`The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has solicited public nominations and voted on award winners that represent the most outstanding and exemplary historic preservation projects in the Mountain State since 2009. This year, the Alliance is celebrating a little differently. “Usually the announcement is made during an annual awards ceremony held at a different historical venue each year, but with the global pandemic challenging the way we meet in public spaces, I will personally be traveling the state to safely hand deliver the awards and highlight these projects in the local press, on our website and our social media accounts,” explained Danielle Parker, executive director for the Alliance.
The Alliance is delighted to announce the 2020 West Virginia Historic Preservation Award Winners.as follows:
The Dr. Emory Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Victor Greco of Wheeling, WV. Mr. Greco is being honored for his outstanding career as an architect where he has helped to preserve countless historical buildings including Wheeling’s Capitol Theatre, Boury Lofts and Flatiron Stone Building. He is also a member of the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission and the American Institute of Architects.
The Rodney Collins Preservation Achievement Award recipient is the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers based at West Virginia University and Marshall University. This agency is a driving force for historic preservation in West Virginia. Specifically, the Centers are being recognized for numerous historic preservation achievements including its FOCUS grant, which is frequently used to preserve historic buildings; its partnership with Main Street West Virginia to educate and bring together local communities focused on revitalizing West Virginia’s historic downtowns; and for being an integral part of the Abandoned Properties Coalition, which is dedicated to pursuing the revitalization of abandoned and dilapidated properties across West Virginia through sustainable planning and policies that positively contribute to community well-being.
The Bob Weir Craftsperson Award recipient is Jeffrey Forster of Burgettstown, PA. Mr. Forster is a blacksmith and metalsmith well known for historical metalworking consulting, repair and reproduction. Much of his work can be seen across the city of Wheeling, WV especially in the Chapline Street Row Historic District and the North Wheeling Historic District where Forster repaired and reproduced the rod iron fencing in those areas. He has also worked on a number of churches in Wheeling including St. Alphonsus Church. Forster is also an instructor, teaching metalworking and blacksmithing classes at the Oglebay Institute’s Steifel Fine Arts Center and Belmont Technical College. In addition to this impressive career, Forster creates commission pieces for many private homes and businesses.
The Heritage Tourism Award recipient is Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation located near Fairmont, WV. The Foundation is being recognized for its living history programming and arts education workshop series in which participants can learn historical crafts from basket weaving to blacksmithing. Pricketts Fort State Park attracts visitors from all over the world to view its 18th century recreation of the original Pricketts Fort, the original 19th century Job Prickett House, Prickett Cemetery, Visitor Center, and Museum Gift Shop.
The Award for Preservation of Historic Downtowns is being given to the City of Wheeling and the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission for their forward-thinking approaches to encourage historic preservation such as their Facade Grant Program, which provides financial and technical design assistance for qualified facade improvements to privately owned commercial buildings in the Central Wheeling Business District and several other National Register Historic Districts. Grant recipients include the First Presbyterian Church located on Chapline Street and the Maxwell Center on 20th Street.
The Community Preservation Award recipient is the Mount Hope Revitalization Coalition for its Mount Hope Historic Walking Trail Project. The walking trail is a culmination of efforts from numerous local and regional groups wanting to preserve their history and bring others to Mount Hope to enjoy it. Some project partners include Active Southern WV, the City of Mount Hope, National Coal Heritage Area, Harmony for Hope and the Fayette County Urban Renewal Authority’s Resource Coordinators Office.
The Most Significant Save of an Endangered Property Award recipient is Lee Street Studios for the redevelopment of the old Lewisburg Public School Complex into a blossoming artist collective. The complex consists of seven old school buildings on over five acres of land. A few years ago, Michael Christie, Bruce Schweizer, Bob Worley and John Hirt came together with a dream to transform the complex into apartments and a space for artists to create, display, sell their work, and connect with each other. Lee Street Studios is also part of the Lee Street Commons, whose members include Country Roads Cross Fit and The Hub, which work together to educate and mentor the youth of our community. The Lee Street Commons also includes one bedroom and efficiency apartments and has an incubator office space, all of which support and develop education, small businesses, and a strong sense of community.
The Excellent AmeriCorps Award recipient is Meredith Dreidstadt, a three-year AmeriCorps member serving with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area who served two terms with Arthurdale Heritage, Inc. Ms. Dreidstadt is being recognized for her excellent efforts in redesigning museum exhibits and interpretive signage at the first New Deal Homestead in the nation, which can now be enjoyed by visitors and local residents alike.
In 2017, the West Virginia State Legislature voted to increase the state commercial historic tax credit from ten percent to twenty-five percent for certified historic building projects. As a result of this increase, West Virginia is boasting more historic building revitalization projects than ever before, and the Alliance selected three projects to honor this year for their Best Use of Historic Tax Credits. Two projects are located on the West Side of Charleston and contribute to the revitalization of the Elk City Historic District: 601 Tennessee Avenue owned by Lanier James LLC and 207 Washington Street West owned by Dewayne Duncan and Andy Tanner. The third project is the Ananias Pitsenbarger Farmstead, now known as the Airbnb, Loafer’s Glory, which is located in rural Pendleton County. These three projects demonstrate how tax credits can be used by individuals and dreamers to preserve and adapt historical buildings.
Join the Alliance in celebrating and honoring these important projects. The Alliance hopes projects, individuals, and organizations such as these will be an inspiration to others in taking charge of what goes on in their local communities.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation in the Mountain State. You can read more “good news stories” and learn more about these awards’ projects by visiting the Alliance’s website at www.pawv.org.