National Park Service looks to demolish 21 historic structures in New River Gorge, public meeting scheduled

By Autumn Shelton, RealWV

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. – Members of the public are encouraged to attend a meeting in Fayette County on Thursday, Jan. 11, to discuss the proposed demolition of 35 structures in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Of these 35 structures, 21 are considered historic and are either listed in the National Register of Historic places or are eligible for listing. 

According to a December press release from the National Park Service (NPS), these structures “came into possession of the NPS through land acquisition within established park boundaries.” 

Overall Project Vicinity and Index Map. New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. Remove Excess Structures Pre-NEPA Report. United States Department of the Interior/National Park Service.

The structures are “abandoned, dilapidated, and overgrown safety hazards that are vulnerable to trespassing and vandalism and are a burden to maintain,” the press release states, adding that the project would be funded by the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund

The structures that have been recommended for demolition, as well as their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, are:

  • Charles Ashley Outbuilding, Thurmond, potentially eligible
  • Charles Ashley Garage, Thurmond, potentially eligible
  • May Bagoski House, Thurmond, listed
  • Harold Smith House, Thurmond, listed
  • Sidney Allen Ward House, Thurmond, listed
  • Wedzel Young House, Thurmond, listed
  • Marilyn Brown House, Thurmond, listed
  • Tom Kelly House, Thurmond, listed
  • Erskine Pugh Rental House, Thurmond, listed
  • James Humphrey Sr. House, Thurmond, listed
  • Thurmond Package Plant, Thurmond, listed
  • Thurmond Ice House, Thurmond, listed
  • McGuffin Garage, Thurmond, potentially eligible
  • Philip A. McClung/Meadows House, Thurmond, listed
  • Dun Glen Building, Dun Glen, listed
  • Dun Glen Ark, Dun Glen, potentially eligible
  • Dun Glen Boat Storage Rack, Dun Glen, potentially eligible
  • Dun Glen Mini Ark, Dun Glen, potentially eligible
  • Prince Brothers’ General Store, Prince, listed
  • Harrah Coal House, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah Outbuilding #2, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah Outbuilding #1, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah Hen House, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah Smokehouse, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah House, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • Harrah Outhouse Remains, Harrah Site, not eligible
  • James K. Carper Barn, Grandview, not eligible
  • Cochrane Farm Outbuilding #1, Cochrane Farm, not eligible
  • Cochrane Farm Outbuilding #2, Cochrane Farm, not eligible
  • James Phillips Storage Building #2, Phillips Farm, not eligible
  • James Phillips Farm Shed, Phillips Farm, not eligible
  • James Phillips Outbuilding #1, Phillips Farm, not eligible
  • James Phillips House, Phillips Farm, not eligible
  • Brookside Pool Chemical Treatment Building Camp, Brookside, eligible
  • Vallandingham House (addition only), Vallandingham, potentially eligible (addition is not eligible)

While the NPS report states that these structures “create an unnecessary maintenance burden on park resources, are not central to the mission of the park and many are in a condition beyond repair,” many local residents feel as if they are integral to the history of the area and efforts must be made to preserve them. 

Fayette County Delegate David Elliott Pritt penned an op-ed, which appeared in numerous news outlets at the end of December. 

He wrote, “I am incredibly alarmed and saddened to see the news that the National Park Service plans on demolishing historic structures in the Thurmond area—our nation’s NEWEST National Park! Yes, some of these structures need to come down, but many of them do not. Some of them have even undergone preservation and renovation work in recent years! In a time where we are struggling to maintain our unique Appalachian identity and heritage as new people move into our part of the state to take advantage of our area’s natural beauty, this is just absolutely unconscionable.” 

Del. Pritt encouraged Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, as well as Congresswoman Carol Miller and Congressman Alex Mooney, to “step-in” to save these historic structures. He also encouraged concerned citizens to have their voices heard at the public meeting. 

“We were led to believe that this new National Park designation for the New River Gorge area would bring tourism dollars and economic development to our area, and would work to preserve the dwindling number of historic structures we have left—not fast-track the destruction and demolition of our culture and history.”

The public meeting will be held at the Bank of Glen Jean, located at 23 County Route 25/9, (Mt. Hope) from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, public comments may be submitted online until Jan. 15 by clicking here. Additional information from the Pre-NEPA (New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Excess Structure Demolition project) report is also available at the previous link. 

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