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West Virginia Independence Hall to host statehood celebration

6/15/2006

The annual celebration of West Virginia Day at West Virginia Independence Hall Museum in downtown Wheeling will kick off with the premiere of the new West Virginia Encyclopedia at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20. Activities will go on throughout the day, culminating with an Afternoon Tea and musical entertainment from 3 - 5 p.m.

Published by the West Virginia Humanities Council (WVHC) and edited by its director Ken Sullivan, the encyclopedia is a 944-page, hardbound book with 417 illustrations and a full-color dust jacket. Working under the slogan, “All there is to know about West Virginia,” the editors put 2,200 articles by nearly 600 writers, experts in fields ranging from archaeology, biography, history and literature through folklore, culture, and the arts and sciences into the encyclopedia. Sullivan and other representatives from the WVHC will hold a press conference to release the book and conduct a booksigning.

Children’s activities will take place from 10 - 11:45 a.m. and again from 1 - 3 p.m. Grace Welch, a costumed tour guide for the Capitol Complex, will lead kids in parlor games such as “Last Man Standing,” now called “Musical Chairs,” and “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button.” They also can play with a thread button whizzer and color quilt patterns. In addition John Mattox, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio, will present a “Freedom Seekers” program for all ages. Mattox will tell true stories about slaves who tried to escape to freedom before the Civil War from 10 a.m. - noon on the Museum’s lower level. Visitors also can have their photographs taken in Civil War costumes by Kirk’s for $2 from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1 - 3 p.m.

Members of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation (WVIHF) will be available from 10 - 11:45 a.m. to answer questions and pass out brochures about the Civil War Battle Flag project. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is partnering with the Foundation to conserve and display some of the state’s rare, original Civil War flags. It is planned to conserve and exhibit 12 West Virginia battle flags at Independence Hall. The cost of conserving these flags is estimated at $190,000. The Division and the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program will fund conservation for at least six of the flags. The Foundation has initiated a campaign to conserve the remaining six.

At 12:05 p.m., the main birthday ceremony will begin on the north lawn. Jim Stultz of the WVIHF will read Lincoln’s proclamation on West Virginia statehood followed by Del. Gil White (R-Ohio) and Del. Chris Wakim (R-Ohio) reading excerpts from speeches delivered by state leaders during the original West Virginia day celebration in 1863. Visitors are invited to participate in the proceedings by cheering or booing, as the original crowd did, at appropriate times during the speeches. Speeches will end with a cannon salute and Maria Busic of Wheeling will lead participants in a sing-along of Civil War and West Virginia songs, and free refreshments, including birthday cake, will be served. Participants are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs for the outdoor activities. The caterer, “Endsley’s Restaurant” will be on hand to sell various lunch selections.

At 1 p.m., Colerain Connection, a regional band, will perform traditional Appalachian and Celtic music in concert. There also will be an exhibition on display, courtesy of the Children’s Home of Wheeling.

A special ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. to present the 1863 Hupp flag, the 1873 Hupp Cane and the restored, circa 1855-56, portraits of Dr. John Cox Hupp and Carolene Todd Hupp. The Hupp family of Wheeling were early members of the newly formed Republican Party of the 1850s and strong Abraham Lincoln supporters. Members of the Hupp family are making the presentation on West Virginia Day in honor of Lincoln. During the ceremony Dr. Ken Fones-Wolf, professor of history and author of several books, will give a talk entitled “Becoming Masters of Their own Country: the Hupps and the Creation of a Modern State from the Old Dominion.” Secretary of State Betty Ireland will follow the talk with comments accepting the donation.

Closing out the day’s activities will be an Afternoon Tea and Serenade from 3 - 5 p.m., sponsored by Mrs. Archibald Todd Hupp III and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Mazza Harp and Violin Duo, which will play Civil War-era selections. Christine Mazza is principal harpist with the Johnstown Symphony, The West Virginia University Symphony and the Fairmont Symphony. She also performs regularly with the Wheeling Symphony, The West Virginia Symphony and the Westmoreland Symphony. Her son, Lucian, has studied violin for nine years and is a high school honor student. In 2004 and 2005, he was awarded the Mountain State First Place Award for High School Violin Competition.

For more information about West Virginia Day activities, contact Melissa Brown, site manager of West Virginia Independence Hall, at (304) 238-1300.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays, and is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone (304) 558-0220
Fax (304) 558-2779
ginny.painter@wvculture.org