Skip Navigation

MINUTES
WEST VIRGINIA
ARCHIVES AND HISTORY COMMISSION
FALL MEETING
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011
THE HERMITAGE INN
PETERSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA

Chairman Robert Conte called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. In addition to Dr. Conte, other voting members present were Jack Dickinson, Harold Forbes, Becky Frye, Victor Greco, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Bill Richardson, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Ex officio voting member present was Fredrick Armstrong. Ex officio voting member absent was Dr. Bill Arnett. Ex officio non-voting members present were Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History, serving as secretary to the commission; Dr. Michael Hohn, director, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section. Ex officio non-voting members absent were Charles Morris, director, Museums Section; Jeremy Morris; and Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Bethany Canfield and Erin Riebe.

Following introductions, Chairman Conte asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 3 June 2011. Mr. Armstrong stated that the alteration of the agenda to allow Culture and History’s report to come first should be noted, as well as Commissioner Reid-Smith’s departure from the meeting. Mr. Armstrong also noted on page 2, that the word “outside work on the Jenkins plantation” should be changed to “exterior work on the Jenkins Plantation home,” and that the word “biannual” on page 6 should be changed to “biennial.” A motion to approve the minutes with the revisions requested by Mr. Armstrong was made by Mr. Greco, with a second by Mr. Richardson. Motion carried.

Chairman Conte called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. He referred members to information provided in the monthly reports for May through August, and the 2010-2011 Annual Report (copy attached to official minutes). He noted continued efforts to increase library patronage, preparations for the 2012 History Bowl, and other efforts to increase educational opportunities. He reviewed the current status of Project Access, stating that work on the contracts is near completion, and noted the addition to the Archives collections of the M. T. Ball Funeral Home records from Williamson.

Mr. Greco asked about the West Virginia History Bowl, and he was informed that private and home school students can participate and that involvement by the Department of Education is minimal. In response to his question about leaks on the fourth floor in the Culture Center, Mr. Armstrong was informed that they stemmed from failing valves in the reheat system and that an evaluation was being done to find the most efficient way of correcting the problem. Mr. Armstrong asked about progress on the county records center warehouse. Mr. Geiger replied that staff was working to determine how much space is needed; whether to rent, buy, or build a storage space; and other issues. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question as to whether Archives was looking at using the facility to store more than county records, Mr. Geiger stated it would be ideal to have a facility to house the State Archives and to store state and county records. Mr. Armstrong asked several questions about records management. Regarding whether other state agencies were supporting state records management and preservation, he was informed that the director was working with the office of the Secretary of Administration on a software system that office is utilizing that would facilitate the review of agency retention schedules and authorization to destroy records requests, and Archives staff have begun studying and planning for preservation of electronic records. Regarding the work being done with McDowell County records, Mr. Geiger stated that RMPB staff was scanning the county’s deed books and was also working with the circuit clerk to help with the preservation and management of the records of that office. Mr. Armstrong asked about the purchase of the Joseph Lewis Collection and was informed that he was a West Virginia state senator from Oak Hill. The collection includes a large number of letters, many written by his son while he was a student at West Virginia University in the 1920s. Dr. Ledbetter commended the Archives and History staff for the professionalism and thoroughness of the annual report, and Mr. Geiger noted that the annual report and monthly reports were written by Mary Johnson, who was also filling in as editor of the newsletter.

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). She noted the completion of the annual work program and reviewed comments that had been received. Work on the calendar is nearing completion, and HP staff has been participating in educational opportunities across the state. Historic Preservation will host a lecture by John Allen at the Culture Center in January 2012 relating to the publication of his new book on architecture in Jefferson County, Uncommon Vernacular. Ms. Pierce noted her office is continually working on Section 106 reviews activity and held three orientation sessions for development grants.

Dr. Walker noted that two phrases in the FY2012 annual work program were misleading regarding access to archaeological information. Under GIS/Computerization, it stated that “archaeological information will be password protected,” but later the program overview stated that “full public availability is scheduled for October 2011.” Ms. Pierce agreed with Dr. Walker and indicated that there would be password protection for archaeological site information. Mr. Armstrong asked if the entry for Pendleton and Pocahontas counties represented a joint project and was informed the same consultant was used for each. In response to a question by Mr. Armstrong, Ms. Pierce stated that she was regularly attending Capitol Building Commission meetings, but there was nothing specific to report. Mr. Armstrong asked about the 2013 calendar and was informed staff was working on identifying the resources that would be included in the calendar. The resources will be associated with significant people from of the Civil War and will relate to sites listed in the National Register. Mr. Armstrong asked Ms. Pierce to discuss the large number of review and compliance projects. She noted the different types of projects and indicated there were very few of these that had adverse effects to historic resources. In reply to his question about proposed demolition in East Wheeling, Ms. Pierce stated that no federal funding was to be used in this project so no review was conducted. Mr. Armstrong asked about the annual work program, noting that the commission was supposed to be notified as to the recipients of the grant scholarships. Ms. Pierce stated she would amend that. Mr. Armstrong pointed out a clause in the annual work program that stated HP staff reserves the right to apply up to 10 percent of development grant annual funding to the endangered property fund. Ms. Pierce stated Historic Preservation does apply funds to endangered properties, and will apply funds to the newly created cemetery grant program.

In the absence of Charles Morris, no report was given on Museums activities, but a written report was distributed (copy attached to official minutes).

In the absence of Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, no report was given on Culture and History activities. Mr. Armstrong asked if any progress had been made on the division’s five-year plan, to which Mr. Geiger noted that no action had been taken.

Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). Three properties approved by the commission – Pitsenbarger Farm, Harrisville Historic District and Hickory Grove – were listed. The Davis Coal and Coke Company nomination was revised based on comments from Mr. Armstrong and submitted to the Keeper for action. The New Deal Resources Cover Document was accepted. The Bullskin Run Historic District nomination was reprocessed. Property owners have been contacted on four occasions, and this is the first time objections have been received. Historic Preservation staff will speak to the Jefferson County Commission in November to explain the nomination process, as there is currently a great deal of misinformation. Mr. Armstrong asked if the original process for notification was through newspapers, and Ms. Riebe responded that letters were sent to individual property owners and the Jefferson County Commission the first time the nomination was processed. For the most recent effort, letters were sent to the Jefferson County Commission and the City of Charles Town and notification to property owners appeared in two local newspapers. Mr. Armstrong asked if the majority of property owners lived on-site, and Ms. Riebe stated she was not certain. Mr. Greco asked how long it takes to get a nomination on the National Register, and Ms. Riebe stated it depends in part on the interest of the property owner. One year is probably the quickest a nomination can be completed.

Turning to New Business, Chairman Conte called for the presentation of the National Register nominations.

Gap Valley Historic District, Monroe County, nominated under Criterion A, Agriculture, with period of significance being 1865-1960, was presented by Dr. Barbara Rasmussen. Ms. Frye and Mr. Tenney questioned the labeling of a log building as a strong house and asked what evidence supports this theory. Dr. Rasmussen explained that the structure was taller than a log house structure, it has a 16' square footprint, and that there was Native American contact there during the period of settlement. She stated it was not a fort but was as much of a fortification as they could erect at the time. Mr. Tenney asked about other evidence to support the building’s use as a strong house, specifically openings, and Dr. Rasmussen noted the existence of a portal door. Mr. Armstrong asked if there was evidence of notching for gun placement, and Dr. Rasmussen noted the chinking was gone, making it difficult to ascertain. Dr. Walker asked where in the nomination the building’s use as a strong house was addressed, and Dr. Rasmussen stated that the nomination did not dwell on the frontier period because the period of significance does not begin until 1865. Dr. Hohn requested additional photos showing contributing resources for submission with the nomination, while Dr. Walker asked that the names of the houses be added to the photographs and the text where specific properties are mentioned. She also stated that the nomination contained a lot of information and it was difficult to process in terms of how it was presented. Dr. Walker recommended a new hand-drawn map that emphasizes the houses, farms, and settlement pattern. Finally, she asked that the nomination clarify that there are no extant mills within the district. Dr. Rasmussen agreed that these additions would be beneficial.

Mr. Armstrong stated that the nomination includes too much narrative on the houses and not enough information that supports the agricultural endeavors. He asked if these farms were subsistence farms or commercial market farms, and Dr. Rasmussen replied they were successful commercial farms. He also asked if the sites have an association with the development of the Grange or Corn Clubs in Monroe County. Dr. Rasmussen stated the school would have had an association with the Corn Clubs. After various questions and answers regarding the agricultural history of the area between Mr. Armstrong and Dr. Rasmussen, Mr. Forbes questioned the district boundaries, and Dr. Rasmussen gave a detailed explanation. Mr. Forbes suggested an explanation be included if it is not already. Dr. Hohn agreed and suggested that a shaded relief map could help depict the geography of the area.

Ms. Pierce stated that there are several statements in the nomination that must be cited, and Dr. Rasmussen stated that she would provide citations as needed. Mr. Armstrong then shared his concerns with the southern boundary ending at the 2600' contour line and argued that the hill property was an equally important part of the overall farm and should not be excluded. He would also like to see more agriculture connected to farm sites. Mr. Tenney and Dr. Walker stated that the district may also be eligible under Criterion C: Architecture. Dr. Rasmussen stated that the SHPO asked her to remove Criterion C, and Ms. Riebe noted that the architectural significance had not been justified. Dr. Walker suggested that architecture be tied in with agriculture, showing why they built these houses and buildings. Ms. Riebe explained that the period of significance cannot pre-date the date of the earliest resource. Mr. Armstrong moved that the nomination be returned for revisions to address concerns expressed by commission members to make it a more favorable nomination to the commission and the Keeper. Dr. Walker seconded. Motion carried.

Williamson Field House, Mingo County, nominated under Criterion A, Entertainment/Recreation, with period of significance being 1951-1961, was presented by Bethany Canfield. Dr. Walker noted that the total number of seats in the building did not add up to the six thousand seats claimed in the nomination, and Ms. Canfield said the number would be addressed for clarification. Mr. Armstrong asked if the facility was integrated, and Mr. Richardson stated that the building was probably segregated at first and integrated later. Mr. Richardson moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Dickinson provided the second. Motion carried.

Capon Lake Whipple Truss Bridge, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion C, Engineering, Criteria Consideration G, Moved Properties, with period of significance being 1874, was presented by Erin Riebe. Before presenting her report Ms. Riebe introduced Gary Klavuhn of the Division of Highways. Mr. Tenney asked for clarification on the qualifications for Moved Properties, and Ms. Riebe stated the setting to which properties have been moved has to be acceptable. Mr. Tenney asked if structures other than bridges can be moved, and Ms. Riebe responded in the affirmative, citing examples of several houses that had been moved. Ms. Riebe provided the definition for Moved Properties and noted they had to have architectural or engineering value. Mr. Klavuhn offered a detailed explanation of Highways’ efforts and current use of the bridge. Mr. Armstrong asked if Dr. Emory Kemp noted this bridge in his 1984 study, and Mr. Klavuhn responded that he doesn’t believe it received focus. Dr. Walker moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Armstrong provided the second. Motion carried.

Winfield Toll Bridge, Putnam County, nominated under Criterion A, Transportation, and Criterion C, Engineering, with period of significance being 1955-1961, was presented by Erin Riebe. Dr. Walker asked when the new composite plate girder was put in and Ms. Riebe provided a date. Dr. Walker asked for the definition of Oldfield Act, and Ms. Riebe stated she would clarify with a footnote. Dr. Ledbetter moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Forbes provided the second. Motion carried.

The Winter Meeting is scheduled for January 27, 2012, in Charleston. The Spring Meeting is scheduled for June 1, 2012, in Shepherdstown.

Mr. Armstrong made a motion to adjourn, and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Secretary


Archives and History Commission

West Virginia Archives and History