The past five years have witnessed the successful completion of a number of preservation initiatives in West Virginia. What follows is a brief description of some of them. The subheadings refer to goals outlined in the previous statewide historic preservation plan.
Historic Preservation Education
SHPO staff were successful in bringing meaningful heritage education activities and programs to a wider audience. For example, topic-specific workshops, such as those on state and federal tax credits and cemetery preservation, as well as those designed for professional associations and interest groups such as West Virginia extension agents, demonstrated the impor-tance and value of historic preservation to organizations and individuals around the state. Archaeology Week grew into Archaeology Month to incorporate various activities that are conducted during its course. SHPO formed partnerships with cultural resource management firms who have produced posters for the event since 1997. SHPO recently reorganized its celebration of National Historic Preservation Week. A newly developed mini-grant program for Preservation Week 2002 should stimulate interest in local historic resources by providing local and county groups with funding to create walking tour brochures of historic sites and districts. West Virginia History Day, organized annually by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), helps to bring history and historic preservation to state representatives and senators. During this one-day annual event, historical and preservation societies from all over the state receive space in the State Capitol to display information about the history and resources in their town or county.
Special publications helped to make an increasing number of people aware of historic preservation. Publication and distribution of 8,000 copies of Historic West Virginia, a compendium of West Virginia’s National Register properties, quickly demonstrated to West Virginians that their built environment is special and worthy of preservation. Details for Kids, a newsletter first published in 1998, was read by thousands of students in fourth through eighth grades across the state, and intro-duced them to the basic concepts of archaeology, architecture and historic preservation while teaching them about West Virginia history. The newsletter was well received by teachers, prompting SHPO staff to make it an annual publica-tion. Malden: A Town Built with Salt is a supplemental curriculum created for eighth grade students in cooperation with PAWV and the Kanawha County School Board. It teaches students about the history of the salt industry in West Virginia and how it is connected to the historic town of Malden. The curriculum serves as a model for future development of lesson plans and was successfully introduced into the Kanawha County school system. Michael Baker Jr., Inc., produced a booklet about the historic archaeology that was conducted at the Reed Farmstead Site (46HY287) in Hardy County. The booklet, which was produced in cooperation with West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH), educates the public about farm life in rural western Virginia during the 19th century.
Finally, the internet is increasingly be-ing used to bring information about historic preservation and West Virginia’s heritage to a wider audience. These websites, which cover a variety of preservation-related topics, were created by agencies, organiza-tions and individuals with interests in pro-moting and preserving West Virginia’s historic resources. Examples range from websites created by historical societies, such as the Berkeley County Historical Society (www.bchs.org), that focus on promoting local or regional histories and resources, to those developed by non-profit organizations, such as the Fort Edwards Foundation (www.fortedwards.org), that educate the public about a specific resource. Other websites include Arbuckle’s Fort Archaeology (www.greenbrierhistorical.org/fort.html) and Reed Farmstead Archaeological Site (www.reedfarmstead.com). The website about Arbuckle’s Fort, which is housed and sponsored by the Greenbrier Historical Society, details the results of archaeological investigations of this significant Revolutionary War-era fort. As a result of this research, archaeologists and historians hope to collaborate in the near future to nominate this and other frontier fort sites to the National Register of Historic Places. The Reed Farmstead website was created by Michael Baker Jr., Inc., as part of miti-gation efforts for a WVDOH project. The success and national recognition the children’s version of this site (www.kidsdigreed.com) received has prompted WVDOH to use this means to educate the public about other projects.
Public Commitment and Participation
From the creation of a new sub-grant program to the development of the SHPO website, staff promoted and stimulated public participation in historic preservation activities around the state. As a result, public commitment and activity in historic preservation has grown steadily since 1996. The number of Certified Local Govern-ments continues to increase. Currently there are 42 CLGs in the state, although some are more active than others. Projects completed by CLGs include architectural surveys, National Register nominations and walking tour brochures. A new website about the Beverly Historic District and a video about the historic properties in Monroe County are examples of grant projects that have made educational information available through the use of technology. Interest is also increasing in conducting archaeological surveys and in creating preservation plans and design review guidelines.
In FY 2000, SHPO began offering a round of survey and planning grants to organizations that are not affiliated with a CLG. This helped increase preservation activities in areas of the state where people are interested in historic preservation but where, for a number of reasons, a CLG has not been created. The program has been very well received and has resulted in a variety of projects. Non-CLG grants have been used by the Frontiers to Mountain-eers Heritage Tourism group to create a historic preservation plan, by the Wood County Commission to conduct a survey and create a cultural resource management plan for Fort Boreman Archaeological Site, and by EJ & Lenore Kaiser & David Gerlack Foundation to conduct a feasibility study of the William Hope “Coin” Harvey Home. To date, a total of eight grants were awarded for more than $71,000.
Although West Virginia does not con-tain reservation land, the state is home to an active Native American community. SHPO staff invited and appreciated the involvement of various Native American organizations in the state as well as the federally recognized tribes who have inte-rests in West Virginia such as the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, the Iroquois Nation, the United Delaware and the Shawnee. The office works closely with these groups when issues involving the discovery and repatriation of human remains arise.
In an attempt to encourage public participation, information about historic preservation, such as news items, West Virginia’s archaeological site form, and de-tails about both SHPO grant programs, was made available online through the office’s website. A SHPO e-mail address, created for people unfamiliar with the office, is used frequently by people seeking answers to a variety of questions.
Resource Identification, Evaluation and Protection
Through combined efforts, the number of properties in the state that were inven-toried, evaluated and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places greatly increased since 1996. In-house surveys resulted in the recordation of numerous downtown and business districts across West Virginia, including those in the towns of Ripley in Jackson County, Spencer in Roane County, Elizabeth in Wirt County, Nellis in Boone County, and Friendly in Tyler County. Grant money given to CLGs resulted in the inventory of various magis-terial districts such as the Summersville District in Nicholas County, Center District in Gilmer County, and Scott District in Putnam County, as well as an archaeological survey of Center District. Surveys resulting from Section 106 review projects added another 3,347 properties to SHPO files. In total, 7,801 properties were added to West Virginia’s survey files.
Since 1996, 76 properties and 15 historic districts were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Matewan Historic District, listed in 1993, achieved National Historic Landmark status in 1999. An additional 11 properties either underwent boundary revisions or received additional documentation. Notable among the new listings are West Virginia’s first archaeological district and first rural historic district. The Coal River Locks, Dams and Log Boom Archaeological District, which winds through Kanawha, Boone and Lincoln Counties, contains remains of the original timber crib locks and dams that were constructed to aid steamboat navigation of the river, as well as remains of log booms, used by the early timber industry to transport logs down river. West Virginia’s first rural historic district is located near the village of Pickaway, Monroe County. It encompasses 20 contiguous farms on 3,005 acres of land, and provides wonderful examples of double log barns, Folk Victorian-styled homes and the state’s first “corn club” that later evolved into the 4-H program.
Strides also were made in the protec-tion of West Virginia’s historic resources. Save America’s Treasures grants were awarded to organizations in West Virginia for the preservation of the Weston State Hospital building in Lewis County, the West Virginia archaeological collection housed in the Delf Norona Museum at Grave Creek Mound, and the B&O Roundhouse in Martinsburg, Berkeley County. More recently, money was awarded for the preservation of Douglass High School in Huntington, Cabell County and the Grafton Hotel and Depot in Taylor County. A cooperative working relationship between the Archaeological Conservancy and the Fort Edwards Foundation resulted in the preservation of Fort Edwards, a French and Indian War-era fort located in Hampshire County. The Archaeological Conservancy also was successful in saving the O’Dell Mounds, a pair of Adena burial mounds located in Nicholas County, and Boaz Mound in Wood County.
Inter-Institutional and Inter-Governmental Cooperation
SHPO staff were successful in promo-ting the ideas and values of historic preser-vation through its cooperative agreements with other agencies and organizations. Staff currently sit on committees of the National Coal Heritage Area and the Statewide Heritage Tourism Initiative and are able to ensure that mission statements, policies and goals of these organizations include adequate provisions for addressing the preservation of historic resources. Cooperative agreements with the West Virginia Division of Highways and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection continue to provide SHPO with staff to conduct Section 106 reviews of fed-eral and state projects and have increased the understanding of historic preservation within environmental and abandoned mine lands sections of those agencies. Through participation in the Community Design Team program, SHPO staff are able to dis-cuss the ideals and benefits of historic preservation with residents of small towns and municipalities across the state. The Community Design Team program grew out of the Landscape Architecture Department at West Virginia University. Its purpose is to provide a community with direction and coordination skills in such things as economic development, heritage tourism, streetscape design and historic preservation. SHPO staff also worked with West Virginia State Museum staff to com-plete a NAGPRA inventory of human remains in the possession of the Division of Culture and History, as well as an inven-tory and curation study of artifacts belong-ing to the United States Army Corps of Engineers accessioned into the state’s collection.
Technological, Administrative and Fiscal Support
For many years, funding received from the West Virginia State Legislature for historic preservation activities remained at approximately $100,000. In 1999, this amount was doubled to $200,000 and was increased to $500,000 in state fiscal year 2000. This increase in legislative support enabled SHPO to assist in the rehabilita-tion of multiple properties around the state. Recent projects include the Ackerman House in the Centre Market District in Wheeling, the spring house at White House Farm in Charles Town, Reckart Mill in the Cranesville vicinity in Preston County, and the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool in Weirton.
During fiscal year 1998, SHPO applied for and received federal grant money from the Federal Highway Administration’s TEA-21 program to create and input information from its paper files and records into databases that could be integrated into a geographic information system (GIS). The office contracted with the National Park Service to customize ArcView software into a program called MAP-IT, a SHPO-based system. Work has steadily progressed on this project. To date, a large portion of the archaeology and architec-tural information has been digitized. While database input continues for all program areas, a majority of the archaeological survey bibliography is completed. The MAP-IT program is currently being beta tested by SHPO staff and ArcView certification training is proposed for early 2002.
Through lobbying efforts, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has been instru-mental in helping to pass state tax credit legislation for the rehabilitation of historic properties. The legislation allows for a 20 percent state income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic private residences and a 10 percent state income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing properties. These laws require the property to be a certified historic building and necessitate that rehabilitation be carried out in accordance with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Historic property owners began taking advantage of these credits almost immediately and it is expected that its use will continue to increase.