Historical Society discusses museum repairs

The Pocahontas County Historical Society at its meeting Monday night at the County Museum.
The Pocahontas County Historical Society at its meeting Monday night at the County Museum.

The purpose of a museum is to preserve, but it can’t preserve very much without a good roof. The leaky roof on the Pocahontas County Museum was the main item of discussion during the Pocahontas County Historical Society’s first meeting of the season on Monday night.

The Museum building was built in 1904 by the Hunter family and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original, metal shingle roof remains, but has been overcoated at various times through history. The anticipated cost of installation of a new metal shingle roof, consistent with the building’s original roof, is more than $60,000. The estimated cost includes payment of prevailing wages, required if state grant money is used to complete the project.

The Pocahontas County Commission donated $10,000 for a new museum roof. The Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks Commission and the Historical Society donated $5,000 each. The Society continues to raise funds for the project and has applied for a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office. If awarded, the grant would pay 50 percent of the project cost. So, the Society must raise a minimum of $10,000 before it can move ahead with the roof project.

During its meeting Monday night, Society members inspected the interior and exterior of the Museum building. The inspection revealed the desperate need for a new roof. Waterlogged sections of ceiling and wall plaster are disintegrating and collapsing in the building’s eastern-most rooms. A Society member stepped through a section of water-damaged flooring on the second floor as the group walked through. On the exterior, portions of the soffit and fascia are rotting away due to leaks in the building’s hidden gutters.

SHPO is expected to announce a decision on the grant request in July. Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith recommended speaking to West Virginia Development Office contract architect Mike Ghioulis about alternative roof repairs, that would not jeopardize the building’s historic listing and might be less expensive.

The Society established the roof repair as its first priority and identified other building and grounds issues in need of attention.

Smith said a huge white pine tree near the museum needs to be removed to protect the museum.

“There is a white pine tree out there that is probably 200 feet tall, that could fall right across this building,” he said. “White pine has a tendency to blow the tops out of it and snap off. That tree is enormous in height and could do enormous damage.”

Smith explained that white pine trees have a shallow root system and tend to blow over in windstorms. The mayor agreed to obtain estimates from local contractors and lumber companies for removal of the tree.

Membership in the Pocahontas County Historical Society costs $10 a year. Monthly meetings are held in various locations and include presentations on topics of Pocahontas County history. For information on joining or supporting the group, call Matt Tate at 304-653-8843.

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