WV Historic Preservation Office Submits Proposed Mitigation to Parties by Cabell BOE for Demolition of West Virginia Colored Orphan’s Home

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
WV Historic Preservation Office Submits Proposed Mitigation to Parties by Cabell BOE  for Demolition of West Virginia Colored Orphan’s Home

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – Based on documents prepared for signing by March 25, 2011, the West Virginia Colored Orphan’s Home after that date will no longer be “endangered,” the structure and grounds will await demolition. 

 The historic landmark will be incorporated in the new consolidated Beverly Hills/Enslow Middle School.

Susan M. Pierce, deputy state historic preservation officer, stated that “this office greatly mourns the loss of the WV Colored Children’s Home” but acknowledges the “significant and substantial commitment by the Cabell County Board of Education,” which has agreed to various projects as mitigation for the loss of the Children’s Home.

In addition, Cultural Resource Analysts of Lexington, Ky., has completed review of archaeological surveys for the property also formerly known as University Heights.  CRA found no evidence of a cemetery or graves.

“While no evidence of a cemetery or graves was discovered during the archaeological survey, it is not possible to rule out that there may be graves in the area,” wrote Dr. Karen E. Hudson, Director of Architectural  and Cultural History. However, the proposed  Memorandum of Understanding for the demolition has been revised to include “an archaeologist will monitor earthmoving activities in the most sensitive area of the project,” wrote Ms. Pierce.

Earlier ground trothing activities found 13 anomalies which “exhibited consistencies with shaft features such as graves or utility trenches,” Pierce wrote. After examination of the areas with hand tools, the anomalies were determined to be “the results of other types of natural and cultural disturbances such as burned out tree-stumps, residual sandstone, utility line trenches and concentrations of rubble.”

The revised mitigation proposal includes preservation of a “handprint in concrete” found inside the Orphan’s Home, if it is found to come from the National Register of Historic Places period.  The concrete handprint will be incorporated as part of the in-school exhibit of the home.

Other stipulations agreed by the parties are having the local history curriculum on the home’s history written by a professional who meets Secretary of the Interior qualification standards  for historian and an interpretive signage memorial at the site. Interviews will be conducted with former residents and employees of the Orphan’s Home (or their families).  Further, an online commemoration of the Orphan Home’s history will be developed at www.wvcoloredorphanshome.com and archival quality historic photographs of the home will be taken.

Once the State Historic Preservation Office “approves”  captioned exterior and interior photographs, written description of the structure and site, and preservation of “floor plans and elevations” on Mylar according to Historic American Building standards, the “Board of Education may commence construction activities, including but not limited to demolition of the Orphan’s Home.”

 

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