I came to West Virginia not knowing much about it, other than it lies in the Appalachian Mountains and has a rich coal history. I began my adventures in West Virginia last year as an Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) AmeriCorps member. There, I served with the Buckhannon Historic Landmarks Commission (BHLC) and the Rotary Club of Buckhannon.
With Rotary, I interviewed current and former Rotary members about their memories with the club as part of the club’s oral history project. With the BHLC, I researched the Heavner Cemetery, in preparation for a National Register of Historic Places nomination. Through several cemetery preservation workshops, I became acquainted with WHNAC and Rebekah Karelis, who wrote the nomination for the Mt. Wood Cemetery in Wheeling.
While living in a small town like Buckhannon, I had the opportunity to make a big difference in my community. After moving halfway across the country to join AFHA, I was almost immediately welcomed into the community. I formed tightly knit relationships with the young professional, community service, and photography clubs in Upshur County. Outside of AmeriCorps, I spent my first year square dancing at Augusta Heritage Center, listening to Sunday evening bluegrass on the Buckhannon River, and hiking through Cooper’s Rock State Forest. I could not leave West Virginia without exploring everything it has to offer, so I chose to stay another year.
I chose AFHA and Preserve WV AmeriCorps for their dedication to historic preservation, with an emphasis on community engagement and volunteer management. Through WHNAC and AmeriCorps, I’m excited to serve with local groups and continue raising awareness for protecting their historic resources as a means of economic revitalization.
WHNAC is a grassroots organization that leads advocacy efforts in Wheeling to preserve its rich cultural heritage and revitalize local economic development. Through community-driven projects, discussions, and workshops, WHNAC strives to educate homeowners and small business owners on the importance of heritage tourism and preservation throughout Wheeling.
As the AmeriCorps member, I’ll be researching the Warwood neighborhood, updating the historic property inventory (HPI) forms of Warwood properties, developing a walking tour of Warwood, and writing a reconnaissance survey for the neighborhood. The survey will be used to help guide future master planning work in the area, and to recommend Warwood, or properties in Warwood, for a National Register nomination. Situated on Wheeling’s northern border along the Ohio River and Route 2, the Warwood neighborhood was developed in the early 20th century and built upon its thriving industries and working-class families seeking employment. The neighborhood is named after Henry Warwood, who moved his Warwood Tool Company business to the area in 1905 from Martins Ferry, Ohio. I look forward to meeting Warwood residents, and hearing their stories or memories with the neighborhood, and a successful year in Wheeling.
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