Chairman Harold Forbes called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. In addition to Mr. Forbes, other voting members present were Dr. Robert Conte, Victor Greco, Bill Richardson, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Voting members absent were Rebecca Frye and Dr. Charles Ledbetter. Ex officio voting members present were Fredrick Armstrong and 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; Jeremy Morris, president of Preservation Alliance of West Virginia; and Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation Section. Ex officio non-voting members absent were Charles Morris, director, Museums Section, and Randall-Reid Smith, commissioner of Culture and History. Also present were Historic Preservation staff members Pam Brooks and Erin Riebe.
Following introductions, Chairman Forbes asked for a motion on the meeting minutes of 20 June 2014. Mr. Geiger noted that the header should read Spring meeting. A motion to approve the minutes as amended was made by Dr. Conte, with a second by Dr. Arnett. The minutes were approved. Mr. Armstrong abstained.
Chairman Forbes called upon Mr. Geiger for the Archives and History report. Mr. Geiger referred members to information provided in the monthly reports for May through July 2014 (copies attached to official minutes) and then reviewed recent activities. He informed commission members that the most recent of the Block lecture series in the Archives and History Library had drawn more than seventy attendees, and that Dr. Conte was scheduled to speak on October 7 as part of the lecture series. Geiger also noted that about 140 high school students had attended a presentation for Constitution Day in the library. He discussed the acquisition of the Norman family papers, which included materials relating to architect John C. Norman, his wife, long-time school teacher and radio host Ruth Norman, and their son, Dr. John C. Norman, Jr., a pioneering heart surgeon. Geiger also mentioned that the State Archives had recently added a collection of materials from the Smith family of Charleston.
Chairman Forbes 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 provided a summary of activities based upon this report. She informed the commission that a check presentation and orientation event had been held for development grant recipients and that sixteen elementary school students had attended a day camp at the Culture Center, where they learned about historic preservation, building plans, city planning, and archaeology. Staff had conducted a realtor training workshop in Fairmont, which was attended by sixty realtors. She also noted that the National Park Service had approved SHPO’s five-year plan and that the section had hired a consultant to analyze the economic impact of the tax credit and development grant program. Ms. Pierce stated that staff had met with the Corps of Engineers to discuss resolution of a Memorandum of Agreement for Big Creek High School and had provided comments regarding a programmatic agreement for Blair Mountain. A special Hurricane Sandy grant from the National Park Service was awarded to the State Historic Preservation Office to fund development activities, a disaster planning workshop, and survey efforts as funds permitted. Ms. Pierce closed her report by noting that work continued on survey records for the GIS system and the annual work program.
In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question about subgrant funding guidelines for CLG/non-CLG grants, Ms. Pierce confirmed that SHPO had occasionally used state funds for survey and planning grants. She stated that any grant would come before the Archives and History Commission for approval, and that SHPO had the right to reserve ten percent for CLGs. Mr. Armstrong expressed his belief that the press release in the newspaper was misleading to non-CLG applicants, since they could only receive grants if CLGs did not receive all available funding.
In the absence of Charles Morris, no Museums report was given, although a written report was submitted to members (copy attached to official minutes).
Turning to Old Business, Ms. Riebe provided updates on National Register nominations previously reviewed by the commission (copy attached to official minutes). She stated that six nominations had been rescheduled for this meeting, noted that the Beverly nomination had been tabled and would be reviewed at today’s meeting, and informed members that the Bethel Presbyterian Church nomination had been listed.
Turning to New Business, Chairman Forbes called for the presentation of the National Register nominations. Before the presentation, Chairman Forbes commented on the commission’s role in reviewing National Register nominations and asked members of the audience to sign up if they wished to comment on any of the nominations.
Gap Valley Historic District, Monroe County, nominated under Criterion A, Agriculture, and Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1778-1963, was presented by Erin Riebe.
Following the presentation, Chairman Forbes asked for comments from the meeting attendees and informed them they were limited to five minutes. Bobby Wallace presented a letter from the Monroe County Planning Commission and stated that he was a landowner in Gap Valley who had been raised there. He had learned that those who proposed the nomination were from Second Creek. Mr. Wallace read from a letter by Dixie Hoke indicating the boundaries of the historic district had been determined before the survey was made. He claimed that the Second Creek organization was seeking to protect the watershed but turned it into a nomination for a historic district. He also stated that although the nomination was made on the basis of architecture there were only three significant houses in the district. Mr. Wallace added that the nomination was also based on agriculture yet only five farms remain. He criticized the failure to inventory some buildings in the district.
The next speaker, Lewis Rowan, who owns a farm in Gap Valley, stated he didn’t understand how they got to this point. The Friends of Second Creek organization did an oral history and a map showing when the buildings were built, but there had been no discussion about creating a historic district. Mr. Rowan stated that he did not think commission members would appreciate their property being put in an historic district and have the National Park Service tell you what to do. He added that he didn’t understand why it was nominated as a historic district and appealed to the commission to truly consider the nomination and to note that the Friends of Second Creek, which had proposed the district, were not elected or appointed.
Gregory Hnarakis, another property owner, stated that the public was misinformed, and he suggested the commission end the effort to have the district placed on the National Register and form a committee within the Gap Valley to speak with property owners to get their feelings regarding the district. He believed this would best serve the people and noted he would be willing to fund the process of forming this committee.
Dr. Conte moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Mr. Armstrong stated he did not understand how the Monroe County Commission could not have been apprised of the nomination. Ms. Pierce responded that the State Historic Preservation Office had followed the proper notification process. The nomination had first been submitted in 2011, and SHPO had contacted the county commission every time the nomination was to be presented. Public meetings had been held, letters had been sent to property owners, property research had been done by the attorney general’s office, and legal notices and notifications had been made in a timely manner. Dr. Hohn stated that the nomination qualifies but he was unsure as to the impacts on landowners. Ms. Riebe replied that the designation of historic district had no impact on property owners, citing Federal code. She stated that the National Register listing was honorary and permitted property owners to apply for grants and tax credits, and that no new restrictions were placed on private property owners. Ms. Pierce added that the Section 106 process does not affect an owner’s right to tear down barns or make changes to his or her property.
Following discussion, Chairman Forbes called for a vote on the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Beverly Historic District, Randolph County, nominated under Criterion A, Commerce, Exploration/Settlement, Military, Politics/Government, and Transportation, and Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being 1768-1959, was presented by Courtney Zimmerman. Mr. Tenney moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Arnett provided the second. Motion carried.
Hebron Church, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, and Criteria Consideration A, Religious Properties, with period of significance being 1849 and 1905, was presented by Sandra Scaffidi. Mr. Armstrong asked about date spans for the cemetery, and Ms. Riebe informed him that it would be possible to research and include these in the nomination. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question about whether or not the balcony was used for the slave population, Ms. Scaffidi stated the information came from Jack Rudolph and documentation might not be available, but that African Americans and former slaves are buried in the cemetery. Ms. Riebe noted the word “reportedly” could be added to the description. Dr. Conte moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Richardson provided the second. Motion carried. Mr. Greco abstained.
Yellow Spring Mill, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion A, Industry, and Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1896-1964, was presented by Sandra Scaffidi. Mr. Armstrong suggested a clearer site plan would help answer his question about mill ponds, and Ms. Riebe agreed to change it for that purpose. Dr. Walker moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Tenney provided the second. Motion carried. Mr. Greco abstained.
Nathaniel and Isaac Kuykendall House, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being 1789 and 1826, was presented by Sandra Scaffidi. In response to a question from Ms. Pierce as to how it was known that the replacement mantel was from Hampshire County, Ms. Scaffidi stated that the owner had taken it from another building in the county. Mr. Armstrong asked if the home was accessible, and Ms. Scaffidi replied that she had reached it by fording the river in a truck and driving through a pasture. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question as to why the frame barn was not included in the nomination, Ms. Riebe replied that the barn was not architecturally significant. Dr. Arnett stated that he did not recall any other nomination being as inaccessible as this one. Dr. Arnett moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion carried. Mr. Greco abstained.
Augusta Milling Company/French’s Mill, Hampshire County, nominated under Criterion A, Industry, and Criterion C, Engineering, with period of significance being 1911-1964, was presented by Sandra Scaffidi. Mr. Armstrong believed that the storage building did not get enough attention in the nomination, and Ms. Scaffidi replied that information regarding its history and use in the complex could be added. Mr. Armstrong moved for approval of the nomination with the understanding that the storage building will be better researched and the resultant data be included in the nomination or that it be listed as non-contributing. Dr. Arnett provided the second. Motion carried. Mr. Greco abstained.
Old Hemlock, Preston County, nominated under Criterion B, Literature, Art, and Recreation; Criterion C, Architecture; and Criteria Consideration G, Properties that Have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years, with period of significance being 1939 to c. 1975, was presented by Erin Riebe. Dr. Hohn stated he had attended an open house at Old Hemlock a few years ago and that the atmosphere and setting were terrific. Chairman Forbes informed the commission that the hunting journals of George Bird Evans were preserved at West Virginia University, and Mr. Tenney noted he saw the influence of the river camp/second home concept. Mr. Greco moved for approval of the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion carried.
East End Historic District (boundary increase), Kanawha County, nominated under Criterion C, Architecture, with period of significance being c. 1905-1962, was presented by Jean Boger. Ms. Boger discussed a public meeting held in the East End which was attended by fifty to sixty people. Michael Gioulis noted that the City of Charleston and Charleston Urban Renewal Authority contributed money and support and that the East End Association sponsored the meeting. Dr. Conte asked how long it took to complete the survey and Ms. Boger responded that it took less than a year and, being an urban survey, was relatively easy due to the density. Mr. Armstrong pointed out the challenges of including areas like Washington Street that have changed dramatically, both architecturally and historically. Ms. Riebe noted she could add a paragraph addressing the natural outgrowth that would explain the linkages. Dr. Arnett moved for approval of the nomination and Mr. Greco provided the second. Motion carried.
At 12:03 p.m. Chairman Forbes called for a recess, which lasted until 1:03 p.m.
Chairman Forbes then called on Ms. Pierce to present the Hurricane Sandy Grant applications. Ms. Pierce summarized the grant, stating that the National Park Service had received $10 million to address preservation efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy. It was a competitive grant process, and West Virginia received $173,000. Funds were utilized to survey historic resources and to hold educational workshops, and SHPO made efforts to determine where Sandy had affected historic resources. In response to advertisements for grant applications, SHPO had received one application. Ms. Brooks was working with the applicant, who had applied for $55,000 to repair a roof. The applicant had not made an insurance claim but an evaluation revealed interior leaks that threatened to have a long-term adverse impact to the building.
In response to Mr. Richardson’s question, Ms. Pierce stated that the owner would have to sign and notarize an affidavit stating that the damage to the roof was caused by Hurricane Sandy. In response to Mr. Armstrong’s question regarding the failure to file an insurance claim, Ms. Pierce read an email from the applicant explaining that they did not believe the damage was extensive enough when it occurred, but problems began to develop months later. Mr. Greco noted that the $55,000 repair cost included architectural services and stated he would like to see the proposal and written estimate from the roofing contractor. Chairman Forbes asked if the applicant had to get bids approved by SHPO and if the cost might be less, to which Ms. Pierce replied that the amount of the award would be dependent on the accepted bid. Mr. Richardson was informed that there were no other worthy applicants for the grant funds.
Mr. Greco made a motion to approve the grant with the provision that the applicant request a minimum of three bids. Mr. Richardson provided the second and the motion passed.
Chairman Forbes called for the next item of business, commission vacancies, and was informed that no new information was available. Chairman Forbes asked Secretary Geiger to keep the item on upcoming agendas and stated he will get in touch with the commissioner to see if there are actions members can take to move things along.
Chairman Forbes then called on Vice-Chairman Tenney, who read the following resolution, which was approved unanimously by the commission members:
Whereas the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, as appointed by the governor, serves as a voluntary citizen advisory board to the Division of Culture and History; and
Whereas the duties and specific activities of the Commission include providing guidance to the West Virginia Commissioner of Culture and History and agency directors in the establishment of state plans for:
With specific efforts to include:
Whereas the Commission elects individuals of its own to serve as chair and vice-chair; and
Whereas, Dr. Robert S. Conte, White Sulphur Springs, immediate past chair; and Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Nitro, immediate past vice-chair have faithfully served the Commission in these capacities for many years; and
Whereas, Dr. Conte and Dr. Ledbetter, in their positions, have provided excellent leadership, positive promotion of the role of commissioners, informative instruction for new commissioners, and a civil and encouraging attitude for the carrying out of the duties of this Commission.
Therefore, Be It Resolved that this Commission expresses its enormous gratitude to Dr. Robert S. Conte and Dr. Charles Ledbetter for going the extra mile for this Commission and the citizens of West Virginia.
Chairman Forbes noted that the Winter meeting is scheduled to be held in Berkeley Springs on January 23, with January 30 as a backup date. The Spring meeting will be held in Parkersburg on May 29, with June 5 as a backup date.
Mr. Greco thanked SHPO staff for their work on the National Register nominations.
Mr. Greco made a motion to adjourn and Chairman Forbes declared the meeting adjourned at 1:35 p.m.
Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.
Archives and History Commission