Following introductions, Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 30 September 2011. Mr. Geiger noted that Mr. Armstrong had previously made a number of suggested changes. On page four, regarding the entry for Pendleton and Pocahontas counties, the last word in the sentence was changed from “both” to “each.” Also on page four, regarding the proposed demolition in East Wheeling, the phrase “no federal funding was used” was changed to “no federal funding was to be used.” On page five, regarding the Museums report, the words “but a report was distributed (copy attached to official minutes)” were added to the end of the sentence. A motion to approve the minutes with the revisions was made by Mr. Greco, with a second by Dr. Walker. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte then asked for a motion on the special meeting minutes of 2 December 2011. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mr. Richardson, with a second by Dr. Ledbetter. Motion carried. Mr. Armstrong abstained.
Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. Mr. Geiger referred members to information provided in the monthly reports for September through December 2011 (copy attached to official minutes). He noted successful efforts to create microfilm from digital images of the State Journal, reviews of retention schedules for several state agencies, and the creation of an online photograph exhibit on Governor Hulett Smith. A WVU Fellow was processing the Governor Joe Manchin papers and electronic files of speeches and press releases from the collection had been received. Geiger spoke about the work of Archives and History staff in preparation for History Day on February 23 and the History Bowl regional tournaments, progress on the statewide preservation project, several upcoming speaking engagements, and upcoming lectures in the Archives and History library, which would be filmed and added to the Archives YouTube site. He stated that work on the sesquicentennial project continued; an annotated bibliography had been completed by Terry Lowry, and the 1863 timeline was nearly finished.
Chairman Conte then called upon Ms. Pierce for her presentation of the Historic Preservation report. Ms. Pierce referred to the report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes) and noted that SHPO had completed its annual calendar, an annual report, and an end-of-year report for the National Park Service. SHPO had recently submitted an Intent to Apply application for a Transportation Enhancement grant on behalf of the Civil War Trust to assist in land acquisition of Civil War-related sites. Staff had provided a presentation at the Division of Forestry conference. Staff also had attended the National Trust Conference in Buffalo, New York, and the Southeast Archaeology Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, where they presented a poster about the online GIS project. SHPO staff assisted the Museums section in the development of the Uncommon Vernacular exhibit and prepared for a lecture delivered by John Allen on January 19. Ms. Pierce noted that endangered property grants had been awarded for the Barbour County Courthouse and the Keller Avenue stone wall in Fayetteville. She and Ms. Riebe had spoken to the Jefferson County Commission regarding the National Register process, Carolyn Kender had reviewed several broadband projects, and Ms. Pierce and Ms. Brennan had worked with the Department of Administration regarding a Capitol lighting plan. Ms. Pierce concluded her report by noting that she and Ms. Brennan had attended a Joint House and Senate Finance Committee meeting to discuss the Tax Credit program and the benefits of raising the Commercial Tax Credit from 10 percent to 25 percent.
Mr. Greco asked when the tax credit would take effect if it was increased, and Ms. Pierce stated that it would occur on July 1. Mr. Armstrong asked about the endangered property grant to the Barbour County Courthouse, and Ms. Pierce replied that the building had been damaged by an earthquake and that the grant was used for repairs. Ms. Pierce also informed Mr. Armstrong that the grant for the Keller Avenue stone wall was used for stabilization, and the repair project itself would qualify for a development grant. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question as to whether or not the Capitol lighting project was ongoing, Ms. Pierce stated that planning documents had been reviewed and that stimulus funding was made available to prepare an evaluation plan, but no money was available to implement it. Mr. Armstrong stated he would appreciate receiving section reports in advance of the commission meetings to better prepare to participate. In response, Ms. Pierce stated that sometimes it was not possible to send them out prior to the meetings.
Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Morris for the Museums report. Mr. Morris referred to the report distributed to members (copy attached to official minutes), discussed increased student visitation to the State Museum, and provided updates on improvements at Museum in the Park and Independence Hall. He mentioned several recent exhibits, noted preservation efforts and care of collections at Grave Creek, and discussed cooperative work with museums, organizations and individuals in caring for artifacts. Morris also spoke about increased educational opportunities, and Dr. Conte pointed out that commission member Dr. Joan Walker is scheduled to present a lecture at Grave Creek on October 25. Mr. Armstrong asked about attendance at off-site facilities, and he was informed by Mr. Morris that visitation has increased at the State Museum and Grave Creek but has decreased at Independence Hall and Museum in the Park. Morris also noted that the Jenkins Plantation was currently closed due to work by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Chairman Conte then called upon Commissioner Reid-Smith for the Culture and History report. The commissioner reviewed ongoing work, including a mural project and the re-construction of a wrought iron fence at Independence Hall, and the construction of a new security fence at Grave Creek. Plans were underway for ADA-compliant bathrooms and re-doing the theater at Grave Creek. At Camp Washington-Carver, a fire suppression system was being bid out, wells had been upgraded to produce more water, and a fire egress was being built in the office area. He noted that a supplemental appropriation of $304,000 had been received to fix a leak in the Culture Center. Reid-Smith also reviewed History Bowl dates, Arts activities, and the Festival of Songs. Mr. Tenney asked about progress on finding a funding source for small museums, and Reid-Smith responded that an improvement level request of $500,000 had not been granted. He noted that additional improvement level requests had not been approved and that funding remained flat except for an increase in federal funds for Historic Preservation for state development grants, for which the state would provide matching funds. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question about water leaks on the 4th floor, Reid-Smith replied that parts had been replaced and the problem had been addressed. Mr. Armstrong asked about the status of commission appointments, and Reid-Smith stated he had spoken with the Governor’s office about this matter, but no appointments had been made as of yet. There being no further questions, Commissioner Reid-Smith left the meeting.
Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). She noted that of the four nominations presented at the last meeting, three had been listed, while comments and suggestions offered by the commission and SHPO on the Gap Valley nomination, which had been tabled at the September 30 meeting, had been sent to Dr. Barbara Rasmussen. The Davis Coal and Coke Company Administration Building, which had been approved by the commission at the Spring 2011 meeting, was listed on October 6, and Ms. Pierce and Ms. Riebe had met with the Jefferson County Commission on November 3 concerning the Bullskin Run Historic District nomination (approved by the commission at the Fall 2010 meeting) to explain the National Register process. The local sponsor has requested that the nomination not be reprocessed at this time. Mr. Armstrong inquired how the SHPO office was keeping track of pending applications, and Ms. Riebe detailed the process. In regard to the Blair Mountain nomination, more than 50 percent of property owners had objected, so its status remained unchanged.
Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations.
Buckhannon Central Residential Historic District, Upshur County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1866-c. 1945, was presented by Jean Boger. Mr. Forbes asked how the name was chosen to identify properties and was informed that they were generally named after the current property owner; if two names were used, the first denoted the current owner and the second represented the historic name. Mr. Armstrong asked how the property owner was determined, and Ms. Boger responded that the information was obtained from the Buckhannon Historic Landmarks Commission. Mr. Armstrong stated that the name of the Hicks House (31 Sedgwick Street) should be changed to the Mary Ann Neff House. Mr. Tenney noted that Category B (association with individuals) was not used due to the large size of the district, and the landmarks commission utilized current city records to the best of their ability. Mr. Armstrong stated he had problems determining why certain structures were deemed contributing while others were non-contributing. Ms. Riebe responded that the integrity is weighted differently for every nomination; some were excluded because they were out of the period of significance or because major changes have been made. Mr. Tenney also commented about the non-contributing properties, noting that some had been altered and were not included, and stated that a standard had to be established and adhered to. Ms. Boger added that a public presentation was held in Buckhannon, and the public was informed that non-contributing buildings could be changed to contributing if they were returned to their original appearance. Mr. Tenney noted there was a lot of enthusiasm for historic preservation in Buckhannon. Mr. Armstrong asked whether No. 193 should be listed as contributing, and Mr. Tenney and Ms. Boger both agreed that it had retained enough of its original elements to be included as contributing. Dr. Walker commented that she would like to see the photographs organized and labeled. Dr. Walker moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Arnett provided the second. Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Tenney recused themselves. Motion carried.
Luna Park Historic District, Kanawha County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1910-c. 1945, was presented by Erin Riebe. Prior to her presentation, Ms. Riebe introduced a number of interested parties who were in attendance, and she noted that David Taylor prepared the survey and Bethany Canfield of SHPO helped with preparation of the map. Dr. Walker stated she would like to have seen more of the photographs identified and a summary of the architectural types included in the text. Mr. Tenney asked if the district had an association with industry, and Ms. Riebe replied that Kelly Axe, built in 1905, was an impetus for growth on the west side of Charleston, as was the construction of railroad bridge in 1880 that crossed the Elk River. Henry Battle of the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, who was in attendance, noted that the area was a working man’s district and that a large number of glass plant workers lived in the area. Mr. Battle added that six to eight houses constructed by John C. Norman, the second black architect in West Virginia, were included in the district and that Luna Park had originally been a golf course. Mr. Armstrong stated he would like to see the architects and/or builders of the houses included in the nominations. Mr. Armstrong also mentioned that he had the same problem determining the differences between contributing and non-contributing buildings, and he pointed out several errors. In response to his question as to whether or not dates of modification factored into the decision, Ms. Riebe answered in the affirmative. Dr. Ledbetter moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Richardson provided the second. Motion carried.
Chairman Conte called upon Ms. Pierce for presentation of the FY2012 Survey and Planning Grants, which are federally funded. Ms. Pierce reviewed how the grants were determined and reminded commission members that SHPO is required to set aside 10 percent of the federal grant for Certified Local Governments (CLGs). She noted that one of the applications, submitted by the Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission, was for the Staats Hospital in Charleston, but no letter approving use of the funds had been received from the owner. Ms. Pierce asked that the commission approve this project with the condition that the owner provides written permission that it is acceptable to fund it. SHPO staff recommended approval of $77,700 in grants to CLGs and no funding for non-CLGs. Mr. Tenney commented on the cover sheet, which he believes should reflect the total amount available and indicate that non-CLG funds were not available. Mr. Armstrong asked if the City of Rainelle was informed at the time of the application that they could have gone through the Greenbrier Landmarks Commission, and Ms. Pierce and Ms. Pam Brooks stated they had made that information known in their press release. Ms. Pierce also pointed out she had informed the town of Moorefield that their chances for approval would increase if they put together a CLG, but the town did not follow her suggestion. Mr. Forbes noted that the City of Charleston applied for two grants and no funding was recommended. Ms. Pierce stated they actually submitted four and two were recommended for approval. When Mr. Forbes clarified that his comment referred to the two east end projects, Ms. Pierce responded that the walking tour brochure application scored lower than the other two, and SHPO was already recommending $12,600 to Charleston for heritage education activity. She added that the Staats Hospital project was more critical than the walking tour. Mr. Forbes asked if the walking tour guide application was denied due to the failure to perform the design guidelines. Ms. Pierce remarked that was not the case, adding that the project was not approved because there was not enough funding available. She did note the failure of past projects from the Charleston Historic Landmarks Commission, stating that consultants had been hired but had not completed the projects and the organization failed to spend awarded funds. Mr. Tenney inquired as to the intended audience for the CLG training workshop in Charleston, and Ms. Pierce stated it was primarily for the landmark commission but would be open to the public. This was a CAMP (Commission Assistance and Mentoring Program) workshop designed to strengthen landmark commissions. Mr. Armstrong noted that three CAMP events had been funded in the eastern part of the state and asked if there were plans to hold one in Wheeling, given events that are occurring there. Ms. Pierce replied that she and Mr. Greco had discussed the need for such an event. Mr. Greco added that he was on the Wheeling Landmarks Commission and that members were receptive to submitting an application, but they were unable to submit one for this round of grants. Mr. Armstrong added that Parkersburg and other locations may also benefit from having a CAMP event. Ms. Brennan noted SHPO had sent out notifications to CLGs, asking for expressions of interest. Mr. Greco remarked that he would help once proper contact information is obtained by SHPO staff, and he also noted the importance of educating real estate agents in understanding the value of preservation. Mr. Armstrong asked if it was possible to set aside funds to provide CAMP program fellowships for individuals to attend workshops in other regions of the state and to send letters to historic landmark commissions notifying them of the workshops. Ms. Pierce replied that a landmark commission could send a representative to any of the workshops, that costs would be nominal, and that invitations would be mailed in the near future. Mr. Greco moved to approve the CLG grants with the stipulation that approval letters are received from the property owners and that a time limit be set. Mr. Dickinson seconded, and the motion was approved.
Chairman Conte appointed Mr. Richardson and Dr. Hohn to serve on the Nominating Committee, which will present the suggested slate of officers (Chair and Vice Chair) at the Spring meeting.
The Spring Meeting is scheduled for June 1, 2012, at Blackwater Falls. The Fall Meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2012, in Shepherdstown.
Mr. Richardson made a motion to adjourn, and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 11:42 a.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Archives and History Commission