Preservation: Sumnerite Museum deserves our help

Kudos to Parkersburg city officials who found a way to use $8,500 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding to fund an assessment of what it will take to restore and preserve the Sumnerite Museum on Avery Street.

“This building’s a treasure, and if we don’t take some serious action quickly, it’s going to be beyond repair,” said Mayor Tom Joyce.

Indeed, the museum inside the first free school south of the Mason-Dixon line for African-Americans has not been properly open since 2012, when thieves took approximately $17,000 in copper pipes and fittings.

The building needs help. Its roof is leaking, which means some artifacts have been damaged.

While Wood County Historical and Preservation Society President Bob Enoch looks for a good place to temporarily store what is left, a plan will be developed to tackle what is noted in the assessment of the building. That plan will likely be followed by a fundraising effort.

This is a perfect opportunity for the folks who wailed once it was too late to save other historic buildings downtown to put their money where their mouths have been.

“This one has a much greater historical significance,” Joyce pointed out. AND it can still be saved.

Bravo to the city for getting the ball rolling on that process, but as Joyce pointed out, the city cannot do the heavy lifting. There must be a community-wide effort.

Ladies and gentlemen, you CAN do something about this one. Be on the lookout, in the coming months, for how.

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