PARKERSBURG - A master plan for the Henderson Hall Plantation was unveiled Monday to the Wood County Commission.
The plan developed with West Virginia University includes restoration to its turn-of-the century grandeur, development of an on-site research library and artist center. The 200 pages of analysis and recommendations from WVU include a strategic business plan, Henderson Hall advisory board member Tom Crooks said.
"We believe the ultimate outcome of all of this will be a world-class tourist destination like no other in the country," Crooks said. "In many regards what we are working to create will surpass even sites like Williamsburg. We have original documents left behind by seven generations of the Henderson family, furniture, clothing, furnishings, artwork, documents, photographs, journals, books, newspapers; it's an incredible opportunity."
Photo by Pamela Brust
Tom Crooks, of Stonewall Marketing and a member of the hall’s advisory board, outlined plans for restoration of the Victorian-era Italianate mansion inside and out, establishment of a research library facility and artists’ center, as well as plans for Civil War reenactments and other tourist activities at Henderson Hall.
The commissioners contributed $15,000 to the hall a year ago to assist with preparation of architectural drawings and long-term plans for the property. This past spring and summer, soffits and shutters were replaced and work on windows began.
Documents, original textiles, clothing, and other artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the 1700s are being catalogued with the assistance of WVU.
"We are dreaming of creating a research center and library where people can come to access the documents we have at Henderson Hall, as well as an artisans center on location to allow West Virginia artisans to practice their crafts on premise," Crooks said.
If You Go
* The Victorian-era Italianate Henderson Hall mansion contains thousands of original artifacts and historical treasures handed down through seven generations of the Henderson family.
* Henderson Hall Plantation, about seven miles north of Parkersburg and two miles south of Marietta, is open noon-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $5. For more information go online to oilandgasmuseum.com or call 304-485-5446 to arrange private and group tours.
"The house and grounds will be restored, inside and out to the way they were at the turn of the century. The property goes down to the river affording a fantastic opportunity for Civil War re-enactments and other history-related activities. That's our vision."
A feature about the mansion in the October tourism section of The Cleveland Plain Dealer generated a large amount of interest in the hall and resulted in many out-of-town visitors, some of whom also volunteered to help with preservation efforts.
Dave McKain, historian, author and director of the Oil and Gas Museum, outlined the master plan for the commission. The hall was bequeathed to the museum when Michael Rolston, the last Henderson ancestor to reside on the property, died.
The fundraising campaign will raise funds for the extensive renovations McKain estimated will cost more than $500,000.
"Henderson Hall is an integral part of the history and heritage in the area," Mark Lewis, presdident of the Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, said.
The McDonough Foundation has committed $50,000 to aid with infrastructure and document preservation at Henderson Hall, foundation director Bob Stephens said.
The county's hotel tax is a source of funds for the project, commission President Blair Couch said.
The Victorian-era Italianate Henderson Hall mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1859 by George Washington Henderson and is located off West Virginia 14 south of Williamstown.