The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia today announced during a press conference at the state capitol the addition of three resources to its list of more than 40 endangered historical properties in West Virginia.
A farmhouse in Mount Nebo, a service station in Fayettevillle, and the entire national historic district in Beckley have been designated as endangered by the alliance, according to its executive director, Danielle LaPresta.
Disclosed every February since 2009, the list has become one of the organization’s most useful tools and has allowed it to build interest in the rescue of threatened landmarks and landscapes. Properties that make the list qualify for assistance through the alliance.
LaPresta said this year’s announcement is noteworthy in that it includes a multi-property national historic district.
“Normally we working with individual properties, but this year the entire national historic district in Beckley has reached a point of eminent danger brought about by neglect, demolition, and inappropriate development,” she said.
More than 20 of 100 historic properties in downtown Beckley have been demolished since the Beckley Courthouse Square National Historic District was created in 1994, LaPresta said, and another 20 have been remodeled without concern for historical standards. The proposed demolition of additional buildings could lead to the removal of the district.
“Because of the loss of integrity, the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office has warned that the district is in danger of being removed from the National Register of Historic Places,” she said.
LaPresta said the organization is considering how it will provide assistance to property owners in Beckley as the endangered resource is so large. Typically the resource is smaller, as is the case with the former Esso station at Fayetteville, in Fayette County, and a farm near Mount Nebo, in Nicholas County.
The former service station on W.Va. 16 was built in 1945 and operated through the late 1990s. In 2014, the current owners purchased the station with the intent to renovate it and pursue a tenant to operate a shop or restaurant. During the period between the closing and sale, the station was neglected. Its leaky, failing roof could collapse from the weight of snow and water damage within has caused mold and white rot issues, LaPresta said.
“The owners are passionate about rehabilitating this property, but they have little experience with preservation,” she said, “so we’ll help provide the guidance they need to save the site before it deteriorates beyond a point of salvage.”
The Old White House, near Mount Nebo, is a two-story log structure covered in clapboard and built in about 1845 by Matthew McClung on land given to him by his grandfather William McClung, a settler who claimed nearly 100,000 acres on the Gauley River. The farm has been in the McClung and McMillion families since. For the past 30 years, it sat vacant and suffered from vandalism and from water damage from a leaking roof, LaPresta said.
“The owners are in the process of passing ownership to their grandson, who is passionate about restoring the property and will implement a management policy so that it may serve as a community resource,” she said.
After being nominated by individuals and organizations, properties which have been added to the alliance’s list are selected through a competitive application process based on imminent danger, on local support for their reuse, and on their eligibility for or listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The organization’s field services representative, Lynn Stasick, works with local residents rallying to save and repurpose these endangered sites, providing advocacy, capacity building, and preservation assistance such as structural needs assessments.
Endangered properties that are not immediately eligible for the list may be eligible for the alliance’s new Buildings-At-Risk Register program. These properties are not immediately eligible for technical services, but their listing may be used as a means to leverage support and may be added at any time of year. Inclusion on the register may also be the first step on the approach to the endangered properties list.
Current endangered properties in West Virginia may be found of the Preservation Alliance’s website at: http://www.pawv.org/endanger.htm
Citizens who are interested in assisting with preservation projects may contact the alliance at email@example.com. Visit www.pawv.org for preservation updates, for more information about each of the endangered properties, or to download a nomination form for next year’s endangered properties list.