Preserving the Past

West Virginia University at Parkersburg sits on the location of the West Virginia Poorhouse Farm. Every state had a Poorhouse, which was a working farm for orphans, widows and those who had nowhere else to go. Anyone who came to the Poorhouse during their lifetime was allowed to be buried there. At WVUP, the original barn and cemetery still stands, but it needs some caring for. WVUP Art club, the historic society and The Poorhouse Rag Magazine have partnered together to work towards preserving the history of the area. Saturday, volunteers such as Lauri Reidmiller, the WVUP art professor, could be seen making new crosses, fixing broken ones and cleaning the area. According to Reidmiller, the crosses are being replaced in small chunks of around 30 a time. The college wanted to do this earlier in the year, but due to COVID-19, were unable to gather. Instead they were able to align it with Parkersburgs Poorhouse week, and in honor of it, work towards better preservation of the area. According to Reidmiller, old crosses will be placed at sites that have broken crosses or are unmarked due to a fire that caused the city to lose parts of the records. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)
Nicholas Reidmiller, a volunteer, adds sand to the base of leaning crosses to help sturdy them into the ground. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)
Traci Mills, a drafting student in the Art club fixes broken crosses, until they can be replaced at a later date. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)
Uta Hempel, professor for biology at the college, works to clean up the fence area of the Poorhouse cemetery Saturday. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)


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