My name is Kara Gordon and I am a Preserve WV AmeriCorps Member at the Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale, WV. Since I am originally from Wheeling, WV, I love that I get to help preserve the history of my own local area. So far, I have stayed relatively local pretty much my whole life, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history from Wheeling Jesuit University and a master’s degree in history from West Virginia University. While in school, I also worked, volunteered, or interned at several museums and archives, including the Archives of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, the Mansion Museum at Oglebay Institute, and the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
I love studying everyday history in many forms, but I am especially interested in material culture, and most especially, clothing and textiles. In the summer of 2017, I got the opportunity to intern at Colonial Williamsburg in the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop and it was truly a dream come true! I love to sew and recreating historical garments has been a favorite hobby of mine for many years. When you try on the clothing worn by people from another time – literally stepping into their shoes – I feel like that connection to the past becomes even more real.
Cockayne Farmstead is a bit of a diamond in the rough in many ways. The house itself is rough inside, since it has been preserved but not restored, left as it was found by its last, reclusive owner. Sometimes the “shabby” appearance shocks visitors at first, but it is a glimpse into the passage of time that simply takes a little bit of time to appreciate. Like so many small, volunteer-led historic sites, the house only exists at all because of passionate, dedicated individuals working with very limited resources. This is the story for so many small sites in West Virginia and across the country, and serving with AmeriCorps allows me to help preserve this important local resource. Though its smallness may seem like a disadvantage to some, I look forward to taking on the greater challenges and responsibilities that come with working in a place where my ideas and actions can truly make a difference, instead of being lost in the crowd. It’s a place and a story you can truly become attached to, and I look forward to serving here for the coming year.
Preserve WV Stories