In 2010, a portion of the west wing of the Abruzzino mansion in Shinnston, Harrison County burned. Since then, this twenty-eight room Neo-Classical structure circa 1922 has sat empty although much of the building is in very good condition. In late 2012, owners Tom and Margaret Feaster attended PAWV’s Preservation Road Show in Charleston in an effort to seek help. As a consequence of discussions with experts there, they decided to make application for inclusion in the PAWV 2013 Endangered Properties list, and the site was subsequently accepted.
Oftentimes, when devastating events such as fires occur, what to do and where to turn can be both overwhelming and daunting for the stewards of historic properties. It is important to remember however, that the restoration, preservation, and adaptive re-use of a building should be viewed as a series of inter-connected baby-steps taken one step at a time. This helps to calm the spirit and clear the head, which aids in moving toward the project’s completion.
In my capacity as Field Representative, I met with Tom and Margaret to survey the house and open up a discussion as to their plans for saving the building. It was then that they expressed the need for some guidance. Through further discussion, we agreed that I would act through PAWV as an agent on their behalf in an effort to gather estimates to have repairs made. In the past months I have done so.
Although it is PAWV’s mission to help with the saving of West Virginia’s historic properties, it is always refreshing to receive a message like the Feasters sent in thanks for our efforts.
“A note to express our appreciation for your assistance in the Abruzzino Mansion project. . . . The situation was completely overwhelming for us. . . . Without your assistance we would still be wondering where to start. . . .You have taken the lead in starting the job and got it moving while we were still thinking about it. . . . As it is now, the electricity has been re-connected and we have bids to seal the roof.” ~ The Feasters, Tom and Margaret.
It is true that projects such as this take other people’s input and expertise. However, a voice of thanks should be given to the Feasters and others like them for their dedication to preserving West Virginia’s precious heritage sites not only for our enjoyment and edification, but that of generations to come.
For more information on the 2013 WV Endangered Properties, visit http://pawv.org/endangedlist2013.htm.