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[Kimball] World War Memorial restoration wins architecture award

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The first time I drove through Kimball, and the region as a whole, I passed by decay after decay. Towns like Welch had entire city blocks devoid of people and of businesses. Dozens of houses literally crumbling. Hospitals non-existent. Entire towns all but gone. Welcome to southern and western West Virginia.

The only saving grace has not been mountaintop mining -- which has sheered off the tops of mountains for very little short-term gain -- but recreation and tourism. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail network generates millions of profits every year, although the trails do drive through some mountaintop removal sites. Cities like Gilbert are seeing a bit of revival, with coffee shops and stores replacing what was once vacant districts.

This World War Memorial was abandoned, then gutted by fire, and now has been restored. After seeing photographs during its abandoned years and after the fire, it was a wonder how they pulled this off!

Lincoln High wins architecture award

1. The war memorial is the first and only remaining memorial for African-American World War I soldiers in the United States.

2. It was home for many years to the first all-black American Legion Post in the state. It was a neo-classical brick building with a second-floor auditorium and was a 'cultural center'.

3. It was designed by Hassel T. Hicks of Welch, and was constructed in 1928. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

4. In 1984, restoration plans began after the memorial was abandoned. In 1991, a fire gutted the interior.

5. The McDowell County Museum Commission -- featuring mostly black military veterans -- raised more than $1 million to repair the building.

6. The interior and exterior were rehabilitated. Clarksburg architect Ralph Pederson poured over old photographs and 'sometimes counted individual bricks to determine the original dimensions.' After discovering the original blueprints later, they discovered that Pederson was not off by more than 3 inches! :thumbsup:

Article information: "Lincoln High wins architecture award, By Jim Balow, Charleston Gazette, April 23, 2007"

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