Past Preservation Prizewinners ~ 2009 Edition

By Danielle

Since 2009, PAWV has annually honored notable historic preservation projects and dynamic preservationists at the Historic Preservation Awards Banquet.  We at PAWV are gearing up for this year’s awards banquet.  It will be on Friday, September 28th, in the ballroom at the Quality Hotel & Conference Center in Harpers Ferry. Instead of revealing the 2012 award winners in this post, I thought it would be fun to spend this weekend recognizing some of our past honorees again.   Today’s post will be all about the year 2009 when the PAWV banquet was held at the Keith-Albee Theate in Huntington.  This was the year when PAWV honored a property that is located in Jefferson County; the same county where we are having our conference this year.  We also honored Greg Coble, formerly with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with a Preservation Achievement award for his work as a lifelong preservationist and friend of West Virginia.  He championed the listing of the Blair Mountain Battlefield among the 2006 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and the listing of Lewisburg as one of the National Trust’s 2004 Dozen Distinctive Destinations, while similarly promoting the 2007 listing of Morgantown.  Greg continues to be an ally in West Virginia’s historic preservation development. There is much more to read and see about the 2009 awardees.  Browse through the gallery for photos of each award winning project and scroll down to read about those dynamic folks behind these successful historic preservation projects.

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Heritage Tourism Award – Main Street Point Pleasant 

Main Street Point Pleasant is an energetic and vital part of the Revitalization Program of Point Pleasant.  From 2003-2009, the Main Street program brought in more than $7 million in investments to the community. Development of the Point Pleasant Riverfront Park includes a 900 ft. dock, 800 seat amphitheater, a small boat marina, pavilion and walking trail.  River history from pre-America through the present day is interpreted with interactive exhibits at the River Museum, which also hosts events.  The Mothman Museum explores the story of the Mothman Prophecies with videos and documentaries.  In addition to these projects, Main Street helped get the building and the money to renovate the tourism and visitors center. In 2008, Main Street made improvements to the downtown streetscape.  Building facades were painted; awnings added; and side streets paved. Main Street Point Pleasant’s record of progress keeps going.  For more information, click the link: http://www.pointpleasantwv.org/

Heritage Tourism Award – Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine Visitor Center

Since opening for underground tours over 40 years ago, the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine has introduced thousands of visitors and local school children to the important story of how coal built West Virginia and helped industrialize the US.  The City of Beckley has been committed to partnering with the Coal Heritage Trail and National Coal Heritage Area to preserve history and make coal-themed heritage tourism a success for southern West Virginia.  Beginning in 1961 with an authentic underground tour of the Phillips family drift-mine, the Exhibition Mine complex has grown to include a coal camp house, miner’s shanty, coal camp church, superintendent’s house and a coal camp schoolhouse.  The centerpiece of the master plan for development at the mine complex, the 15,000 square foot visitor and interpretive center, themed as a company store, was opened to the public on June 30, 2008.  This new center tells the coal heritage story in a thoughtful and compelling manner and complements the re-created coal camp community.

Heritage Tourism Award – Sophia Historic District, Winding Gulf Restoration Organization

The Winding Gulf area once had as many as 50 coal camps with names such as Hot Coal, Pemberton, Big Stick, and Tams.  The declines in the industry left behind many deserted and dying communities that were once home to thousands of coal miners and their families. In 2003 a group of Helen Community members, out of concern for their safety and the well-being of the children living there, came together to form the Winding Gulf Restoration Organization (W. e. G.R.O. w) and began to work on projects to benefit the community.  Since then, this dedicated group of volunteers has formed a Community Watch, built a playground, erected a Coal Miner’s Memorial, lobbied successfully for a modern waste water treatment system and completed several community beautification projects. As one of the most intact, remaining coal camps in the region and very proud of their history, WeGrow began to look for ways to preserve their history and share it with others.  Working with the Coal Heritage Highway Authority and Karen Vuranch of WV Enterprises and other organizations in the area, WeGROW developed “Journey through the Coalfields,” a guided bus tour of the Winding Gulf Coalfield along a portion of the Coal Heritage Trail.  Tour stops included the Winding Gulf Coalfields, Stotesburg Community Church and the Sophia Historic District.

Most Significant Endangered Property Save – Jefferson County Jail,  Carol Gallant, Kevin Sarring, Jim Whipple, Doug Estepp, Matt Grove, and Tom Michael

The restoration of the Jefferson County Jail followed a six-year legal fight to save it from the wrecker’s ball. This fight was led by a very determined lady, Carol Gallant, who would not give up until she saw the jail restored.  Located directly behind the famous courthouse where John Brown was tried for treason, the Jefferson County Jail is listed as a contributing element of the Downtown Charles Town Historic District.   That didn’t stop the Jefferson County Commission from voting 5-0 to tear it down in October, 2000.  The commission ignored the state law requiring a Section 106 review and approved the demolition contract.

The story goes on to include a court battle along with new discoveries of the jail’s historic importance such as its association with the Battle of Blair Mountain.  And while local support grew for restoration, the commission continued to fight it.  In 2002, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the jail could not be razed pending the “section 106” review.  By 2006, new county commissioners had been voted into office, and they all voted to restore the structure to meet county needs.  Architect Matt Grove of Grove Dall’Olio was selected to oversee the work.

Best Historic Preservation Tax Credit Project – Bennett Square, formerly Wheeling Public Library, McKinley Associates and Walters Construction

Local residents remember it as the Wheeling Public Library or perhaps as the location of a special event, but the building which served the public for more than 90 years has been restored for a new purpose.

In 2007, David H. McKinley, managing director of McKinley Carter Wealth Services, purchased the former library.  McKinley has restored the building following the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.  He renamed it Bennett Square after his great-, great-grandmother, Sally Maxwell Bennett, who had given the library a collection of books from her travels.

The total renovation project included architectural elements as well as major electrical and mechanical systems design.  The project created high quality office space in this historic facility which is now home to the financial services firm, McKinley Carter Wealth Services, in addition to being the Wheeling office of Dinsmore & Shohl Attorneys.

Historic Preservation Lifetime Achievement Award – The Keith-Albee Theatre, the Hyman Family

In 2009, PAWV and the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Co-Presidents, Senator Bob Plymale and David Tyson, presented the Hyman Family with a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Keith-Albee Theatre.

The award was presented to Derek Hyman in honor of Abe B. and Sol J. Hyman, who had the vision and fortitude to build such a grand theatre for the people of Huntington.  Abe’s sons, Jack S. and Edwin D. Hyman, whose love and respect for their father and uncle led them to preserve the Keith-Albee Theatre, keeping it operational for decades.

 Because of this legacy, Derek and his family donated the Keith-Albee Theatre to the people of Huntington, and it now functions as the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center for Marshall University.

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