On February 4, 2014, Patti Hamilton, executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties, will moderate a presentation on “West Virginia Courthouses” at the Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston. Mike Gioulis, historic preservation consultant; Melissa Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority; and Debra Warmuth, co-owner of The Walkabout Company, LLC. are co-presenters. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The country's first civil rights case, the battles over county seats, famous architects, and even ghosts—all of these stories are part of West Virginia's 55 courthouses. The program will began with a 15-minute excerpt from the award-winning movie, Living Monuments—The West Virginia County Courthouse. Because these beautiful buildings are steeped in history and are models of various styles of architecture, the presenters will include a discussion of why it is important to rehabilitate a courthouse. While courthouses are architecturally significant and historically important, they also are an office environment for county officials and employees and a public place for citizens. There are funny stories, such as the alcohol-fueled fight in Marion County to get the county commission to build a new courthouse. There are serious stories, such as the John Brown trial in our state's oldest courthouse in Jefferson County. There are little-known treasures such as the stained glass skylight in the Barbour County courtroom. All of these and more underline the importance of preserving our living monuments while making sure that they are functional for the public well into the future.
Patti Hamilton has served as the executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties (WVAofC) since October, 1997. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and earned a master’s degree in Management/Public Administration from the West Virginia Graduate College. Hamilton is Past President of the National Council of County Association Executives and of the Conference of Southern County Associations and currently is a board member of the West Virginia Society of Association Executives. Under her leadership, the WVAofC made the video tribute to the state’s courthouses for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The film won the 2011 Spirit of West Virginia Award from the Division of Tourism and was nominated for an Emmy. The movie led to a full-color book featuring all 55 county courthouses, West Virginia’s Living Monuments—The Courthouses (2013).
On February 4, the library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the lecture, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
West Virginia Archives and History Workshops/Lectures