition, “time capsule” entries allow users to learn about historical events that occurred around them. Each entry offers turn-by-turn directions as well as links to relevant books, articles, videos, primary sources, and credible websites.
The Stewardship Award was presented to a project known for utilizing best practices in historic preservation and archaeology. Since this project’s inception, the utmost care has been taken in the stewardship of this property. The Cockayne Farmstead Preservation Project in Glen Dale, WV is the recipient of the first-ever Stewardship Award. Present to accept the award was the newest staff person for the Farmstead, Caitlin Hucik.
WYP is currently in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit in West Virginia and pursuing 501(c)(3) status. Currently, a six-person steering committee serves as the point persons for different initiatives happening or in the works: the Blue Church, cemeteries, organizational structure, marketing and social media, workshops, and lovescaping.
Her interior work includes installation of a new stage floor, installation of interior storm windows and other energy efficiency projects, updating the heating and cooling system, replacement of carpeting, remodeling of the toilets, major developments to the sound and lighting systems, and constant painting. Perhaps most importantly, she will leave a legacy of a maintenance plan and careful documentation of all the work that was done under her leadership, as well as beneficial working relationships with the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, numerous foundations, the Greenbrier County Commission, and the Lewisburg City Council.
Congratulations, Susan! Thank you for your hard work!
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