This is the first article in a series about our 2013 Historic Preservation Award Winners.
To a preservationist, it is always exciting to come across a neighborhood during one’s travels and find that many of the unique buildings are historic. Even better is when they are preserved and restored to their original fineness and being re-used in a new capacity that benefits the community. In West Virginia, we are lucky to be able to honor a different organization or business for its role in preserving and re-using multiple buildings in one community every year.
This year’s Community Preservation Award winner recognizes the efforts of several organizations collaborating to develop the Beverly Heritage Center. Mary Kay Bidlack of Beverly submitted this nomination.
The Beverly Heritage Center is a multi-year effort to develop four significant historical buildings into a major heritage tourism attraction for Randolph County. The Beverly Heritage Center rehabilitated the 1808 Randolph County Courthouse, 1850’s Bushrod Crawford Building (McClellan’s headquarters), 1900 Beverly Bank, and the 1912 Hill store building. A new gallery addition connects the buildings and provides an attractive accessible entrance without modifying the historic facades. The buildings house permanent and rotating museum exhibits, a gift shop, an archives and resources library, visitor facilities, event and meeting space, offices, and collections care facilities.
Visioning and planning for the project began in 2001 with support from project benefactor John C. Allen, Jr. and under the guidance of heritage tourism consultant Scott Gerloff. Victor Greco of SMG Architects was chosen as architect and has guided the project throughout. Construction began in 2004 and has continued in phases based on funding availability. The Visitor Center remained open to visitors throughout the project, moving from building to building as work progressed. Major contractors were Allegheny Restoration and Steorts Contracting. The primary facility with gallery and exhibits was completed and open for visitors in 2010. One final phase of construction is still underway to complete additional interior build out, landscaping, and to rebuild the cupola on the Courthouse.
Operating partners for the project are Historic Beverly Preservation and Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation. Many other organizations contributed assistance, including the Randolph County Historical Society, Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance, Beverly Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Town of Beverly. Staff, consultants, and volunteers who had a significant role in shepherding the project through have included Darryl DeGripp, Terry Hackney, and Michelle Depp, executive directors; Victor Greco architect and Gabe Hayes landscape architect; exhibit team David Vago, Hunter Lesser, and Robert Whetsell, with film by Walkabout Company; and the boards of the core organizations represented by Phyllis Baxter of Historic Beverly Preservation; and Richard Wolfe of Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation.
The Beverly Heritage Center continues to bring visitors to Randolph County, and to serve them with an innovative facility, quality museum interpretation, and a hearty welcome. It is open seven days a week through the summer, and five days a week – including weekends – the rest of the year. The Center sponsors frequent events, ranging from Civil War reenactments to community potlucks, and attracts a wide range of visitors including scenic byway travelers and Civil War enthusiasts. Accepting awards were representatives from Historic Beverly Preservation, Rich Mountain Battlefield, and Victor Greco of SMG Architects for the Beverly Heritage Center.