Berkeley Springs filled with historical activity
Berkeley Springs was recently recognized as one of the first certified historic preservation communities in West Virginia.
The certification was presented to the Bath Landmark Commission by the Division of Culture and History based on a local application. The other West Virginia communities were Bluefield and Beverly.
An array of historic activities were described in the application involving a half dozen groups including the Museum of the Berkeley Springs, Travel Berkeley Springs, the Chamber of Commerce, Morgan County Historical Society, Bath Landmark Commission and Washington Heritage Trail.
"Collaboration is the key both for funding and sharing information," said Jeanne Mozier who prepared the application. "This was a good year for Berkeley Springs to apply. A lot has been happening in the world of local history."
The Town of Bath acquired status as a certified local government and used it to obtain a Historic Preservation grant to conduct a survey of more than 150 potentially historic properties within the town limits.
Currently underway by consultant David Taylor, a preliminary report is due in January. Based on initial results, the town applied for a second historic preservation grant, this one to establish the Bath Historic District.
"We'll be conducting public meetings to engage all the property owners," said Nancy Harvey, member of the Bath Town Council and driving force for town historic preservation efforts. "We'll also assist people who want to put their individual property on the Register."
Word is expected on this application by summer.
Harvey is optimistic about establishing an historic district.
"Things have changed from 30 years ago when Betty Lou Harmison and the Bicentennial Commission were trying to do it," said Harvey. "The rules are different and everything is 30 years older. The cut off date for a property to be included is 1957. That takes in most of the town structures."
Harvey became active when working to place her Wilkes Street home on the Historic Register.
"I was always interested in historic preservation, especially Williamsburg," she said.
With Harvey's leadership, the Town of Bath revitalized a Landmark Commission first established in 2000. "Having a Landmark Commission is essential for any serious effort to encourage preservation of historic properties," said Harvey.
Even the Streetscape grant project directed by the town connects to the burst of historic activity.
"Better and more appealing sidewalks will help move people around the historic district," said Sally Marshall, one of the Streetscape leaders.
A productive collaboration among the Chamber, travel council and Museum, it is funded by Washington Heritage Trail National Scenic Byway grants. The Museum has been designated an information site for the Trail.
Mozier listed several other history-related projects including a half dozen interpretive signs with historic content, the town Walking Tour booklet and the new Virtual Museum which also attracted funding from the Benedum Foundation.
"It's wonderful to see efforts at preserving what physical history we have left," said Mozier, "The signs, publications and Website get the story out there beyond any boundaries and even when the buildings are gone."