Investing in historic properties has never been more popular in West Virginia. The state's tax-credit budgets for rehabilitating older buildings now exceed those of surrounding states, and investors are looking to cut costs by fixing older buildings rather than building anew.
Looking for information on tax credits? Interested in the history of your own home? Curious as to how the historic areas across the state are being preserved?
The state's chief preservation organization, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, is broadcasting a series of free webinars this spring and summer to help property owners and civic organizers meet their personal and economic goals.
Danielle Parker, executive director of the alliance, said the program is an ideally suited form of educational outreach, given the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting sequester.
The series of seven programs has been made possible through a grant from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, she said.
These webinars receive federal funds from the National Park Service as administered by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History. Programs will include the following.
Preserving the history of the Mine Wars
Date & Time: April 29, 2020, 1 p.m.
Some say the decades-long history of the West Virginia Mine Wars has been overlooked. Over the past two decades, however, the region has witnessed a growing and continued effort to preserve this important regional history. What broke the silence? This presentation traces how the transformation came about and who and what groups have been the driving forces behind it. The presentation will also detail what these groups are doing to commemorate this history in the present day.
Presenters: Kenzie New, director of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum; Christy Bailey, executive director of the National Coal Heritage Area
Using tax credits to finance preservation projects
Date & Time: May 6, 2020, 1 p.m.
Tax credits have been made available in West Virginia to help discourage the unnecessary demolition of older buildings and are frequently the sources of financing in adaptive-reuse projects. New-market tax credits have also been established to encourage private investment in low-income communities. Learn how these two programs can deliver valuable benefits. Investors will gain a better understanding of how their projects can qualify, how the transactions are structured, and how to use the tax credits as a source of financing.
Presenter: William Fiederlein, acquisitions manager at National Trust Community Investment Corporation
How to research historic properties in West Virginia
Date & Time: May 12, 2020, 1 p.m.
Initiating the research of a historic property might seem a daunting task. By breaking the approach down into steps, even the most ill-documented can properties can become accessible, productive, and engaging. From property lines and deed chains to documenting values, this session aims to cover the whole process of historic property research through a case study of Duffields Depot— once an under-researched and poorly documented property in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
Preservation opportunities and challenges in South Wheeling
Date & Time: May 20, 2020, 1 p.m.
South Wheeling epitomizes the industrial, civic, and commercial development of a working-class neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, like many other U.S. communities, it experienced severe economic decline during the latter half of the 20th century. The session will review the ascendancy of the community as a center of industry and innovation and its subsequent decline. The session will focus upon the potential for revitalization, the ongoing challenges faced by the community, and current efforts being made for the preservation of this historically significant neighborhood.
Presenters: Steve Avdakov, Lisa Schmidtke, and Debbie Griffin of Heritage Architectural Associates
Historic resources in McDowell County
Date & Time: May 28, 2020, 1 p.m.
In 2016-2017, Aurora Research Associates, as a consultant for the West Virginia Division of Highways, conducted a historic-resource survey of more than 2,000 coal-related properties in McDowell County in southern West Virginia. This session will take the audience into the far reaches of this unique and challenging landscape, providing context for the county and covering the development of many of its coal company towns.
Presenter: Courtney Zimmerman of Aurora Research Associates
West Virginia's Industrial Heritage
Date & Time: June 3, 2020, 1 p.m.
Dr. Emory Kemp came to West Virginia in 1962 and quickly became involved in documenting the history of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge and restoring West Virginia Independence Hall. As director of the WVU Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology, which he founded in 1989, Kemp supervised preservation and documentation projects around the state.
Presenter: Dr. Barb Howe, professor emeritus of history at West Virginia University
Rat's Nests: A Hoard of Information
Date & Time: July 8, 2020, 1 p.m.
Most of the historic buildings we cherish were home not only to humans but also to a litany of what we would today consider vermin. Their nests have become valuable windows into the time period during which they were built. Learn about the scholarship and methodology surrounding the collection, investigation, and interpretation of material culture excavated from rat’s nest middens.
Presenter: Betsy Sweeny, Historic Preservation Program Manager, Wheeling Heritage