The keeper of history, Preserving Pocahontas, is the newest storefront in downtown Marlinton.
Located in the former law office of assistant prosecutor Bob Martin, the Preserving Pocahontas office is itself a cozy little piece of history.
“I found a picture the other day and it was of what was here before this building was built. It was a newsstand” Preservation officer B.J. Gudmundsson said. “It was a cute little two story building. It kind of looks like the Old Times Office.”
In the early 1930s, Anna Hunter, owner of the house that is now the Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum, entered the real estate world and built what has been known as the H-building, now home to Preserving Pocahontas.
“I don’t know what it was to begin with,” Gudmundsson said. “My mom said during World War II it was a teen center. It was where the young people could come and hang out. There was a ping pong table in the back and you could come in here and get a sandwich and drinks.”
The building later became several different eateries, one which served beer.
“I remember The Grille and it was a bar,” Gudmundsson said. “They sold beer – can, bottle and tap, I think.”
After reaching an agreement with Martin, Gudmundsson plans to have the office open for those interested in viewing the archives.
“It’s great having the space here,” she said. “I’ll bring stuff up here to work on when I’m here all day. We needed a place for people to be able to come into to access the records and look at the references.”
Gudmundsson applied for a grant from Snowshoe Foundation to purchase a computer and hard drive to keep at the office for individuals to access the archives and The Pocahontas Times archives.
The first Preserving Pocahontas photograph appeared in The Pocahontas Times in September 2010. Since then, Gudmundsson has been collecting photographs from the community for the archives and website.
“Not everything goes on the website,” she said. “If there’s a big collection and somebody brings in two-hundred photographs, you’ve got a whole bunch of photographs that are very similar to each other. You just pick out the best two or three, then the rest of them are int he archives and the catalog.”
Although the majority of the photographs are from the World War II era and older, Gudmundsson archives photos no matter what decade they represent.
“I took five hundred pictures [of the fire downtown]. Those are all going in,” she said. “I took about two hundred pictures with Jessie Powell a couple years ago up on Top of Allegheny. Those are all going in. I went up to Sharps Knob the other day and photographed where the strip mine used to be and the long walls, and the bunker. All that stuff will go in.
“People send stuff from the high school and every now and then somebody will send something that came from the eighties,” she continued. “It’s history. It seems pretty important to me to collect all that stuff now while everybody is doing it so that when we’re gone and our grandkids come along, it’s there.”
The office officially opened December 6 with an open house during the Christmas Parade. Along with an array of photographs and the World War II photo exhibit, Gudmundsson displayed two World War II uniforms that were donated to Preserving Pocahontas.
“I decided to start building a collection of uniforms,” she said. “I’ve got two wonderful uniforms that I’m going to put up here. Harlan [Whiting] brought me Shorty Sharp’s uniform with all the hats, the medals, discharge papers, letter from the President, the whole deal. We had a lot of boys that were in the service.”
Having the extensive archive collection has become helpful, especially in light of recent events. Gudmundsson found several photos of the original Bank of Marlinton, built by E.D. King, which she printed and framed to sell as a fundraiser for the Preserving Pocahontas “Connecting to Collections” Fund. A royalty is given to the Pocahontas County Historical Society for each photo sold.
The office space is shared with GoMarlinton, a non-profit organization of which Gudmundsson is a member.
For more information on Preserving Pocahontas, visit www.pocahontaspreservation.org
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org