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Modesitt to be named West Virginia History Hero

Randy Modesitt at Henderson Hall.

PARKERSBURG — The director of the Henderson Hall Plantation in Wood County will be recognized as a West Virginia History Hero next week.

Randy Modesitt was nominated by the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society for the award, which will be presented Thursday at the Culture Center in the Capitol Complex during West Virginia History Day.

“It’s quite an honor,” Modesitt said. “It was certainly unexpected.”

Modesitt, who started in 2013 as a volunteer at Henderson Hall located along West Virginia 14 at Boaz, is appreciative of the recognition, but gives the credit to the volunteers at the historical plantation that dates to the 19th century.

“It takes a whole team to make this thing work,” he said.

While Modesitt is being recognized for his work at Henderson Hall, his service to preserving the history of the region is being recognized, too, Bob Enoch, president of the Historical Society, said.

“It goes beyond that,” Enoch, also a History Hero recipient, said. “Henderson Hall has finally received the recognition it deserves.”

The Italianate-style mansion, completed in 1859, contains numerous artifacts, relics and documents related to the history of the nation.

The 29-room mansion and property is designated the Henderson Hall Historic District and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The nomination cites Modesitt’s participation in projects in support of the historical site, such as planting apple trees and adding herb, rose and pollinator gardens. Last year, Modesitt was instrumental in the addition of the heritage village at the plantation where there are blacksmithing, glass blowing and spinning demonstrations.

“His efforts have dramatically increased public interest, historical tourism and preservation efforts of Henderson Hall,” the nomination said.

The 2020 History Hero awards program will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the State Theater in the Culture Center.

Past local recipients include Vickie Baker in Spencer, Suzanne Hadley in Ritchie County, Mike McGrew in Jackson County, John Huffman, Janet Hodge, Kathryn Harris, Paul Borrelli and Roger Mackey of Parkersburg, Kathy Eckert of New Matamoras, PHS band and trolley chronicler Roger Blackburn, and Phillip Sturm, a Wood County historian, writer and college professor who died Feb. 9.

The Henderson family was a contemporary of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

Alexander Henderson Sr. arrived in Virginia from Scotland in the 1700s and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses where he was on a committee that drew boundaries that exist today between Maryland and Virginia. Henderson was friends with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Mason and George Washington.

Acting on the advice of the first president of the United States, Henderson purchased 25,000 acres in western Virginia, then sent his three sons to settle in the western wilderness. His sons tipped off President Jefferson about the plot between Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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