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Preservation Alliance of West Virginia meets in Parkersburg

Photo Provided People participate in the Cemetery Preservation Session in the Henderson Cemetery in Boaz.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg and the Blennerhassett Hotel were the host for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s Historic Preservation Conference on Sept. 20-22.

More than 100 registrants from West Virginia and other states participated in sessions covering subjects that preservationists face, along with taking walking tours to see some of Parkersburg’s treasures and visits to Blennerhassett Island, said Dina Braniff, of the local Blennerhassett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The organization is interested in the preservation of history in general and the preservation of buildings, said Braniff. The keynote speaker for the annual awards banquet was Ed McMahon, who holds the Charles E. Frazier Chair on Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy at the Urban Land Institute (URI) in Washington, D.C. His presentation was titled “Saving Place: The New Formula for Community Revitalization.”

McMahon shared facts, figures and pictures illustrating progress in other downtowns throughout the country. His presentation documented that large nationally known corporations such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe’s and McDonald’s are moving into downtown areas. People will follow and revitalization will occur, he said.

Sessions included Historic Preservation 101 For Real Estate Professionals, The West Virginia Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, Flood Risk and Historic Resources-A National Perspective, Bricks, Mortar, & Maintenance, BizBuzzHub-Senator Jennings Randolph House-Living Museum (Salem, W.Va.), How Real Estate Crowdfunding Can Support Historic Preservation Projects, New Funding for Sacred Places, Beware of the Bad Stuff: Hazardous Materials In Historic Buildings, Reviving A Historic Theater, Building Pathology For Your Historic Site, Certified Local Government Training, Cemetery Restoration, Historic Decommissioned Schools, and This Place Matters: Using Technology To Share Your Preservation Story.

Registrants participated in the Julia-Ann Historic District walking tour and toured the inside of the Caswell-Smith House, the Rich and Debra Shaffer House and the First United Methodist Church. They also toured significant downtown structures, including the Masonic Lodge Building, the Smoot Theatre and the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, Braniff said.

Preservation at West Virginia University at Parkersburg: A Walking Tour of the 1832 James McNeil Stephenson Mansion at Oakland updated participants on preservation work completed, historic building practices and how their students are taking part in the project.

The local community was honored with three awards. The Julia-Ann Square Historic District was recipients of the 2018 Preservation Persistence Award, which was received by John Nicholson, interim president of the association. Henderson Hall received recognition in the form of the 2018 Stewardship Award. This recognition was accepted by Randy Modesitt, director of Henderson Hall.

Both awards included a $500 check.

The Dr. Emory Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. Kemp, born in 1931, is the founder and director of the Institute for History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

The event sponsors were the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Skelly and Loy Engineering Environmental Consultants, Markosky, the Wood County Historical & Preservation Society and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.

“We are so appreciative of our region’s rich history, the generosity of local preservationists and the opportunity to open our doors and roll out the red carpet for others of the preservation mindset,” said Braniff.

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