Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 27, 2013

W.Va. group adds 5 properties to endangered list

Associated Press

CHARLESTON — The last remaining structure of a resort in Greenbrier County is among five structures the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has put on its 2013 list of endangered historic properties.

Built in 1845, the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion about 9 miles north of Alderson was once part of a resort where a doctor administered the nation’s first mud baths. The alliance says the Greek Revival pavilion hasn’t been maintained for years and is deteriorating. The resort was once a bivouac and hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War — until Union troops burned it.

The Greenbrier Historical Society is working with the current owner to buy the pavilion and some surrounding land in hopes of opening a new heritage tourism site.

Other properties on this year’s list are the Second Presbyterian Church in Wheeling, the Ananias Pitsenbarger Farm in Franklin, the Abruzzino Mansion in Shinnston and the “Westly,” a Sears Kit House in Lewisburg.

The alliance releases its annual list to raise awareness of historic properties that are threatened by both human and environmental factors such as demolition, neglect and inappropriate development.

Earlier this month, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin awarded more than $335,000 in grants to the State Historic Preservation Office for 17 projects. They included $47,194 for the Wheeling church and $35,000 for the Blue Sulphur springhouse.

The Second Presbyterian Church is a Greek Revival structure that has stood at its current site since 1850 and was the heart of Wheeling’s abolitionist movement. It’s also the place where the Rev. Richard Dodge formed the first Young Men’s Christian Association, or YMCA.

Part of the roof collapsed in the summer of 2011. The trusses had been weakened when they were cut and modified to hang a chandelier in the sanctuary. The building is now owned by the Near Earth Object Foundation, which hopes to reopen it for presentations, plays and educational events, as well as an urban observatory.

The Ananias Pitsenbarger was a self-sustaining, three-family operation from 1799 to 1973, consisting of 23 log-and-frame structures hand-built from local materials. The alliance says the farm looks much as it did 100 years ago, with distinct German features such as hand-carved wood hinges and pegs.

The Neoclassical Abruzzino Mansion was built in 1921 for businessman Frank Abruzzino. It originally had 28 rooms, four bathrooms and a third-floor ballroom but was converted into apartments in the 1960s. The current owners were restoring the mansion when a 2010 fire destroyed the west wing and much of the red-tile roof.

The Westly is the youngest of the structures on the list, one of the many built from Sears Roebuck and Co.’s mail-order catalogs in the early 20th century.

Sears homes were delivered as more than 10,000 labeled pieces with assembly instructions. The Westly was assembled in 1924 and was purchased in 1941 by the Greenbrier County Commission. It’s been vacant for years.