John D. Rockefeller IV Papers
Governor Jay Rockefeller
Blennerhassett Island Mansion Groundbreaking
June 18 [sic], 1984
Governor Jay Rockefeller
Good Morning Everyone!!!
I am so pleased to be here today to help with the groundbreaking of the Blennerhassett Mansion.
Ten years ago, the foundation site for the original mansion was discovered. Since then a lot of hours have gone into study, research and digging to piece together as much history as possible about the Blennerhassetts and the period of time in which they lived.
And most of these efforts are due to the people of Parkersburg.
People like Dan Fowler, Community leaders, Area business people, local historians, and, of course, the citizens of Parkersburg.
You should all be very proud of yourselves.
What you have accomplished will benefit others for generations to come. You have preserved a significant chapter in history by working to re-create the Blennerhassett Estate to its original state.
Children and adults alike will be coming here to learn the fascinating story behind Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett. They will also write some of their own chapters of history about the daily life or Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett; the way of life for their slaves; the kinds of parties and dances they might have hosted . . . . and whatever the imagination can fill in.
And you have played a major role in helping to develop West Virginiaís Tourism industry.
This particular project represents a $2.5 million investment from the State. It is probably two or three times that when you add in 10 years of research, digging and planning . . .
And the attraction it will offer will turn this investment over countless times.
I hope to be able to come back this time next year for the grand opening. I know this project has been a long time on the back burner, but it is now a reality, and Iím sure you are as pleased as I am.
In 1973 archaeologists discovered the foundation of the Blennerhassett Mansion.
Extensive studies in the United States, Canada and Europe have been going on since then to search for the original plans of the Mansion, or to find authentic descriptions.
In 1975 the Legislature appropriated $2.5 million for the purpose of reconstructing the Mansion. You announced during last yearís travel fair, the availability of these funds beginning with $500,000 made available in July 1983.
In 1983 TAG Architects began drawing the plans for reconstruction. They had the benefit of 10 years of archaeological and architectural research. Also, Dr. Ray Swick of the Blennerhassett Commission in Parkersburg was a consultant. Dr. Swick spent 20 years researching the history of the Blennerhassetts and the island.
In April, 1984, the project was put out to bid.
In May, 1984, the project was awarded to Carl Stephenson of Parkersburg.
Cost of the Mansion will be $839,000. Stephenson will build with TAG overseeing to make sure it is built as authentically as possible.
Completion date is late fall and it will be open to the public (hopefully) this time next year.
**NOTE: In the past flooding problems had been used as an excuse to delay the re-construction. The island was plagued by flooding when Blennerhassett owned it. The site of his home, however, was above the flood plain. For extra insurance, the ground of the mansion site will be built up five and a half feet to make sure the mansion will not flood.
Parks and Recreation