The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 17, 2013

State agency approves demolition of old school

By C.V. Moore
The Register-Herald

MOUNT HOPE — After a year-long process, a state agency has approved the demolition of a former school building in Mount Hope, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the town’s Historic Landmarks Commission have come to an agreement on how to mitigate the loss of the historic structure, located at 510 Main St.

When news of the school’s imminent demise was announced at Mount Hope’s council meeting, a hearty round of applause broke out among attendees.

Built circa 1925 and damaged by fire in 2006, the two-story brick school was built by the town’s Masonic order and owned by Mount Hope United Methodist Church.

Though it has been condemned, SHPO views it as a “contributing resource” to the historic district.

The agreement between SHPO and the town spells out mitigation measures intended to offset the loss of the structure, some of which have already been completed.

The city will fully document the property through a written history and photos. They will create a web page about the Mount Hope Historic District on the city’s website, which will include historic and current pictures of buildings, as well as historical narratives.

The building’s cornerstone and some of the bricks will be saved. With these, the city will create a monument near the site with interpretive signs.

An asbestos abatement at the school will begin Aug. 1, according to Lesley Taylor of the Region IV Planning and Development Council. Demolition can’t begin before completing this process.

The town has also signed an agreement with SHPO to bring down several other structures in the historic district. These are located at 106, 108, 110, and 112 Main St. and at 310 and 314 Madison St.

The asbestos abatement is complete on these structures and demolition will begin any day, said Taylor.

The city is waiting for approval from SHPO on four additional structures that are not in the historic district but are in the line of sight of the district. Taylor expects clearance in the next 10 days.

These structures are in addition to roughly two dozen blighted structures outside the historic district that are being torn down under a $1.5 million Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant, according to Mayor Michael Martin.

Because these are federal funds, the project is subject to review under National Historic Preservation Act guidelines.