The Braxton Democrat became the first newspaper to serve Sutton, West Virginia but most importantly it served Braxton County. It worked as the main communication source and news outlet for many years. In a time where technology barely existed, and information sharing was difficult, our newspaper was the foundation of communication for our county. Although the name Braxton Democrat was officially in 1982 the newspaper dates to the early 1900s.
Beautifying and enhancing parts of the historic district has been a focus and interest of mine as an AmeriCorps member “the old democrat” as our town people call it is located right in the center of our historic district. It is two stories and concrete and wood. Through out the years and many great articles in between the building has seen its better days.
I have struggled on how to start beautifying my town and helping our progress. What can I do? What can my town do? Picking up trash from our littered sidewalks, planting flowers in our garden and decorating the pots in town can only do so much when the actual eye sores come from the abandoned buildings that fill our downtown.
The month of May is West Virginia’s statewide clean up month. During the clean up myself and volunteers took the entire day to bring the “old democrat” building back to life. The building was consumed with chipped paint and dirt and was getting lost in the eye of passing traffic. Before our day started the building was dark gloomy grey and a lime green that could make your stomach turn just by looking at it. We decided it needed to be a bright welcoming color and historically correct. Choosing paints we chose a concrete grey and a barn red. The red covered the grey beautifully. A lot of citizens stopped to admire our work and to praise us for our efforts.
It is my hope that with a little bit of hope, elbow grease and paint we can save each building one by one and bring it back to its original potential. I believe that business owners who are in search of properties are more likely interested in buildings that look fresh and show future potential before walking inside. We need to renovate the outside of the buildings and business as much as possible in Sutton to draw in more tourists and new neighbors. It all starts with an idea and ends with some paint.
Briar Williams served as a Preserve WV AmeriCorps member for the Sutton Community Development Corporation during the 2020-2021 program year.
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