By Daniel Silver Special to the Moorefield Examiner
The 2016 calendar marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Free to the public, a limited number of the calendars are available — one per person — at the college.
The certificates recognize the historic preservation contributions of the current owners of two sites in Old Fields: Fort Pleasant (the Isaac Van Meter House), by Renick and Betty Williams; and Willow Wall (the McNeill Family House), by Robert and Kathleen Taylor. The National Park service listed both homes on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The presentation also recognized the Moorefield Historic Landmark Commission’s efforts to preserve the Old Fields and Battle of Moorefield Historic Districts, both determined eligible for NRHP listing.
The SHPO calendar’s May photo features Fort Pleasant, originally built around 1744 as a fortified log cabin. When the French and Indian War broke out in 1756, Colonel George Washington ordered the construction of a much larger fort on Van Meter’s property, to include a barracks and ammunition storehouse. Four decades later, Van Meter’s grandson, Isaac B. Van Meter, began work on the large Federal style brick home with “giant order” columns two stories high that currently occupies the same ground.
August in the calendar spotlights a view of the Corridor H Lost River Bridge at McCauley, and recognizes SHPO’s collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration and the WV Division of Highways during the roadway’s planning and development to re-align its route in the Moorefield area.
In an example of how government and local residents can find ways to work together, said Commissioner Reid-Smith, “the unique partnership developed for this wonderful highway project protected the Old Fields and Battle of Moorefield Historic Districts from the construction’s possible adverse impacts.
“These sites, along with others in our calendar, have something in common — people who recognize the importance of preserving the past. When you raze a building or destroy a property, it is gone. There are no magic seeds to bring these things back.”
The Commissioner also commended efforts “not just to save but to develop good uses for these structures” that showcase their versatility. In support of those efforts, and emphasizing Hardy County’s good fortune in having “people who understand that philosophy,” he pointed to 17 SHPO grants totaling $184,350 for the area.
Eleanor Heishman noted that the Moorefield Historic Landmark Commission (MHLC) has applied to the WVDCH for a new research grant to establish a benchmark of historic buildings within the Moorefield Historical District.
“The last survey was done prior to the flood of 1985,” said Heishman, MHLC president, “and many things were lost when buildings were torn down.”
The National Park service recognized the MHLC as a Certified Local Government program last March, noting its commitment “to preserve, protect, and increase awareness of our unique cultural heritage.”
The SHPO’s 2016 calendar serves that same purpose, said Mike Crites, MHLC vice-president, picturing for people all around West Virginia some of the state’s most notable historic legacies. “The shots of Fort Pleasant and the Lost River Bridge give others a chance to appreciate a little bit of what we in the South Branch Valley already know about Hardy County,” he said.
WVDCH official photographer Stephen Brightwell made all of the photographs that appear in the calendar, and they represent only a fraction of his raw footage for the project. He posted the calendar photos along with additional images from the shoot online at: http://wvculture.zenfolio.com/p591669066.
“We’re pleased that the Commissioner chose Eastern as the presentation site,” said Curtis Hakala, Eastern’s Division Chair for General Studies, who hosted the event for the college. “As the region’s community college, and as the advance of Corridor H has paralleled our own growth, we are very aware of the area’s historic value and living natural beauty.”
President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the 1966 legislation to preserve the United States historical and archaeological sites. The nation’s most comprehensive preservation law ever, the Act also created the National Register of Historic Places, the list of National Historic Landmarks, and the State Historic Preservation Offices.
Daniel Silver is a staff writer at Eastern WV Community and Technical College.