Bath Landmarks group gears up to educate citizens on local historic value, aid town projects

by Trish Rudder

One of the outcomes of the January 12 Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) meeting was a decision by members to design and distribute a pamphlet about the HLC, its historic properties and the value of maintaining history in the Town of Bath.

Member Zachary Salman offered to design an 8-1/2 by 11 tri-fold pamphlet that will be distributed to the community. The draft design is to be ready at the end of January to present at the February meeting for review, said HLC president John Mason.

Property owners Gale and Gareth Foulds shared their experience when they restored a home in the Capitol Hill historic district in Washington D.C. before moving to Berkeley Springs.

Gareth Foulds said they worked with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) that is a 501(c) 3.

He said as a non-profit organization, it can help citizens get the things they need.

“A non-profit Society is the way to go,” he said.

He said restorations on Capitol Hill were so different than the restoration of Joe’s Radio Shop on Congress Street in Berkeley Springs.

“There were no architectural drawings needed with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society; they didn’t care what was on the inside,” he said.

“We did not have inspections,” Foulds said.

“Have the citizens agree on this – not the bankers,” he said.

Foulds said the non-profit organization could be made up of volunteers as a group of concerned citizens. He said the town’s volunteers are getting older, and the town needs younger volunteers.

He suggested the Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s bylaws be reviewed.

“CHRS is a volunteer organization, made up of Hill residents who love their historic neighborhoods and want to ensure that the unique character of the Hill is around for future generations,” the group’s website says.

Foulds said the Society hosts fundraising events, one of which is held around Mother’s Day where they have tours of restored homes on Capitol Hill. He said people viewed the restored houses, which were modern on the inside but historic on the outside.

“Most places have a non-profit organization as well as a HLC,” Salman said. He suggested one for the town and one for the county.

Train Depot & Cemetery

Town Recorder Susan Webster, who chairs the Train Depot committee, gave an update of the restoration project and told the commission that “it is an opportunity for the HLC to make improvements to the property like historic signage and lighting on the property through grants,” she said.

Bath Councilwoman Elizabeth Skinner, who chairs the Cemetery committee, told the commission that the HLC could help with the town-owned cemeteries. She said that buildings in Greenway Cemetery have been neglected and wants to partner with the HLC for grant funding.

Mason said he wants the HLC to make the community aware that “we are moving forward.”

He said educating the community should include attorneys and bankers of the historic landmarks.

He wants the committee to be the point of contact for new owners to know the group is “there to help,” Mason said.

Going forward, more training is needed for the members. They will work on grants and help with ongoing projects at the Train Depot and the Cemetery, Mason said.

Next, they want to make improvements in education to the community and add plaques to new properties.

Bath volunteer Larry Landon, who chairs the town’s Planning Commission, said educating the citizens is needed.

He said he lives on North Wilkes Street and most of the folks on Wilkes Street need to know if they are eligible for certain things and what the benefits are.

The next Historic Landmarks Commission meeting is on Thursday, February 16, 2 p.m. at the Bath Town Hall.