Page 1




WEST VIRGINIAN? see pg. 104

Snow Days

Celebrate the simple pleasures and scenic treasures of winter in West Virginia.

Forensic science solves more than crimes.

It uncovers history in the present. And tells us what life was like for a World War I African-American soldier whose helmet carries evidence of battles survived. It partners disciplines to find answers – and uses science to bring the past to light.

volume 7 ◆ ISSUE 4

Winter 2014 carla witt ford

 features 





Living in Clarksburg

Get the Drift

Movie Palace

Zip across West Virginia’s wonderful winter landscapes on a snowmobile.

Huntington’s historic Keith-Albee Theatre shines bright in Cabell County.

Are You a Real West Virginian?

This West Virginia city is steeped in history and piled high with great Italian-American fare.

See how your Mountain State knowledge stacks up—from pepperoni rolls to the great outdoors. 5

volume 7 ◆ ISSue 4



73 25 spotlight

15 Dining da Vinci’s in Williamstown has great Italian food and top-notch service.

18 Dining logan’s Hot Cup is the town’s goto place for joe.

25 Shopping A tradition of finding the

best shoes and accessories began at yarid’s in lewisburg.

28 Shopping Contemporary Galleries in

Charleston offers up a world of possibilities for any modern room.

30 Preservation The old fayetteville High School gets a new lease on life.

34 West Virginian Who Rocks Meet Paul dooley. you’ve seen him in everything from Breaking Away (1979) to Parenthood (2014).

36 Play West Virginia University’s basketball practice facility is also a public museum.


43 Lodging The Isaac Jackson Hotel in

Elkins is changing the way we think about where we rest our heads for the night.

in every issue 8 Editor’s letter 10 letters to the Editor 112 The Parting Shot

49 Art The wooden art spoons of

Parkersburg’s norm Sartorius are more than meets the eye.

53 Travel Helvetia, Thurmond, Cass—there’s

something special about these tiny places of less than 100 people.

57 Living Local This plush House of

On the Cover A frosty morning image of Paw Paw Creek in Grant Town. Photo by Carla Witt Ford

Hounds is no average doghouse.

62 Spaces The holidays are truly bright as this


grand home in Philippi is transformed each year for Christmas.

69 Celebrations Make your baby shower stand out with these dIy tips and recipes.

73 Food read the results of the West Virginia biscuit bake off, plus recipes.



WEST V RGIN AN? s e pg 0

Snow Days

Celebrate the simple pleasures and scen c treasures of winter in West Virginia

6 wvl • winter 2014

editor’s let ter I really enjoyed my behind the scenes tour of the historic Keith-Albee Theatre

Don’t hibernate!


ypically when I write my editor’s letter I’m working on it far in advance of the first snow. I usually wax poetic about the joys of those first fallen flakes and the serenity of mountains dotted with whitetipped trees. This year, however, I’ve already experienced two snowfalls—before midNovember. With predictions of a winter that will surpass last year’s chilly temperatures, I find myself dreading the dip of the thermometer and dreaming of hibernation. But given the blow that frigid temperatures dealt our small businesses and outdoor meccas last year, it is more important than ever to not succumb to our hibernation tendencies. As tempting as it is to stay indoors cozying up with a cup of hot chocolate—unless you are curled up on an amazing couch purchased at Contemporary Galleries (page 28)—let’s make a commitment to remember and support our local businesses, especially when the world seemingly shuts down. Support places like

8 wvl • winter 2014

Hot Cup in Logan, an uber cool coffee shop that has become quite the local gathering spot for artists, children, professionals, and retirees alike. Or fill up at restaurants like Da Vinci’s in Williamstown (page 15) and the plethora of much beloved eateries in Clarksburg like Wonder Bar Steakhouse, Julio’s Café, and The Fifth Floor (page 85). While you are in Clarksburg, make sure you spend some time investigating this historic Harrison County city (page 80). There is much to see and do— and eat, of course. Wicked Sisters Clothing Boutique, Embellishments, and Oliverio’s Bridal and Prom Boutique are must-stop shops for fashionistas. And you won’t want to leave without buying a pepperoni roll or two. If the temps aren’t life-threatening, get outdoors—after, of course, you protect your feet from frostbite with a trip to Yarid’s. This locally owned store, with locations in Charleston, Lewisburg, and at The Greenbrier, is a treasure trove for those of us who have shoe addictions. After your toes are toasty, make plans to snowmobile (page 88). If you haven’t tried this activity, you need to. This family-fun recreation is exhilarating and a fabulous way to take in amazing winter scenery. You can rent snowmobiles at Snowshoe and take guided day or night tours.

in downtown Huntington. See our story on the amazing performing arts center on page 98.

Stay warm indoors by attending a show at one of our grand theaters like the KeithAlbee (page 98). The Keith-Albee Theatre is truly one of our state’s architectural gems. If you aren’t blessed to call Huntington home, its magical gothic interiors and amazing pipe organ are well worth the trip. Or take in a musical production at American Mountain Theater and stay the night at one of Elkins’ new accommodations, the Isaac Jackson Hotel (page 43). Make sure you enjoy the cinnamon rolls at the accompanying 1863 Grill Restaurant. You’ll thank me for that. Check out our “Are you a REAL West Virginian?” quiz on page 104. With each issue of the magazine, we hope to introduce you to places you’ve never been, to remind you about places you love, and to make you proud to be a West Virginian. Show your pride and passion by supporting our local businesses, by shopping small, by traveling thoughtfully, and by not hibernating this winter season.

nikki bowman, Editor Follow us on

, instagram: theWVeditor


, and


Let ter s to the editor

Did you even visit Wheeling? Ritter Park is nice enough, but it isn’t even remotely close to Oglebay in terms of being the best local park. Oglebay isn’t just half a body length better than Ritter, it is one of the best municipal parks in the whole world. And, really now, Huntington’s restaurant scene being better than that in Morgantown? I went to graduate school in Huntington. I just know you don’t really mean that. h. paul garvin, via email WV Living Response: Paul, thank you for your email. The Best of WV awards are reader chosen. We tally the thousands of votes of our readers to determine the winners. We do not choose them on our own. We were at Oglebay recently, and we agree with you that it is spectacular—a true gem! Hope this explains the process!

Quality Work

Best of WV?

Being a Morgantown citizen resident, I am a fan of your magazine. I recently read your “Best of West Virginia” article (Fall 2014), and although some of it was spot on, there were some areas I thought lacked real insight.

10 wvl • winter 2014

I wanted to share with you my love for your publications. I know when I pick up one of your magazines I am getting a quality work product, not only from the content inside but also by the way your magazine feels in my hand. Great work over at New South Media. matt mcmillion, ywca charleston, via email

“Love the magazine and am proud that it represents our state with style and class.” kimberly wickes, via

Good Work

WV Living is great magazine. Keep up the good work. I really love it. Thanks, sue cain, via mail

Awesome Representation

I love this magazine. It is awesome representation of West Virginia! Thanks to all of the people who work so hard on this publication! cherie payne jenkins, via Facebook

Let teR s to the eDitoR

“I wanted to thank you for the nice article you did ... You captured Raw Talent Ranch really well in our condensed and transit chat.” jay moglia, raw talent ranch, via email


The Raw n Tal nt Ranch y Ha dy Count a h s be ome for d st na io pr f ss onal

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s New Road road rip


10 wvl • outd


y cy l s s Th r vel o W st he V rg nia for t e e c pe and for d vid ch l enge pr area y tr i s n he

t the best part abou says But he t affic smog hooked ” he it doesn’t have t River ranch is what is lose to Lo le and ns The barn blaring ho to Wardensvi l ke and it’s close e there it feels Sta e Park when you’r but going d I’ve been Moorefiel out there Now you’re really years ” about seven seasons Lost successful After eight t Ranch has Raw Talen like n’s sts Ba r cycli Rive na ion for pro iah become a desti i Ben King and Jerem the owsk escape for Joe Domb come for the The Bishop They adventure and for an cter They ’re challenge he e have chara es mo e mountains harder pitch got ’ve These tougher They challenging di t oads and y go backwoods la ed but th o Do ly heavily popu areas aren’t can do a r de ” Jay says “You do it all ime every whe e Vi ginia we into ll find st oss I c Sods or this time ven af er all You can Surpri ingly l these old roads know There a e a new outes he locals they and rs alk o the hunte you have to get permission imes lored them Some of acres of unexp yea s e thousands but the e a mo e han 10 After ” ty and d there lands aroun Hardy Coun rout s back roads of of his favorite of riding the re orded some e says Jay Shan beyond Jay’s barn ou e s copies at the n a cus om and p ovide known to desig ask Norma ly has ven been hey gue ts when just le ve They ey or two for his ee Jay or Audr But once you don’t even some wine or cookies ” times ride with you a key some l come out and wi Jay on le nuati of in a wh anch is a conti e all the For Jay the place wher path It’s a his l fe have his winding dirt paths of and anch ds ough the lit le inroa oge her Alth draws in a final ly come ion the barn front get lo t up there d eam vacat cyc ist cou d rippers to its is a cyc ist’s location A ies and road Lost enova ions hing for a quiet h ke s fami r ding a ound good w y with physical l Anyone searc He had been already ow g asses each door as we Jay d dn’t stop and re ha ge Audrey had to play and st waving mead a home there s and he and oasis amid ed musicians and he o d the area in 2004 find little s invit in River for yea He could event acres he gorgeous u bed sky can see the ly “It arted cyc ing and undis for ale in 2005 purchased 11 people You there he s got out quick it does for found the barn dn’t rea ly know knew Word p ople ex ra benefit “I see what but when he “I d h and hen everyone he says The people turn it down word of mout ays “Then teams transfo mation ” Jay l in pretty g it impact just couldn’t s arted with and it was sti ” he visa the that and seein doing at all ing about it training of sharing element and amazing and what I was were blogg having their y the pot was them in your ience every time ” ng out and and seeing ed sol d Ever bad shape But it a l star ed started comi s for an expe it gets book That’s how the he in make When you Now huge it farm from rful was l versa ba n a cattle camps here is so pow season is fu ” ty had been the backdrop w it had good weekend during he one cyc ist s things up kn is The p ope And h Jay open ay Rauc just e xt it ite ome de uary ” Shan cou dn’t time and put it in conte 1930s Desp end of Febr ey p it heir the ranch and com to Aud hey n way and ged ranch he his raw alent bones So by hand Whe of him belon who found ott i g that part ting the place a man was a mikenna pier son photography began enova shake the feelin public the barn low t the barn from writ en by ed it o the ye d out abou chris jack year we went fina ly open h re “I foun al wi h soft com 1 first og aphed by anim ving pho t The ous wvli club d fferen ntly a spaci our cycling comple ely e bedrooms we were insta with in shutte s fi met Jay and en and a deck s ding wood up there we tubs a fu l kitch element was its loft Jacuzzi r ant the most impo a gr ll But

correction: There are two elementary schools in Bridgeport. That information was incorrect in the fall issue of WV Living.

Let us hear from you. We want to know what you think about the magazine, and we’d love to hear your suggestions. Email: Call: 304.413.0104 Mail: 709 beechurst Avenue, Suite 14A, Morgantown, WV 26505

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oors 2014 11

VOLUME 7, ISSUE 4 Published by

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New South Media, Inc. 1116 Smith Street, Suite 211 Charleston, WV 25301

304.413.0104 EdITor

Nikki Bowman,


Carla Witt Ford,


Laura Wilcox Rote,


Pam Kasey,


Sarah Shaffer,


Elizabeth Roth,


Katie Griffith, Shay Maunz, Mikenna Pierotti,





Nikki Bowman, Carla Witt Ford, Zack Rawson, Elizabeth Roth Carla Witt Ford Jack Baronner Christa Hamra, Season Martin, Amanda Eskew, Bekah Call, Subscription rate is $20 for 4 issues. Subscribe at or call 304.413.0104. Back issues may be purchased online at or by calling 304.413.0104. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted. Please send queries by email to

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A L WI T R 2 14






P us h ndre s of v nues br da shops flo i ts c ke de ign rs and mor !

Wes V g n a s m st ow r u wom n a e b e k ng he t us q o a d p o i g t a l a e sh p h s no e der

Just Hitched


WV Living is published by new South Media, Inc. Subscription rates: $20 for one year. frequency: Quarterly. Copyright: new South Media, Inc. reproduction in part or whole is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of the publisher. © new South Media, Inc. All rIGHTS rESErVEd

12 wvl • winter 2014

CArlA WITT ford

Sweet Moments Take time out for yourself this season and get a taste of something new. PICTURED: THE DONUT SHOP, BUCKHANNON, PAGE 20

the shoppes at seneca center Âť 709 beechurst avenue, morgantown



A Masterpiece Meal This classic Williamstown restaurant serves up inspired Italian fare in Wood County.


t Da Vinci’s Restaurant, the overwhelming feeling is of abundance. It’s there in the food—mounds of pasta covered in rich sauces, glasses brimming with generous pours of wine, layers of sugar rising high off the plate to form luxurious desserts. It’s there on the menu—a two-page spread that reveals an impressive slate of options, from pizza and subs to pasta and steak. And it’s there in the restaurant itself—a huge building that spans three floors and seats hundreds. As a hostess leads you to your table you’re swept past one room after another, each filled with guests chatting, laughing, and eating. And that’s likely to be true no matter when you go—Da Vinci’s in Wood County is always busy. In 1978 Jim and Marilyn Pettit bought an old Sunoco gas station in Williamstown and set about turning it into a pizza shop—as the story goes, they took out a variable rate loan to do it, and the interest rate eventually grew to a whopping 23 percent. But they persevered and opened for business in 1980, serving a simple menu of pizza and subs. “We started out as one little dining room and a salad bar—we had 13 tables,” says Chris Bender. Chris has been at Da Vinci’s almost since the beginning. She started working for the Pettits as a server three decades ago, and rose through the ranks over the years until she was managing the entire place. “This wasn’t what I wanted to do forever—this was just a stepping stone, this was to pay my way through college,” she says. “But I loved the people—I loved the customers, I loved the employees. They’re my friends. So I never left.” Two years ago Chris bought the restaurant from the Pettits, who were by then living in North Carolina and helping their daughter run a restaurant there. “I’m here every day, all day,” Chris says. “I figured if I’m going to live here I may as well own it.” Since it opened Da Vinci’s has expanded manifold. That tiny pizza joint in a gas station could serve 52 people. Now the restaurant serves up a full menu of Italian fare in a sprawling establishment that can seat 550 on a rainy day and up to 600 when the patio is open. Seating is divided between several rooms, so even though the restaurant is huge, it feels intimate. “We have all these different sections, and each 15

spotlight clockwise from left

Many regulars visit Da Vinci’s week after week. The German Pizza is a specialty.

room kind of has its own aura,” Chris says. When you walk through the front door you see an elegant but basic dining room—it’s well lit and near the door. Downstairs is a private room used mainly for banquets, and if you step up about 10 stairs you feel like you’re in a different restaurant entirely—it’s dimly lit and filled with twisting greenery. “It’s a vineyard feel,” Chris says. “It feels almost like a California field.” Step through another door, though, and you’re in a glassed-in porch that employees call “the solarium.” There’s also a lounge area near the bar that Chris describes as “very dark and Tuscany feeling,” and a private room used for things like wedding showers that you have to climb 20 feet of stairs 16 wvl • winter 2014

to get to. “When people come in they not only request their favorite server, but they request their favorite room,” Chris says. They also request their favorite dishes, of course, and Da Vinci’s isn’t short on crowd pleasers—several creations are unique to Da Vinci’s. Take the German Pizza, for example. It’s a Da Vinci’s pizza crust topped with horseradish sauce in lieu of tomato sauce, plus corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese. “You either love it or you hate it,” Chris says, but most people love it. Jim Pettit invented the dish back in the early days of the restaurant, playing around in the kitchen, and it quickly caught on—it was soon so popular he had it trademarked. Then there’s the Pasta Mona

The bar is elegant and well-stocked. Desserts are some of the most popular dishes.

Lisa, another bestseller that’s trademarked. It’s thin spaghetti baked with meat sauce, mozzarella cheese, green peppers, and pepperoni. “We build it from the bottom up,” Chris says. “It’s like we’re building Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa—everything is artfully topped.” In addition to the regular menu, the restaurant has an extensive list of specials that change every day—all the better to accommodate the regulars who come in several times a week. To help customers navigate that rotating menu, the restaurant has a master list of regular customers, their phone numbers, and their favorite specials. Whenever that dish is on the menu, that customer gets a call letting them know. The call list for dessert items is especially long—and people especially love the coconut cream pie. “There are a lot of things we have only as specials that are absolutely wonderful, and when people get the call they run in for them,” Chris says. Just like everything at Da Vinci’s, the call list has been around for years, enduring even as most other places have transitioned to text messages or email blasts. “We like that personal feeling,” Chris says. “We’re connected with our customers here, and we like it that way.” da vinci’s

215 Highland Avenue, Williamstown, WV 26187 304.375.3633, written by shay

maunz witt ford

photographed by carla


Spectacular, Spectacular

The Greenbrier lights up inside and out for the holidays. holidays at the greenbrier are nothing short of magical. Ice skating, carriage rides, ice sculptures, and a dazzling display of lights will put any Scrooge in the holiday spirit. Overnight and day guests alike are welcome to participate in what The Greenbrier is calling “60 Spectacular Days of Holiday Cheer,” from November through New Year’s. Each Saturday in December, guests will be treated to the lighting of The Greenbrier’s giant Christmas tree that stands at the entrance to the resort. Elsewhere on the grounds, light displays depict everything from The Nativity to Santa Claus playing basketball. There’s even a line of triangular trees—made of lights—that flash

along with music. The famous springhouse gets in the holiday spirit, too. Lights cover the domed top and spiral down each column for a truly breathtaking effect. Seasonal decor adorns The Greenbrier inside and out during the holidays, but the real center of everything Christmas is across the street from the hotel. Enter the Christmas Shop at the Depot for a fullscale immersion into holiday cheer. The old train depot is bursting with ornaments, nutcrackers, and other holiday novelties. The Christmas Shop opens on November 1 each year, kicking off the holiday season at The Greenbrier. written and photographed by elizabeth roth 17



A Bold Roast

Hot Cup is bringing coffee and culture to the southern coalfields.


he idea for Logan’s local coffee shop, Hot Cup Coffee, was born in an unlikely place: a Starbucks somewhere in Ohio. It was 2011, and Michael Cline was on vacation for a few days. “I’m standing in this Ohio Starbucks, looking out the window and staring at another Starbucks,” he says. “And I’m thinking about Logan, where there’s not one decent place to get good coffee.” He was still thinking about this days later, when he came home and told a friend, almost joking, about his idea to open a coffee shop. “I just said it casually,” he says. “But six months later I opened Hot Cup.” People advised him against it at first— Michael heard from many folks who said Logan, a small town smack dab in the middle of West Virginia’s southern coalfields, wouldn’t embrace a locally owned coffeehouse. “A lot of people tried to persuade me not to do it,” he says. “I gambled on the fact that a lot of people wanted something a little classier, a little cooler in Logan.” That gamble paid off big time—Hot Cup was immediately a hit and has grown in leaps and bounds over the last three years. By the shop’s first anniversary, Michael had opened a second shop on the campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, and by the second anniversary he’d moved the flagship shop into a bigger space downtown. “It turned out that a lot of people wanted coffee that is better than what they could get at a gas station or a McDonald’s, which are the only other options around here,” Michael says. Hot Cup serves up two different roasts of drip coffee, plus an eclectic mix of espresso drinks. The drink menu includes all the things you’d expect, like plain old cappuccino and lattes, but there’s also a slew of drinks you won’t see anywhere else, all with eye-catching names: The Truffle Shuffle, The Butterbeer, The Bacon-ccinno (and yes, that’s a baconflavored cappuccino). “We call it being in the

18 wvl • winter 2014

says. “This is the one place where that one high school kid who feels like an outcast can come and feel welcomed.” Hot Cup’s walls are lined with art made by locals—Michael invites everyone to show and sell their art there and doesn’t collect a commission. The back of the space has a small stage, and in the evenings it’s a venue for local bands. “It’s sort of our Hard Rock Cafe for nerds,” Michael says. Then there’s the Harry Potter Reading Room, a tiny room decked out to resemble Harry’s cupboard under the stairs—fans of the series will remember that that’s where his awful aunt and uncle made him sleep before he left for Hogwarts. The room is brimming with Harry Potter paraphernalia, plus cool books for young adults. “It’s a push for literacy—if it takes something flashy like that to get kids to read then so be it,” Michael says. “We want Hot Cup to be a place where kids can get exposed to music, literature, and art. You’d be amazed how many of them have used the word sanctuary to describe it.”

Hot Cup is an oasis for creative people in Logan, with a Harry Potter Reading Room, local art on the walls, and the best coffee for miles and miles.

lab,” Michael says. “That’s when I’m behind the counter literally making stuff up, tasting it, and deciding what works and what doesn’t.” Michael’s personal favorite is The Boss, which is named for him—it’s bold coffee, sugar-free Irish Cream syrup and steamed skim milk, with whipped cream on top. Another bestseller is The Derp, named for a clumsy employee—that’s a white mocha latte plus almond syrup. The menu also includes bagels, sandwiches, and soups—the chicken pot pie soup is especially popular. But Hot Cup is more than just a coffee shop. It’s also a hub for arts and culture in Logan County. “I think every small town deserves a little coffee shop, a place where open-minded people and intellectuals can meet,” Michael

hot cup

201 Stratton Street, Logan, WV 25601, 304.752.6500 written by shay

maunz bowman

photographed by nikki

local fl avor

Do or Doughnut?

With mouthwatering treats found statewide, we think the answer is easy. written by katie griffith | photographed by nikki bowman & carla witt ford


603 South Virginia Avenue Bridgeport, WV


The donut Shop in buckhannon doesn’t mince words. neither do its reviewers. “Scrumptious,” “decadent,” “best doughnut shop ever,” are just a few of the terms describing this shop’s sugary round concoctions. best sellers are the boston cream, chocolate iced doughnuts, blueberry cake doughnuts, and sprinkles for the kids. 51 North Locust Street, Buckhannon, 304.472.9328

JR’S DONUT CASTLE open seven days a week ’round the clock, Jr’s is the obvious choice for locals and Parkersburg visitors with a sweet tooth. This shop has been family owned and operated since the start and prioritizes quality and service. best sellers are the glazed and maple cream doughnuts. 3318 Emerson Avenue, Parkersburg, 304.428.9097 Tues-Thurs 11-9 / Fri-Sat 11-10 Sun-Mon Available for Private Parties Outdoor Seating Available

NU ERA BAKERY originally opened in 1940, this logan County establishment has long been known for delectable treats. Today it’s owned by larry and libby Albright, and the shop sells nearly 60 dozen doughnuts each day. Stop in early for the bismark, a glazed doughnut with chocolate icing and a dollop of buttercream on top. 120 Stratton Street, Logan 304.752.2033

Embellishments Too 106 East Main Street Downtown Bridgeport


Your Local Source for Trollbeads, Brighton, Leather Products, and so much more. Our Decorative Accessories and Wall Art will blow you away!!! Fashion Apparel and Accessories from Head to Toe.

20 wvl • winter 2014

FRANK’S PASTRY SHOP doughnuts from scratch, 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., every weekday in Chester. This full-service bakery offers a baker’s dozen of mouthwatering seasonal treats—maple bacon doughnuts through fall, pumpkin with cream cheese ’til Christmas, and round filled cream doughnuts year ’round. 430 Carolina Avenue Chester, 304.387.0136

DUNMORE COUNTRY MART & BAKERY Way high up in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia sits a little shop and bakery selling the best doughnuts to be found more than 2,000 feet above sea level. owner Kevin fraser says the vanilla, maple, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate doughnuts are all popular with locals and guests driving in to experience the beauty of Pocahontas County. 11 Potomac Highland Trail, Dunmore, 304.456.3483

BECKY’S DOUGHNUT HUT This newly established Elkins eatery sells more than 30 varieties of doughnuts and counting. becky’s opened in August 2014, making fresh doughnuts for 99 cents each. Take home a dozen for $8.99. The store is open 3 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through friday, and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 1087 Beverly Pike, Elkins, 304.300.0924


Jackson’s Mill Alight

Local groups decorate to spread holiday cheer. WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston lights up like icicles in sunshine from the first of December to the first of the new year for the Winter Lights at Jackson’s Mill celebration. As part of the festivities, local groups adopt cottages on the grounds to decorate. You won’t find any lawn inflatables or colored lights here. “It is definitely a traditional Christmas,” says Elaina Massey, executive director of the Mountain Lakes Convention & Visitors Bureau. The dining hall, assembly hall, and farm area are decorated with fresh greenery, ribbon, and lights, too. But the people are the real focal point. “We have been doing it for 14 or 15 years. We want to celebrate the holidays with the community,” says Dean Hardman, program specialist at Jackson’s Mill. Elaina says being a part of the celebration is fun for the whole family. “We have a really good time decorating in the cold. We bring snacks and drinks like hot chocolate.” The Winter Lights, Buffet, and Craft Show will take place December 12, 2014, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for youth ages 4 to 12 (cash or check only). written by jack baronner photographed by elizabeth roth 21


A Slice of Americana

the day everyone is caked in mud, scratched, and cold, but laughing. This first creek cleanup project only covered about two miles of Mill Creek Water Trail’s 22-mile stretch, but it’s a start. “We had ordinary folks handin-hand cleaning up the creek This Jackson County community has that day,” says Sally Blessing, secretary of Main Street Rippride in spades—and parades. ley’s board of directors. “It felt good.” The hope is that their work will lead It’s a warm September morning and 50 people to a revitalization and turn Ripley into a desare gathered on the banks of Mill Creek near tination for kayaking, canoeing, and campRipley—high school students, kids from a local ing—one of many efforts in this tiny town to Christian camp, business owners, families, not only support the local economy but also even the mayor. They wade knee-deep in the to inspire the next generation of activists. cool waters, digging out debris—old tires, tree “That sense of ownership in town and pride limbs, bits of plastic—and stuff it into canoes in where you live is passed on,” Sally says. and garbage bags for disposal. By the end of 22 wvl • winter 2014

Ripley bursts with Events like this are nothing out of the ordinary pride and is known in Ripley. The community has banded together to for its events and restore the historic Alpine Theatre, put on events like the arts—from the Mountain State the annual Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, form Art & Craft Fair to a convention and visitors bureau, and honor military the restored Alpine veterans. Readers of WV Living voted it Town with Theatre. Most Community Pride in 2014. With a population of less than 4,000, it is Norman Rockwell-esque, not only in its quaint businesses, shops, and dining, but in its sense of belonging. “I’ve lived in other counties and community pride is sometimes overregulated. Ripley lets you live. It’s a pride that comes from the people, from within—not from the government. That’s what we all have in common, a sense of being neighbors,” Sally says. This manifests itself in big turnouts for high school events, residents who take the ‘shop local’ movement to heart, and lots and lots of parades. “We may lead the state in parades per capita,” says Mike Ruben, Ripley Convention and Visitors Bureau director. The city is also known for having the biggest small-town Independence Day celebration in America. “In many ways Ripley epitomizes the Fourth of July in America, those values. It’s a slice of Americana,” he says. Carolyn Rader, Ripley’s mayor, says natives and transplants feel equally at home here in Jackson County. “We all strive to make everyone feel welcome, no matter how long they’re staying. We’re proud of our families, our city, and our different heritages,” she says. “I think the common denominator is that we all work together.” written by mikenna

pierotti bowman

photographed by nikki 23


Polar Plunge

Fearless folks in Greenbrier County dive into icy waters. the greenbrier valley polar Bear Plunge Club is not for everyone. This group is not full of big white bears, but hardy individuals who do something every year that makes most people cringe—dive into the winter water like polar bears. Christian Giggenbach and family started the Polar Bear Plunge at Blue Bend Recreation Area in 2001. “My mother, Kay Sweet Giggenbach, was not well. After a life filled with youthful exuberance, her frail body was giving out and our family knew it,” says Christian, co-founder and president of the club. Christian, his two brothers, and stepbrother wanted to do something that took courage—that would lift their mother’s spirits. They decided to jump into Anthony Creek at Blue Bend that winter. Fast-forward several years, and the tradition has become a tradition that helps another cause—raising awareness around child abuse. All proceeds from the event benefit the Child and Youth Advocacy Center to help end child abuse in the Greenbrier Valley. “The psychological fear of jumping into the 36-degree water pales in comparison to the fear that the children feel when preyed upon by adults who are supposed to protect them,” Christian says. The next plunge is scheduled to take place March 7, 2015, and all are welcome to take the dive or donate. 304.645.4668 written by jack

24 wvl • winter 2014




Big-City Fashion

A family business spans three generations off ering fashion-forward trends at Yarid’s.


t’s the quintessential American story— an immigrant comes to America searching for prosperity and, with a little luck, starts a business that can provide for his family for many years to come. It’s also the story of Yarid’s, a store that was first established in Lewisburg in 1918. Samuel Yarid was an immigrant from Lebanon when he moved to the Greenbrier Valley with his wife, Dora, in the early 1900s. The clothing store they founded would go on to become a popular department store, expanded by Samuel’s sons Eddie and Manir in the 1960s. Now Yarid’s is a highly successful retailer of women’s shoes, handbags, makeup, and accessories, run by Eddie’s daughters, Katherine and Emilie. “Well, it wasn’t what any of us wanted to do—I will tell you that—growing up in

a retail family,” Katherine says of joining the family business. “For me, going back to the big store with Dad and Uncle Manir, that was really difficult because they had their customers established, and it was an older business. So someone younger coming in—it wasn’t as welcoming as you would have hoped it would have been at 25 years old,” she says. Luckily, things got better. Emilie soon took over the management of a Yarid’s in Charleston that sold shoes exclusively. Then another store opened at The Greenbrier, which Katherine took on as manager. Eventually their father and grandfather retired, and Katherine and Emilie felt it was time for a change. “We said it was an opportunity for us to be our own bosses and do our own thing—to have

our own concept of what Family-owned Yarid’s has been offering a fine we wanted Yarid’s to be,” shopping experience in Katherine says. The sisters Lewisburg since 1918. transitioned the business to shoe retail, building off the success of the stores in Charleston and at The Greenbrier. The big department store closed, and Yarid’s was absent from downtown Lewisburg for around six years before reopening in a new location on Washington Street, one with the distinct air of a quaint boutique. “Honestly, it was the best move we could have made, because it’s been a really good ride,” Katherine says. “I think the community has appreciated the uniqueness of the business.” The current Yarid’s in Lewisburg is a mecca for shoe shoppers. “We have about 5,000 pairs of shoes in stock,” Store Manager Nina Blankenship says. Stacks of boxes line the brightly colored walls, and it seems impossible for so many shoes to fit in the cozy quarters of the store. A large table is piled high with shoes on sale. “One thing our customers love is the selection,” Katherine says. The Lewisburg store also carries Brighton handbags and accessories. 25


Customers love the personal attention given by the staff, not to mention their fashionforward approach. Katherine and Emilie go to market four to six times a year to make purchases, bringing big-city fashion back to Yarid’s. Katherine says their New York trips are always the most productive—they pick up more information on trends and get a good vibe from the city. “It’s more of an educational experience as opposed to just a market,” she says. Those experiences result in bringing back a healthy dose of funky designer brands like Frye and UGG, mixed in with the store’s more classic styles. “There’s a lot—for every different style of person,” Nina says. Yarid’s has expanded beyond its West Virginia roots with stores in Roanoke, Virginia, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The sisters even have plans to open a sixth 26 wvl • winter 2014

Yarid’s within the next few years. With an ever-growing empire of shoes, you might expect Emilie and Katherine to have quite the shoe addiction, but Katherine says they look at the company like any other business. “We love shoes,” Katherine says, “but we’re not as passionate about them as our customers are.” Emilie has become the point person for vendors—“She’s the paper-pusher,” says Katherine—while Katherine moves between the Lewisburg, Greenbrier, and Roanoke stores, overseeing merchandising. Other family members keep close ties to the business, and Katherine and Emilie’s parents come into the Lewisburg store frequently— their father stops by every day, Nina says. As for the rest of the family, only time will tell. “We’re hoping one of our kids will jump on the bandwagon,” Katherine says. “I have a daughter who’s interested, but she

wants to do her own thing first, so we’ll see.” Another option the sisters have considered is selling the store to its employees. Nina, who has been with Yarid’s since the current Lewisburg store opened 11 years ago, says some employees have been with the company as long as 30 years. “It’s a family of its own,” she says. No matter what happens when the time comes to pass the torch, the history and values of the store as a family-owned business will remain. “I think the story of the business is the best story,” Nina says. “That’s the thing we brag about a lot with customers—where we came from.” yarid’s

202 West Washington Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901 304.647.5000, written and photographed by elizabeth



Vigilant Vets

One vet goes off-road to combat PTSD. like an estimated 460,000 other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, Taylor County native and military veteran Rick Proctor was diagnosed with PTSD after he returned from a 2004 deployment. “Once you start to have things taken from you, things you used to love that you can no longer enjoy, it’s depressing to say the least,” he says. Although anxiety often prevented him from enjoying crowded events like sports, things changed in 2012 when a friend introduced him to Grand National Cross Country (GNCC), a premier offroad racing series. “You ride and you don't see anyone for several miles. There’s no feeling of being watched, no pressure.” He was hooked—and inspired—immediately. “I wanted to use the sport and my story as a means of raising awareness.” In May 2013 Rick started Vigilant Vet Racing (VVR), a nonprofit dedicated to improving veterans’ lives. VVR organizes a team of racing veterans, educates the public, facilitates veterans’ ATV riding groups, and raises money to support projects like customizing an ATV for a wounded vet from Pennsylvania. “Helping other vets is therapeutic,” he says. “It’s nice to compete, but the benefit is getting out there—me, my friends and family, the machine, and the outdoors.” written by mikenna


did you know?

Heritage Towers Museum strolling through downtown Charleston, you might not notice the Heritage Towers Museum if you’re not looking for it—from the outside it looks like any other office building. But this modest storefront belies the wealth of history inside. For nearly a decade the museum has invited visitors to view exhibits that trace the story of West Virginia’s black heritage —from its beginnings in West Africa to the role black workers played in the state’s early coal mines to the Civil Rights movement. You’ll find traditional African art, a replica of a slave cabin, recreations from a slave ship called the Henrietta Marie that sank off the coast of Florida, coal mining equipment, and segregated restrooms, among other things that help you step back in time to better understand the story of African-Americans in the Mountain State. The team at Heritage Towers lives by its motto: “Treating every month like it’s black history month.” 612 Virginia Street East, Charleston, WV 25301, 304.343.3250, written by shay

maunz 27

spotlight Charleston’s Contemporary Galleries offers six stories and 4,500 square



A Fresh Take

Charleston’s Contemporary Galleries is dedicated to fine furniture in a modern style. 28 wvl • winter 2014

feet of modern furnishings for all of your home or office decorating needs.

rom the outside it looks like any other old warehouse: a six-story rectangular block covered in red brick, with simple windows and little adornment. But then you walk inside, and Contemporary Galleries is so much more. The building still has all the best characteristics of a warehouse—high ceilings, lots of space, exposed brick walls—but none of the ugly industrial elements. This building has been refinished, refurbished, and filled with handsome furniture and home goods, all in a contemporary style. Overall, the vibe is stylish, fresh, and distinctly urban. “It’s always fun when people come in and go, ‘Oh, wow, we moved here from a big city and we didn’t think we were going to find a place like this,’” says Mary Anne Crickard, the store manager. “When most people come in for the first time they can’t believe this exists in Charleston, and they’re really happy to have found us.” Contemporary Galleries has been in business in Charleston since 1976, when owners Mary and Leo Russel, a brother and sister team, bought a Contemporary Galleries franchise from the founders in Louisville, Kentucky— Mary had been living in Louisville and loved shopping in that store so much she wanted one of her own. The franchise has since dissolved, but the Contemporary Galleries in Charleston is still going strong. It moved into its current location in the town’s warehouse district in 1996. “Our old building was two levels and about 10,000 square feet total—this building has six stories and 4,500 square feet on each floor,” says Mary Anne, who has been with the company since 1979. “We needed the space.” The business has a commercial division that operates out of the top two floors of that building, and the remaining four floors are dedicated entirely to retail sales—they act mainly as showrooms. But these aren’t just any showrooms. They’re airy, modern, flooded with light, and filled with contemporary furniture that has been carefully arranged in pleasing vignettes. The third floor served as an apartment before Contemporary Galleries moved into the building, and the owners left it that way, so customers can see the furniture arranged in its natural habitat. That floor, in particular, is almost painfully attractive.


With its elegant hardwood floors, chic contemporary furniture, and incredible view of Appalachian Power Park, home to Charleston’s minor league baseball team, across the street, the apartment is so perfect you almost hate to return to your own home. “We have a long list of people who would love to rent it someday,” Mary Anne says. Contemporary Galleries specializes in home furnishings that are—you guessed it—contemporary. That means a lot of clean lines, simple shapes, and minimalist design, but Mary Anne cautions customers not to be intimidated by the classification. “We don’t do stark, stark contemporary,” she says. “We can—if you want something that’s all metal and glass and bold colors—certainly provide that, but in this area we don’t seem to have much call for it. People tend to like the warm tones of woods and the mix of fabrics and leathers, things that are cozy and comfortable, and we’re very good at that.” She also stresses that contemporary furniture can be paired with other pieces of almost any style.

Mary Anne herself lives in a log cabin but still has a lot of contemporary furniture in her home mixed with more rustic pieces. The commercial division at Contemporary Galleries includes a sizeable staff of interior designers to work with commercial clients and more than 30 installers to handle assembly. That manpower benefits retail clients, too—the company will deliver all over West Virginia and offers design and installation services free with every purchase. “We can come in and measure your room or help you figure out how to lay something out if you’re short on space,” Mary Anne says. “We don’t sell carpeting here, but if you’re buying carpet and need help choosing the pattern or color we’ll be glad to help you with that if you’re purchasing furniture for that room.” That’s true for large projects where you’re decorating a whole room or an entire house, but design services are also available if you just need help choosing one new piece to work with what you already have. “If somebody is working around a rug or an old

Chic modern bedroom set or something furniture and like that we can help them home goods jazz it up or make it look are arranged in vignettes. a little more like today,” Everything is Mary Anne says. for sale. The store isn’t all serious furniture purchases. The ground floor of Contemporary Galleries is partly dedicated to a gift shop of sorts and is filled with an eclectic mix of baubles, trinkets, and clothing. There’s everything from a colorful array of scarves and hats to candles made from recycled wine bottles to birdfeeders. “People can come in for anything,” Mary Anne says. “They can say, ‘I want artwork,’ or ‘I want knickknacks,’ or ‘I want area rugs,’ whatever—and we’ll have it for them.”

contemporary galleries

1210 Smith Street, Charleston, WV 25301, 304.344.1231 written by

shay maunz nikki bowman

photographed by 29



A Little Setback

Storm damage to the old Fayetteville High School is untimely, but not fatal. picture this. Your town identifies a historic structure that’s abandoned but in good shape, with lots of character and potential. Community groups get excited about space for arts activities and heritage tourism. Years of discussion finally place the building under town ownership. Then, before the decaying roof can be rehabbed, an unprecedented storm rips it off and inundates the building with water. “An old copper downspout got separated from the guttering system and directed all this water into a second-floor classroom,” says Fayetteville Town Supervisor Bill Lanham, describing the June 2012 derecho’s effect on the old Fayetteville High School. “It was just like a waterfall into this grand library room. It ruined shelving, books— we had to have a contractor take it all away.” It was a setback. But this little hub of tourism, recreation, and the arts near the New and Gauley rivers did not give up. The town worked to get the structure placed on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s Most Endangered Properties list for 2014. The three-story 1923 school building features the Italian stonework of Fayetteville builder and stonemason C.G. Janutolo, whose work is also seen at the Nicholas County Bank in Summersville. The building served as a high school until the 1970s, then a middle school until the county Board of Education closed it in 1999. In 2007 a West Virginia University Community Design Team project pointed out the building’s potential. “We started to think of it as a place for the creative arts, with pottery and glass and the painting of murals, and also the musical arts—a place where Appalachian children could get classical music training,” Bill says. “We saw a wing dedicated to a museum of the history of our community, how the area evolved from coal and timber, and also the age of the railroads.” Then, the storm. With the help of funds from the state Division of Culture and History and a Governor’s Community Participation Grant, 30 wvl • winter 2014

the town has removed the building’s contents and secured the roof. Some mold needs to be abated, and then interior restoration— including staircases, woodwork, and a big old laboratory sink that Bill says will be great for art activities—can begin. He’s in discussions with the Fayetteville Arts Coalition, the Coda Mountain Music Academy, school alumni, and other groups about their interest in contributing to the restoration of rooms that would then be available for their use. “We want to make it the teaching asset it once was,” he says. written by

pam kasey michael mills

photographed by



Pushing the Limit The Wheeling Nailers are a hard-hitting, fan-pleasing force to be reckoned with.


n the dead center of a ring of ice two hockey players in thick shoulder pads and helmets crouch forward, balancing on thin blades. The ref drops the puck, a snap echoes off the boards, and in a blur of motion, it’s gone— one player gaining control just fractions of a second faster than the other. Then the rink comes alive—a dozen players flying, passing, pushing, fighting for the upper hand. A scuffle breaks out, the gloves come off, and a ref rushes in to break it up. But the puck is still moving, still shooting across the ice. A minute more and someone’s made a goal—a flick of a stick and it’s in. The crowd surges to its feet, some roaring approval, others disapproval. Loyalties are fierce in this game. That’s what makes it so addictive. “I think it’s the toughest sport around,” says longtime hockey fan and Lansing, Ohio, resident Jim Hench. “Physically, it’s tough. You’re going all the time, constantly moving and getting hit. And you have the puck going 100 miles per hour at you.” Even with the fast pace, Jim says it’s still a great spectator sport. “It’s family-oriented. You can take young kids, older kids, parents. It’s just a blast,” he says. His favorite team: The Wheeling Nailers, a West Virginia organization since the early 1990s and the oldest ongoing minor league franchise under the American Hockey League (AHL). After nearly going dark just a few years ago, the team found new ownership with the Hockey Club of the Ohio Valley in 2012, a conglomerate of the Regional Economic Development Partnership and the Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association, and has since seen a surge in popularity. Opening night in 2014 attracted 4,700-plus fans. As for Jim, he hasn’t missed a Nailers home game in 10 years and lives just across the river from Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena where they play. As

32 wvl • winter 2014

president of the team’s booster club, you’ll find him at nearly every home game handing out raffle tickets and encouraging patrons to learn more about the sport. “When people first come to a game, they think you just throw the puck down and bring it back. There’s a lot more going on. If you learn a few basic rules and can follow along, it’s a lot more exciting.” The Nailers are a force to be reckoned with in the ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League). The team attracts some of the highest quality players—49 have gone on to the NHL—and the players put on a fun, high adrenaline game for fans each night. “We’re truly a developmental team. We have a lot of guys who come here wanting to get to that next level and we provide that opportunity for them no matter how long they’re with us,” says Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli. “First and foremost, it’s really good entertainment for the dollar. We’re a hard-hitting team, we score, and we have NHL contracted goalies. I think we cover all the bases—we entertain, we win a lot of games, and we play good defense.”

The Wheeling But the team hasn’t thrived Nailers play this long on the strength October through of its game alone. It’s also April. become a fixture in Wheeling, participating in charity events, fundraisers, and youth hockey programs. Players also regularly make special appearances at schools and hospitals. Not to mention the economic impact the team has on local businesses. That’s one reason its loyal fan base continues to grow. “We really want to make sure the fans feel like they’re involved and can make that one-on-one connection,” says DJ Abisalih, radio broadcaster and director of media and community relations with the Nailers. “You don’t just want people to come to the games and know players by their numbers. You want them to know that these players have become part of the community.” written by

mikenna pierotti zack rawson

photographed by

Located in Monroe County, West Virginia, we are a privately owned and operated High Fenced Hunting Preserve. We offer Big Game hunts for trophy whitetail deer, fallow deer, red stag, wild boar, buffalo and exotics.

PO Box 60 Greenville, WV 24945 | 304.832.6635

spotlight Actor Paul Dooley grew up in Vienna. In high school he began cartooning and worked for the local newspaper.

west virginian who rocks

From Mountains to Movies One Wood County boy-turned-actor discovers a dream he never knew he was destined to live. a boy with a creative streak but not a lot of ambition, Paul Brown never envisioned a long career on the silver screen when he was growing up in West Virginia’s Mid-Ohio Valley in the 1930s. Today that same boy, known now as Paul Dooley, is one of Hollywood’s most respected character actors and comedians. Paul’s role in the 1979 Oscar-winning coming-of-age drama Breaking Away was his biggest and perhaps most memorable role, but he’s been in more than 100 television shows and movies as well as racked up many writing credits over the years. Movie lovers may recognize him as the comical and lovable father from films like Sixteen Candles and Runaway Bride. But in 1938 Paul was just a 10-year-old boy looking for something to do in quiet Vienna, about a mile-and-a-half from the 34 wvl • winter 2014

Ohio River. Back then the miles between Vienna and Parkersburg were mostly meadows—no stores. Universal Glass was a major employer. In the years coming out of the Great Depression, his family, like many, focused on making a living more than having fun. Still, among the foothills that made up his backyard, Paul and his friends played cowboys and Indians in summer and went sledding in winter. “We’d go up in the hills where you could really disappear behind rocks and gullies,” he says. “There was a field next to my house where

Eventually he chose to attend West Virginia University, where his interest transitioned to acting.

we’d play softball and football.” Nearby, an old tree about eight stories high leaned over the river. Paul’s brother tied a rope swing to it so the kids could drop 30 feet into the water below. Paul and his friends called themselves the River Rats, though by the time he turned 16 the group’s interests moved on to more amorous pursuits. A friend got a car, and the group drove around downtown Parkersburg to pick up ladies. Mostly they were unsuccessful. He likens his youth to American Graffiti—spectacularly lackadaisical in the way only teenagers can be. “I never thought I’d be a comedian,” he says. “I was always drawn to comedy, and my first interest was hearing the radio comedians like Red Skelton. I’d listen to them and memorize their jokes, but I didn’t know what I’d do. I thought I’d go to the glass factory.” In high school Paul started cartooning. As a kid he would draw superheroes, airplanes, cars, and tanks, but one day he spied a classmate working on a different kind of cartoon. “I was amazed,” he says. “It looked like such a professional cartoon, like you’d see in the newspaper.” He started cartooning for the paper himself and became fast friends with the young man. That friend eventually convinced him to go to West Virginia University, where his interest transitioned from cartooning to acting. “I think more than cartooning and acting, it was when he told me about the girls—that got me up to WVU,” Paul laughs. “I didn’t have a lot of ambition. I dreamed about cartooning and acting but never thought I could do it. I was stuck in a small town. Not like now—with the Internet you have access to the world. But when you lived in a small town, you thought you could never do anything.” At WVU Paul met Don Knotts—the Morgantown native famous for playing Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show—and the two often drove to Pittsburgh to find nightclubs or burlesque shows with comedians. “None of

our friends would believe we weren’t there for strippers. We were there for the comedians,” Paul says. “On the way home we’d reconstruct the comedians’ shows and on the weekends we’d entertain groups with those routines together.” In the late 1940s and early ’50s, Morgantown didn’t have much in the way of a stage area for comedians and boasted few nightclubs. Instead the duo entertained fraternities and men’s clubs. “We’d make $5 or $10 a night,” he says. “I was learning by doing and by failing.” It was during that time that something in Paul changed. He realized he didn’t want to move back to Vienna and take up a trade at the glass factory like many of his old River Rat friends. After graduating in 1952, he packed his bags. “I went to New York not really knowing what to do and not having much confidence in my ability,” he says. “Breaking in is all up to the individual and your luck. It took me nine years.” Paul checked into the YMCA for $5 a night. He took a part-time job and started knocking on doors. Don, also living in New York at the time, found Paul his first gig as a comic cowboy on a local TV station, but mostly Paul was going it alone. “I was so unsophisticated that after nine months at that children’s show I didn’t even think about getting an agent.” Don, though supportive, was married and lived in New Jersey, Paul says. In 1961 Paul began working on commercials, part of a group helping to revolutionize advertising at the time with a bit of sketch comedy. After that Paul says he was never broke again. After Breaking Away his career took off—from roles in Popeye (1980) to Sixteen Candles (1984) to Runaway Bride (1999). He’s been on ER, CSI, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Parenthood, among dozens of other TV shows. “I’ve been extremely lucky,” he says. “Many very talented people just haven’t had the opportunities or breaks.” Today the Emmy-nominated actor lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Winnie Holzman, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter herself, perhaps best known for the ’90s coming-of-age drama My So-Called Life. Paul says he’s mostly retired from movies and TV these days, and he’s working on a one-man stage show based on his career. He’s also written three screenplays— one of which is a memoir based on his life in West Virginia’s foothills. written by katie

griffith photos courtesy of paul dooley 35



Hidden Hall of Treasures The West Virginia University basketball practice facility features a public museum dedicated to the history of Mountaineer hoops.

situated behind the West Virginia University Coliseum, unbeknownst to most of Morgantown’s population, sits the new Mountaineer basketball practice facility. A gorgeous building highlighting natural light and a stacked stone facade, the space is made for and dedicated exclusively to all things basketball. While it provides a bit of much-needed breathing room for the many sports and university classes packing the iconic WVU Coliseum, it delivers a bit of fun for WVU basketball fans, too. The $24 million, 64,000-square-foot facility opened in 2012 boasting dedicated space for both Mountaineer teams. The men’s and women’s spaces are mirror images of each other, with state-of-the-art equipment, offices, and gyms spread across a two-level floor plan. Head coaches’ suites boast threeway fireplaces, outdoor terraces, and balconies overlooking the practice courts. The facility’s middle spine contains the shared spaces, a weight and training room downstairs and a lobby and dining room at entry level. Perhaps most significant, however, is the entry-level Robinson/Petroplus Hall of Traditions, a WVU basketball museum and trivia haven for the Mountaineers’ biggest fans. “This space is one of my favorites because it tells the history of both of our programs, top to bottom,” says April Messerly, WVU’s assistant athletic director for facilities and operations. Like the rest of the building, the museum focuses on Mountaineer women’s basketball to the left and men’s basketball on the right—each section full of memorabilia, stats, touchscreen displays of basketball highlights, and stories of victory. “From the beginning of this space

See gamewinning balls, rare photos, old uniforms, and more at this museum.

36 wvl • winter 2014


we worked with the coaches and the staff to decide the content,” April says. Visitors will find old jerseys, tickets, photographs, and donated historic paraphernalia. “The men really wanted to highlight their 2010 season—the Final Four in the Big East,” April says. “We had a lot of cool artifacts because this space was being built at the time, and we said, ‘We’ve got to keep that net, it’ll go in the Hall of Traditions. Someone needs to keep their tickets.’” The men’s side also features a retired numbers case—only two men’s numbers have ever been retired—as well as a uniform case starting with the short shorts of the ’40s through the bowling-esque warmups of the ’70s and all the way up to the ’90s. The women’s side showcases one of WVU’s most famous players, Georgeann Wells. She was the first female player to dunk in a game in collegiate basketball history and her story

alone is reason enough to visit the museum. The shot was taken during a holiday game against the University of Charleston attended by just around 100 people, but that day made national headlines. Dedicated coaches’ cases contain mementos from Coach Bob Huggins and Coach Mike Carey, including letter jackets, books, trophies, and stats, as well items like a clipboard broken in the heat of an emotional game. The museum also houses an old scoreboard and a hoop from Stansbury Hall when it was called the Mountaineer Field House. The scoreboard is lit up to show the score of the first game played there, a 26-23 WVU win over Salem College (now Salem International University) on January 3, 1929. Several of Jerry West’s artifacts can be found in the hall, but most continue to be housed in the Jerry West Mountaineer Room of the Coliseum. A small theater offers

The WVU seating for visitors looking to basketball practice enjoy some of the museum’s facility sits behind longer videos, and while the the Coliseum and is a treasure trove museum itself is an unknown of history. gem in the middle of Morgantown, April says the theater is one of its most popular areas. The museum is the only area in the facility accessible to the public, April says, and is open every weekday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and before home football and basketball games. “If you’re on campus and you want to come peek around, it’s open,” April says. “People come in here and just sit for hours.” WVU Basketball Practice Facility 3450 Monongahela Boulevard written by katie


photographed by elizabeth

roth 37










stockings stUFFeD

Bring joy to your loved ones’ eyes—and taste buds—with West Virginia food and wine. 1. Spiced tea, Old Stone House Gift Shop, 304.296.7825, Morgantown, $7.95 2. Italian-style peppers, Oliverio’s, Clarksburg, 304.622.4959,, $4.99 3. American merlot, Chestnut Ridge Winery, Spencer, 304.927.4831, $16 4. Ginger SweetShine, Bloomery Plantation Distillery, 304.725.3036,, $24.99 5. Spaghetti sauce, Figaretti’s, Wheeling, 304.243.5625, $4.99 6. Beef jerky, West Virginia Beef Jerky,, $4 7. Peach salsa, Blue Smoke Salsa,, $6.95 8. West Virginia pure maple syrup, Yoder’s Country Kettle, Stonewood Bulk Foods, 304.623.3663, $16.89 9. Honey bear, Mountain State Honey Company, Good Energy Foods, Elkins, 304.636.5169, $2.09 and up 10. Chocolates, Holl’s Chocolates, Vienna,, $17 11. & 12. Gravy and biscuit mixes, Tasty Blend Foods, Teays Valley, 304.757.6686, $2.39 and up 38 wvl • winter 2014



12 11 39

Since 1907

Visit an old-fashioned working hardware store, where the wood floors creak, the smiles are big, and you can still buy goods of quality and value. Stop by today!

Mon-Fri: 8:00–5:00 Sat: 8:00–4:00 Sun: Closed

Georgia Boots ★ Gravely Sales & Service Carhart Clothing ★WV Foods AND SO MUCH MORE 1300 Webster Road Summersville, WV 26651 304.872.2821 ☛

CArlA WITT ford

Sparkle & Shine Celebrate the ďŹ ner things in life. PICTURED: HOME IN PHILIPPI, PAGE 62

Old Meets New Retreat to the Isaac Jackson Hotel in Elkins. written by shay

maunz photographed by elizabeth roth 43

her itage | Lodging

it’s hard to know what to expect of the Isaac Jackson Hotel before you step inside. It’s in the middle of Elkins, a town with history and close to nature—maybe the hotel will be rustic and cozy, just like the community? But then again, it’s a new addition to the town—construction on the rooms wrapped up in fall 2014—so perhaps it will be chic, sleek, and modern. Then you walk through the Isaac Jackson’s wide front doors and into its airy lobby, and somehow the hotel is all of those things at once: cozy and warm, but also sleek and modern, with clean lines and organic shapes that remind you of the outdoors. The hotel isn’t rustic, but it does feel at home in its small-town environs. “The designer took a modern approach to nature,” says Meggan Sexton, the hotel’s marketing and operations manager. “There are things like artwork to represent trees, but it’s not too literal. It’s a modern, abstract take.” The end tables in the lobby, for example, are distinctly modern in shape—they’re not much more than cubeshaped boxes—but still feel homey and familiar because we can see the grain in the warm wood. The lobby has a large fireplace framed with rough stone, but the room is wallpapered in a 44 wvl • winter 2014

decidedly modern print, with sleek gold twigs set against a plum-colored backdrop. The Isaac Jackson is owned and operated by Meggan’s family, the Sextons, who also own American Mountain Theater (AMT), one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. AMT specializes in Branson-style musical theater shows, with singing, dancing, and skits—all in a state-of-the-art theater in Elkins’ historic rail yard. AMT does more than 200 shows for 30,000 people a year. Often tourists pack into charter buses to make the trip to Elkins, looking for some lighthearted entertainment, a good meal, and a night or two away from home. But a few years ago Meggan and her dad Kenny, who heads up the business, started to notice a problem: There were plenty of tourists who wanted to visit Elkins and the theater, but there wasn’t always enough room for them to stay. “We very quickly became aware that there was a hotel shortage in Elkins,” Meggan says. “There were hotels, but a lot of times they were completely full, especially in the fall.” That was frustrating to the Sextons, because American Mountain Theater relies almost entirely on overnight tourists. “We can’t

put people in the seats if there’s nowhere for them to stay,” Meggan says. “So we got in the hotel business.” They got into talks with the owner of a small hotel that had been in business for years—the Ekins Motor Lodge. The owner was ready to retire and looking for someone to buy the property—Meggan and her dad were immediately interested. “It’s a prime piece of property, right near everything in town,” Meggan says. Plus, the deal included the 1863 Grill, a great local restaurant that sits adjacent to the hotel—Meggan and the team at American Mountain Theater had been recommending the restaurant to tourists for years. The only problem was the hotel needed some work. “The restaurant was fine, but the rooms weren’t, in our opinion, fit to stay in,” Meggan says. They decided to make major renovations to the main building, tear down the small cottage-like structures that had been used as guest rooms, and build a new addition to the hotel. “We gutted the whole thing,” she says. After $5 million in renovations, the result is a hotel with 61 rooms, banquet space, and a modern floor plan. The restaurant underwent a less drastic remodel, too.

Lodging | her itage

Conte Design, a Pennsylvania design company, handled the hotel’s interior design. “That’s really one of the neatest things about the hotel,” Meggan says. The company’s owner, George Conte, lives in Pennsylvania now but grew up in Elkins. A few years ago he was in town for a family reunion and booked tickets to an American Mountain Theater show. “His email came up with, so out of pure curiosity we Googled him and saw that he does hotel interior design, and he does it for the big dogs,” Meggan says. “We filed that in the back of our minds, and then when we came to this project we called him.” George and his wife have designed hotels for national chains like Marriott and Hampton and are also responsible for the redesign of the Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center and the Oglebay Resort & Conference Center. But the Isaac Jackson project was especially dear to George. “I very much wanted to do this because it was my hometown,” he says. “I still have ties there, I still have friends there, and I thought we could do a good job.” George’s history with the area served him well on the project because he could draw on his knowledge of the town when working on the

design. He could still remember, for example, all those little cottages that were torn down to make way for the new hotel, and he kept them in mind while working on the interior design for the modern structure that replaced them. “The style they were built in was from the ’50s and ’60s,” he says. “I wanted to maintain some of the same ambience while at the same time updating the image.” His experience in the hotel industry came in handy, too—where Meggan and Kenny were new to the business and worried about pulling the project off, George encouraged them to think big. “They initially asked me if they could be as nice as the Holiday Inn Express,” George says. “And I said, ‘No, you can be nicer. You need to be the best out there.’” In the end, the team at the Isaac Jackson tried to strike a balance between luxury and comfort. “We wanted to be a step above your average hotel but still be very cozy, very welcoming. And I think that’s exactly where we landed,” Meggan says. “Because we’re not a big chain we were able to go outside of the box a little and provide an almost over-the-top experience for an average traveler.” 830 Harrison Avenue, Elkins, WV 26241 304.636.1400,

What’s in a Name? The Isaac Jackson Hotel isn’t the namesake of a real person—it’s the result of some wordplay combining the middle names of the fathers of each of Meggan’s parents. It’s also what the couple would name a son if they had one. “When we were kicking around ideas for what to call the place, we were looking for something that would project the right image, would tie into the existing name of the 1863 Grill restaurant that is onsite, and would be unique,” Meggan says. “We kicked around a lot of ideas, knew we wanted an article in front of the name, and one day I just threw it out there: The Isaac Jackson Hotel. Everyone agreed it made a nice name for a nice hotel, and thus The Isaac Jackson Hotel was born.” 45

Stirring the Soul

This craftsman ďŹ nds magic in the art of spoon carving. written by mikenna

pierotti photographed by nikki bowman

the heartwood grows last. The strongest part of a tree—it forms slowly under an often thin layer of sapwood, like an organ beneath skin. Woodworkers prize it for its durability and rich color. But it doesn’t beat. Doesn’t keep the tree alive. In fact, some trees can go on living long after their heartwood has rotted away. And some never grow it at all. For Norm Sartorius, an award-winning wood artist, discovering his true talent—his way of seeing into and through a piece of timber to the magic beneath—was a bit like the process of uncovering the heartwood. It was probably always there under the surface. It just took a sharp tool, a little fine sandpaper, and years of patience to reveal it. “I would need a psychologist to tell me,” he says when asked what led him to woodworking. “I grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland. My dad was a country doctor and his dad was a country doctor. The emphasis in my family was on education and becoming a professional. There was no emphasis in our household on the arts. No one said anything bad about it, but it never came up as a viable vocation.” In his late sixties, Norm grows a thick salt and pepper beard, tends toward casual clothes, and lives in a cozy two-story redbrick home in Parkersburg. He isn’t retired. His work begins every day with a walk through his yard along a narrow path lined with shade trees, ending on a back lot in front of a building that looks more like a garage than an art studio. He seems to like that quiet anonymity, a contrast to the buzz and blur of the major craft shows. “I have very inconsistent work patterns. I have peaks of energy where I feel very creative, and then I have the opposite, where I sit out here and look at each piece of wood—moving from piece to piece, holding them, trying to understand. To someone else that might appear unproductive, but for me it’s just as important as when I’m using my tools or actively piling up the sawdust and wood shavings.” Norm has been a wood artist for more than 30 years. His work has appeared at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, to name a few. He’s best known for taking rare woods—some thousands of years old—from around the world and carving them into the arguably universal spoon form. Not spoons to stir the pie filling, he’s careful to point out, but spoon sculptures wrought of wood, polished to silk, meant to stir the soul. Norm’s sculptural spoons are at once comfortable and alien—the apparition of warmth and home run through with the dizzying unfamiliarity of a foreign landscape. 50 wvl • winter 2014

Among his work you’ll find his Conquistador, made of Honduran rosewood burl, its grain writhing and boiling like the surface of the sun; a twisted Algerita root spoon, rippling in pale gold and gray green; and the gleaming red Synthesis, carved in Brazilian bloodwood, more evocative of a dragon’s arching neck than a kitchen utensil. “I’ve always started with the wood itself. The wood is usually the inspiration for the first cuts. And the shaping of the piece has to do with the texture, grain, and figure of it—its special character,” he says. “I’m kind of a wood collector, really.” Born in Salisbury, Maryland, Norm spent his childhood in nature. “My dad was an avid fisherman and he took me out with him frequently. I paid attention to those simple things that a lot of people might not think about— weather patterns, storm clouds, sunsets, birds on the seashore.” Despite the draw of nature, he studied psychology and spent five years working as a psychiatric social worker in a state mental hospital just outside Baltimore after graduating

from college. But it wasn’t his calling. “In an overall sense it seemed unsatisfying. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to do, but it was clear after a while that I didn’t want to do that.” In the mid-1970s, Norm hit the road. “I traveled. I wasn’t married. I didn’t have children. I wasn’t firmly planted at that time. So I went searching for something.” He found his way to an apprenticeship with woodworker Phil Jurus in Baltimore. “It was an experiment. I was seeing if it would take,” he says. “It did.” Through that apprenticeship, a later work-study stint in Kentucky with sculptural furniture maker Bobby Falwell, and woodworking classes, he learned the craft’s foundations—how to cut and shape and smooth, how to bring out grain and color, and how to uncover what lies beneath. “It felt like a more satisfying thing—rather than being abstract, mentally, it was very tangible. I would finish the week with items I’d actually completed.” Norm started with beautiful but functional items—from switch plates to canes. “But spoons, right away, felt different.” If you ask Norm what it was about the shape and form of the humble

TOP LEFT: Jim Osborn photography

her itage | Art

Art | her itage The spoon inspires Norm Sartorius to make beautiful art that has

spoon that ignited his imagination, he’ll pause. “I can’t really explain it. At the time, I probably would have just said I enjoyed spoons the most. I never got tired of them. I probably wouldn’t have had an intellectual answer for you.” Still, Norm pushed his attraction to the spoon form to the back of his mind for years, learning first to perfect his craft before fully realizing it—and marketing it—as art. Sometime around 1975 West Virginia also took root in Norm’s soul. “It was the tail-end of the hippie thing,” he says. “My friends had moved to McDowell County. I would visit them and we would go for long walks in the mountains. It was poor, but it was beautiful.” So he bought a cabin on 25 acres and lived there alone, on a ridgetop the locals called Bearwallow or Pea Patch, making mostly functional items and spoons—always spoons. Living primitively in the mountains, the land became a part of him. “West Virginia was my exit from that previous way of living. I had left one type of life and started a new one as a craftsperson.” He lived there five years and brought his work

been displayed at the Smithsonian Art Museum, among others.

to local craft fairs. Then, in 1981, he met his wife, Diane, a Parkersburg native and stained glass artist, at Mountain State Art & Craft Fair in Ripley. “Meeting her was the beginning of phase two in West Virginia, which was really settling in, getting married, raising a family, and approaching my work as a career rather than a subsistence lifestyle on a mountaintop.” With the support of his new family, he began networking with national-level woodworkers, earned grants from West Virginia’s Division of Culture and History, spent time researching and photographing spoons in the Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center, and watched the contemporary woodworking landscape change. “It was more of an evolution than a revolution. For years I made largely functional spoons. That was OK in my mind, but I was a little conflicted. I was putting a lot of time into each piece, using the best woods, making each unique and special, and people were coming into my booth and asking if they could stir their blueberry pie filling with them,” he laughs. “I knew the answer had to be yes, but I was already seeing the piece as

something more—as a decorative art object. It took a while for me to resolve that.” Although many of his customers were already collecting his work and treating it as decorative art, it took an outside force in the late 1980s to validate what he knew in his heart to be true. “I noticed what was happening in the contemporary wood field. I would see carvers my age taking something like a salad bowl and carving holes in it, making it non-functional as a bowl but fully functional as a gallery or museum piece. It still had a use. It had a function. Just not as a kitchen utensil. It functioned as a decorative art, and the function of art is to provide inspiration and satisfaction, to be visual or experiential,” he says. “I saw it happening and thought, ‘Maybe I’m not so crazy.’” So he started listening to that little whispering voice in the back of his mind. He put his pieces on museum-style pedestals, commissioned high quality photography, and took his work to the national stage. It wasn’t long before his spoons were showing up at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., the American Craft Council Baltimore Show, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. His work has won numerous awards and appeared in major shows, galleries, and exhibitions from coast to coast. Some of his spoons are valued at $5,000 or more. Though he also makes wood sculptures, letter openers, and bracelets (as well as small wooden hearts just for his wife each Valentine’s Day), he relishes the challenge of taking on custom pieces—often carved from his customers’ family heirlooms and other bits of wood imbued with memory. “I’ve got people bringing wood into my booth in shopping bags—something from their wood pile, their old uncle’s apple tree, or a piece from a relative. They want something that reconnects them with that memory. Wood almost always conveys meaning and history. Almost everyone has a piece of wood in their lives that means something.” If you visit Norm today in his backyard studio, you might be surprised by how ordinary it all seems with the die grinders, bandsaws, and sandpaper. Most of us could never truly see what Norm sees in the hunk of old bog wood, black as ebony with age, or bit of mulberry from Mount Vernon that could have once shaded George Washington. But therein lies the art. “There’s something that happens. It happens all the time in children because to them the world is all brand new. Children see the magic in everything, and I’m trying not to lose that,” he says. “I’m trying to share that. I’m trying to share what I see in wood, to translate it from my carving to my customers. I think people are looking for that magic.” 51

morgantown » shopping

dining • and so much more !

Off the Beaten Path West Virginia’s tiniest towns are vibrantly alive—full of unique festivals, passionate people, and more to see and do than meets the eye. written by mikenna

pierotti • photographed by nikki bowman


her itage | Travel

athered like grains of sand along West Virginia’s narrow twisting roads and deep valley folds, tiny communities aren’t always victims of circumstance­—many times they’re the balm to an overtaxing modern lifestyle. Imagine a village of Swiss descendents who still celebrate Fasnacht with a ritual burning of “Old Man Winter” or a railroad town where you can hitch a ride on a coal-black 1900s steam engine and slip back in time. “Small towns are a great environment for families,” says Cindy Dragan, assistant director of the New River Gorge Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But you have to take the initiative, take advantage of the natural beauty and history of the area, and make the most of your time together.” Cindy and her husband, Tom, make their home in Thurmond, a New River Gorge town once booming with rail travel, now boasting less than a dozen full-time residents but a revolving door of railroad tourists, white water rafters, and outdoors enthusiasts. A native of suburban Boulder, Colorado, Cindy met Tom, who hails from Pennsylvania, on a trip up the New River, and the two settled here, beside the rushing river. “I’ll admit, when I first drove into Thurmond on that two-lane road it was beautiful, but I had to wonder if it was the end of the world,” she says. More than 40 years later, the Dragans have raised two sons there—both of whom live in urban areas but return regularly to recharge. “I consider myself blessed to be able to sit on my porch, listen to the river, and see the bald eagles fly over,” Cindy says. “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to live.” In contrast, Mary Snyder has lived in a tiny community her entire life—in Cass, an old mill and railroad town that’s once again attracting thousands to its scenic railroad excursions. “I was born here. My grandfather used to work at the mill for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. My father also worked there before World War II. He started the Cass Historical Museum,” she says. Mary has worked for Cass Scenic Railroad State Park for nearly 40 years now, but that’s not why she stays. “It’s safe, it’s comfortable—people here are friendly. You get to know them quickly. Everyone helps each other. When there’s a flood or a fire we all have bake sales and cakewalks to help raise money. You’ll see the whole town show up for someone’s 80th birthday. In a small town, that’s just what you do.” Spend time in a tiny town, talk to the residents, and one thing will become abundantly clear. What these people have traded in amenities—which Tom insists

54 wvl • winter 2014

isn’t much with the advent of satellite TV— they’ve gained in quiet, star-filled nights, neighbors who feel like family, and an enviably slower pace of life. “I don’t know if I ever would have looked on a map for a place like this, but now I feel so fortunate to live here,” he says. “People think we’re isolated, but we have everything we need, and what we don’t have is just a few miles away. I think small towns like these are some of the most unique, most important places in the country.” Travel out a country road anywhere in the state and you’re bound to run into a tiny hidden gem community to explore. Here are just a few of West Virginia’s must-see tiny towns.


Once upon a time Helvetia was a littleknown gem. Now it’s one of West Virginia’s most talked about tiny towns. Why? Most would say because of its fun, laid-back, quirky culture—one part Swiss, one part pure mountain spirit. Settled by Swiss immigrants in the late 1860s, today the descendents of those settlers pay homage to their roots with square dancing, yodeling, and fun festivals like Fasnacht, a February celebration that takes place the Saturday before Ash Wednesday each year. People from all over the world have trekked to this Randolph County community for Fasnacht-style Swiss food, drink, costumes, and a masked ball—all culminating in a bonfire where residents burn an effigy of “Old Man Winter” and welcome another spring.

Visitors to Helvetia are drawn not just to the culture but the aesthetics of the town, with its historic square—a ring of well-kept log structures—as its centerpiece. If you’re looking for general goods and maybe a keepsake or two, the Kultur Haus Helvetia is open seven days a week and also houses the post office, mask museum, and Alpen Lodge, where visitors may stay in one of three rooms—free wireless Internet and research materials included—for a donation. For something a little more formal, the Beekeeper Inn (circa 1870) has rooms with private baths, antiques, and books. For a hearty meal, the Hutte Restaurant has a full menu of Swiss and American dishes and serves up a memorable Sunday brunch.


This community’s history is written in railroad lines. Believe it or not, in the 1900s Thurmond was sometimes called the “Wild West of the East” for its reputation as a bustling saloon town, with the train depot serving as many as 95,000 passengers a year. There, East Coast travelers could gamble, play pool or poker, and stay in one of the local hotels. Gambling was serious business in Thurmond. In fact, according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, this little town hosted a 14-year-long poker game. These days, things are a little quieter. Thurmond is West Virginia’s smallest incorporated town, but hundreds of people still

59 Helvetia*

Travel | her itage


52 Cass


filter through on their way to tackle the New River, hike or bike the Rend Trail, watch the trains, or simply soak in the ambience. The historic train depot, still used as a working stop on Amtrak’s Cardinal Line from Chicago to New York, is now also a National Park Service visitor center and the Thurmond Museum. Take a hike up the hill and you can still find homes where residents happily go on with their daily lives as well as a few houses the National Park Service has restored and preserved. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the old Thurmond Union Church— once used as a set for the movie Matewan— and take a walk across the single-track railroad bridge for beautiful views of the New River.

and exists as part of the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. The company store, museum, and train depot seem to pop out of a 1940s noir film, and many of the restored company houses can be rented for overnight or extended stays. Visitors start at the Cass Showcase, where an orientation video and diorama chart Cass’ history. Later they can grab a bite at the Last Run Restaurant or catch a ride on an old Shay locomotive up the original 1901 rail line for sweeping mountain views at 4,000 feet. Cass is also a convenient gateway to natural wonders such as the oldest state forest in West Virginia—Seneca State Forest—and the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail, where visitors can bike, hike, ride horseback, or crosscountry ski.

sugaring business and bring in needed funds to keep the town’s grass mowed and the historic buildings in good repair. Thus the West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival was born—its first pancake dinner attracting nearly 500 people. Drop by Pickens from March 21 to 22, 2015, and come hungry. In addition to light and fluffy pancakes dripping in syrup, you’ll find an arts and crafts show, live music, a pottery sale, chainsaw art demonstrations, children’s games, and the Haven in the Hardwoods 5K race. If you’re an ATV enthusiast, Pickens in April is the place to be for the Annual Poker Run, a 40-mile adrenaline—and mud—soaked trail through the backwoods.




Strictly speaking, like many tiny communities, Cass isn’t a town. It’s a censusdesignated place, but back in the heyday of logging and railroad in 20th century Appalachia, it was a booming West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company town marked out in neat rows of cookie-cutter houses and the lonely whistle of a Shay steam engine cutting through the hills. Then in 1960 the mill closed, and though it seemed Cass’ time was up, a group of local businessmen and state officials saw the value in preserving this piece of railroad Americana and together worked to add it to the state park system in 1961. Although people do live in Cass yearround, much of the town is now preserved *Numbers represent population according to U.S. 2010 Census.

Deep in the hardwoods of Randolph County, Pickens was once a bustling logging and railroad town. Established in the 1890s it was a hub of activity—churches, hotels, saloons, a sawmill, and railroad drove its economy well into the 20th century. But even as the lumber and coal industries declined, the people of Pickens rallied to keep their town alive. In 1971 members of Pickens Historical and Improvement Society came together to revitalize the community, writing a historical account, fixing up the train depot, and building new playground equipment for local children. Then, in the 1980s, local entrepreneur Mike Richter proposed adding a maple syrup festival to both promote his

Pickens 55

The Dog House Nitro’s House of Hounds takes pet sitting to the next level. written by shay


photographed by the

oberports 57

her itage | Living Local

let’s do a thought experiment: Imagine you’re a dog. Your family loves you, takes you on long walks almost every day, feeds you treats often—if not as often as you’d like—and lets you roam around the house untethered most of the time. Sometimes when they’re not around you jump onto the couch for a quick nap, or spend some quality time chewing on somebody’s shoe, but otherwise you pretty much behave yourself, just like any other member of the family would. Now imagine it’s the holiday season, and your family is packing up for a vacation. “Oh no,” you think. “What does this mean? Are they going to let me stay home alone? Surely not—they think I will eat all the food they leave on the first day, and 58 wvl • winter 2014

they’re right. I bet I’m going to spend the holidays in some kennel somewhere, stuck in a cage.” Enter House of Hounds, a cage-free pet day care and boarding house in Nitro, 15 miles outside of Charleston. House of Hounds does pet grooming, day care, and overnight boarding, but it’s of a different breed than most dog kennels—and the animals love it. “Most dogs, when they come up to the door they’re pulling their owners into the building,” says Kendra Burton, the manager. At House of Hounds the dogs aren’t put in cages—ever. Instead they’re given the run of a house and left to their own devices. They can play with one another as they please, take a stroll through the yard to get some air,

take a dip in one of the outdoor pools in warm months, or stay inside to relax on a leather couch and watch a movie. “We really want them to feel like it’s home,” says Brannon Carrier, the owner of House of Hounds. On Thanksgiving, all the dogs get a vet-approved Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a little piece of pumpkin pie. On Christmas morning they all get presents. “It’s over the top, but we like it that way,” Kendra says. Brannon and Kendra are siblings, and their parents owned this house for years—it’s the house their father grew up in. “It was a house of hounds even before it was the House of Hounds, because my whole family is dog crazy,” Brannon says. “So it seems appropriate.” House of Hounds got its start in 2006, but at first it was just a dog-grooming business in the small apartment building adjacent to the house. Brannon had been working as a dog groomer for years, fantasizing about starting his own business where he could do things his own way. “I’d worked at other grooming shops where they’d snap at the dogs, say things like, ‘No, quit it,’” he says. “It’s not that people were really mean, but I don’t want to hear that in there. It’s their spa time.” When Brannon finally opened his own grooming shop in 2006, he and his employees groomed the dogs differently, without cages or harsh language. And his customers—both the humans and the canines—loved it. “My clients started begging me to board their dogs,” he says, so he started doing day care in the grooming shop. “We would groom with the day care dogs at our feet at first, but it just grew and grew and grew until we had to expand.” Before long he bought the house next door from his parents and it officially became the House of Hounds. For several years Brannon lived in the house himself with the boarder dogs—not that it was so different from his situation now, he says, since he has seven dogs at home. “I loved living there,” he says. “When you’re in a room with 20 dogs and everybody is taking a nap at once, it’s peaceful.” They didn’t make a lot of changes to the house to make it feel industrial or sterile like a typical dog kennel—that was exactly what Brannon didn’t want. “We want it to be like what the dogs are used to,” Brannon says. “We have TVs in each room and then below the TV there’s a mantel with pictures on it. There’s a kitchen, and a refrigerator and a bed. The dogs related to that—they know it’s not like a warehouse. They know it’s a home.” The dogs are separated into two spaces—one for larger

House of Hounds is pet care that goes above

and beyond. Pets enjoy the comforts of home—and

then some— which means their owners are worry-free. 59

her itage | Living Local clockwise

The house and grounds are filled with quirky dogrelated trimmings. Grooming is cage

free. House of Hounds offers highend dog grooming products, just like a spa would for humans.

dogs and another for smaller ones—and each group has a trained employee with them at all times called a pack leader. Those pack leaders monitor the dogs, feed them, and play with them. At night, they spend the night with the dogs, sleeping in a big king bed in the room with them. “At home a lot of people sleep with their dogs,” Brannon says. “This is just like that.” Cathy Burdette brings her dog Sparky, a 6-year-old mutt who is “spoiled rotten,” to House of Hounds in large part because of that over-thetop dog friendliness. “The people like animals here,” she says. “They’re just like your kids, so you really want that for them.” Indeed, the crew at House of Hounds goes above and beyond to make the environment welcoming to the dogs: They don’t just have couches for them to lounge on, they have leather couches. “We do go through at least 10 or 12 couches a year,” Brannon says. “They get torn up eventually—you get puppies in there and they chew.” They don’t just let the dogs roam around outside in the warmer months— they put fans and pools out there, so they can play in the yard without being distracted by the heat. And they don’t just let doting owners call to check in on their dogs; they’ve rigged up a system of 16 cameras and a webcam, so owners can watch their dogs, in real time, no matter where they are. “That helps,” Cathy says. “You like to be able to see what they’re doing.” Ask Brannon why he goes to all this trouble—why not just do cage-free doggie day care the basic way? Why all the frills?—and he hardly seems to understand the question. He can’t imagine running a boarding house for dogs and not going above and beyond to make them as happy as he can. “We’re dog crazy here,” he says. house of hounds

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60 wvl • winter 2014

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c A Contemporary Christmas A grand Philippi home is transformed every year for the holidays. written by mikenna

pierotti photographed by carla witt ford

Paying homage to musical and artistic family members, Robin incorporated musical

instruments, sheet music, and musicthemed ornaments into her living room dĂŠcor.

her itage | Spaces MacKenzieChilds is a major design inspiration for Robin—black-

and-white check forms the base for many accent colors and pieces.

step into robin and jan chapman’s Philippi residence anytime in November and be prepared for your jaw to drop. From the understated holiday scene outside—their columned new classical red brick home decked out in traditional red and green—to a contemporary visual feast swathed in black and white fabrics just inside the door, this festive spread is quite the undertaking. And Robin tackles it largely on her own every year. “My husband holds the ladder for me, but I’m such a perfectionist. I have to do everything else myself,” she says. “I love every second. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.” Enter through the front door and you’ll be greeted with a scene that is at once harmonious and whimsical—a foyer with 7-foot trees in MacKenzie-Childs-inspired black-and-white check gives way to a living room with sheet music curling atop a white fireplace mantel, gold music notes dripping from a sparkling chandelier, and Venetian masks peeking out from 9-foot champagne-colored Christmas trees. Nearly every room in this stately home has its own theme come the holidays—from sparkling top hats in the “rat pack” bar to pagodas in the Chinoiserie kitchen. Despite its eclectic feel, Robin’s seasonal panache blends seamlessly into the home’s Dorothy Draper-style furnishings, drywall molds, hand-painted murals, and varied color palette. “It’s mid-century, it’s classical, it’s a mix of several things,” Robin says. Although the home was largely move-in ready when they purchased it, the couple updated it for their own tastes. They redid the floors, recruited a local art teacher to paint murals, and brought in a designer—Margie Carson of Morgantown’s Environments by Motifs. Robin enlisted the guidance of Environments by Motifs for the home’s main design scheme, though she says she undertakes the holiday decorating entirely on her own. “From the beginning I did a little bit here and there and started putting things together. I didn’t have formal training, so when we bought the house six years ago the first thing I did was hire a designer,” she says. “I’m not one of those people who spends lots of time on Pinterest or who posts their ideas on Facebook. I do look at those places and get great ideas for things like Christmas candy. But sometimes I’ll just see something in a shop window and that will get me thinking about how I can do something similar.” 64 wvl • winter 2014

Spaces | her itage Robin’s holiday decorations include vintage ornaments and a nativity set handmade by the young boys who

lived in the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys, where her grandparents worked. 65

her itage | Spaces From the Rat Pack-themed bar to the shabby chic Victorian mas-

Set back from the world on a wooded lot, the Chapman’s Philippi residence is a respite. The couple spends holidays, many weekends, and summers there, though they also live and work in the Flatwoods area. “We split our time between here and Flatwoods, but because I grew up near Philippi, I’ve always preferred living here,” she says. The Philippi house has played host to large gatherings of upwards of 100 people for events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and an annual Christmas tea party for Robin’s great nieces. It might seem extravagant, but for Robin, big family gatherings are in the blood. Robin was born in Union outside 66 wvl • winter 2014

Philippi, is the daughter of a coal miner, and grew up watching her family pull together big, creative celebrations despite a limited budget. “We didn’t have a lot growing up, but I had a wonderful childhood,” she says. Even her grandparents were decorators at heart, and though they lived and worked at the old West Virginia Industrial School for Boys, now Pruntytown Correctional Center near Grafton, they still managed to put on fun holiday celebrations with homemade ornaments and Christmas trees brimming with goodies every year. Robin says it takes about three weeks to put her decorations up and a week to put them

ter bedroom, every room in Robin’s house has a theme for Christmastime.

all away, but she starts planning long before the first winter frost, and she’s constantly on the lookout for new focal pieces and accents. “By January 7 or so, it’s all away. But by then I’m already thinking about what I’ll do next year.” She also admits her décor is slowly taking over the home’s storage space. “Oh my goodness my basement. I’m telling you, I need a whole storage house just for my Christmas stuff. But I have it down to a fine art. I’m very careful about the organization.” While she insists her parties really are lowkey—even if her décor is more like a work of art—she’s happy to give decorating advice to guests or family members who seek it. “I always say, ‘Do it how you like it. Traditional is great, but it’s not for everyone. Do what you like, that way you’ll enjoy the process,” she says. She also recommends building up a collection slowly, looking for sales, keeping organized, and going in with a solid plan— while staying flexible. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match. I like to pair old metals with new and classical with whimsical.” She also stresses being prepared. “Always buy your own lights. Even if it says ‘pre-lit.’” While she finds a lot of focal pieces among her own family heirlooms and some at local shops, she’s really an Internet savvy decorator. “I shop mostly online. I use eBay all the time and my husband says I have my own drone from Amazon.” While she’ll happily relate how she comes from a family of expressive people—her mother loved to paint and shop for antiques, her father was a painter and a musician, and her sisters were musical, too—she still believes she didn’t get the creative gene, despite her penchant for decorating. “I can’t paint or sing or dance or play instruments,” she laughs. “I tried. They even bought me a tambourine.” The world of brushes and paint and musical notes might not be hers, but one look inside her home and you can clearly make out her imaginative roots. “I have no rules, no rhyme or reason,” she says. “But I know what I like. Maybe there’s art in that.”

Bright Ideas for

Whether you’re doing the planning or the dreaming, a baby shower should be unique and fun for everyone. written by mikenna

photographed by carla

pierotti witt ford

heR itAGe | Celebrations


e’ve all been there. The typical baby shower with lackluster arrangements of pink and blue everything—balloons, mints, fake flowers, and sheet cake—served up with blah pasta salad and awkward baby-themed games washed down with punch. Bringing a life into the world is a big thing, and we think the celebration of that event should be equally amazing—for the parents-to-be and the guests. So think outside the diaper bag and get creative with décor, food, and drink. And don’t stress. We’re here to help.

Vintage Milk-andCookies-Mustache Baby Shower We don’t know about you, but we think pink or blue shouldn’t be your go-to theme. Some couples choose not to know their baby’s gender and some prefer not to genderize color. So when one of our own employees announced her pregnancy, we threw her a hip milk-and-cookies-themed party that fits any gender, is budget-friendly, and satisfies guests of all kinds.

ARRANGEMENT Use décor to add height and visual interest. Keep the eye moving on your tables with different heights, shapes, and textures—stack doughnuts and cookies on glass pie plates; arrange your mustachioed straws in a tall milk bottle; set up a metal or wooden milk crate to stack goodies on; keep monochrome candies and crackers in glass cookie jars. Antique (or new) milk bottles in varying sizes and shapes can be cleaned with hot water and soap and used to serve chilled beverages like flavored milk or a more adult drink. Try our Southern bourbon Milk Punch (page 71) served in shot glasses.

COLOR Choose your color scheme and stick to it. black and white are traditionally considered gender-neutral and can really pop when paired with an accent color like red. Try using prints on tablecloths, napkins, even walls. And don’t be afraid to mix them—stripes, chevron, and polka dots can be great neighbors—and mix textures, too. We threw in a few punches of color with bright red felted petal pillows and red and white striped straws. but don’t leave your walls bare if you can help it. We made this dIy block-letter banner in minutes. or you can use funky inflatables like cow-print balloons.

PLANNING Start gathering your décor early. Scour yard sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, Etsy, and even your attic for things like old tin milk pails, milk bottles, milk jugs, and crates. 70 wvl • winter 2014

Celebrations | heR itAGe

diy décor MUSTACHE STRAWS Mustache template Sheets of black cardstock paper White pencil, sharpened Striped straws Hot glue gun 1. Print or draw your mustache template sheet on cardstock and cut out each mustache. 2. lay your cutout template on a sheet of black cardstock. 3. Use the sharp white pencil to lightly outline the cutout onto the paper beneath. 4. remove the template and cut out each mustache around the outside of the white line. 5. Glue one cutout mustache to each straw using hot glue.

Southern Bourbon Milk Punch Not for Mom!

2 ounces bourbon whiskey 3 ounces half-and-half 1 teaspoon sugar ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated In a shaker with ice, pour in bourbon, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Shake well and strain into shot glasses. Garnish with nutmeg and a mustachioed straw. Yield: 4 shots

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened ½ cup butter, softened ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Chocolate chips, to taste 1. In a decorative bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips to taste. Refrigerate one hour or until ready to serve.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled 1 cup crunchy peanut butter 1 cup white sugar 1 cup brown sugar, packed 2 eggs 2½ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1½ teaspoons baking soda 1. Preheat oven to 375º. 2. In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and sugar together, then beat in eggs. 3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add to batter and stir well. Refrigerate one hour. 4. Spoon out dough and roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets or baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Use a fork to flatten. 5. Bake 10 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown. Be careful not to overbake. Yield: 4 dozen

TIP If you pick bendy straws, use a hole punch instead of hot glue. Punch a hole in the middle of each mustache and feed the top of the straw through the hole. bend the top and you’ve got an instant mustache photo prop.

BLOCK LETTER BANNER White or black construction paper, 8½-by-11-inch Patterned scrapbook paper, 12-by-12-inch Glue stick butcher’s twine Scissors Clothespins or tape 1. Choose your favorite font or draw your own. 2. Choose what you want your banner to say, and then type one letter on each page and increase each letter to the point size you prefer. Print each letter. 3. Glue each page with a letter to a single sheet of scrapbook paper. let dry. 4. Use clothespins to secure each letter to the string. Hang loosely on the wall or the front of a table. Secure with tape or pins.

CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE POPS Melting chocolate Mustache mold Treat sticks or popsicle sticks 1. Melt chocolate according to package directions. be careful not to scorch. 2. Pour chocolate into mold until half-full. 3. Place stick in mold. 4. Pour more chocolate into mold until full and repeat for each mustache. 5. refrigerate or freeze until hardened. 71

A Bolder

BISCUIT Beat the winter blues with these unique, award-winning biscuit recipes.


· photographed by carla witt ford

It’s hard to say no to the scent of a freshly baked biscuit. Whether you prefer them piled high with gravy, simple with butter and jam, or fancy with cream and berries, few things are better than enjoying a fresh biscuit on a chilly winter morning, except, perhaps, enjoying two. We’ve asked the winners of the 2014 West Virginia Biscuit Bake Off for their take on the perfect treat. Rest assured that each one will have you running back for seconds.

heR itAGe | Food


Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits the

Bake Off

The 2014 West Virginia biscuit bake off, sponsored by Hudson Cream flour, took place in Marlinton in Pocahontas County in September. out of more than 20 entries, these were the winning recipes. 74 wvl • winter 2014

biscuits 3 cups self-rising flour, plus more for dusting ½ cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon cinnamon ½ cup raisins 1 cup buttermilk glaze ⅔ cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon milk ½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat oven to 400°. Sift or whisk together flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in large bowl. 2. Add raisins and buttermilk, mix together with dry ingredients. 3. Form into a ball and roll out the dough on a floured board. Cut with a 2½-inch biscuit cutter or a drinking glass dipped in flour. Place two inches apart on an oven pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. 4. Combine ingredients for the glaze and spread over warm biscuits before serving. yield: 10 (3-inch) biscuits

Food | heR itAGe


MARLINTON’S JEAN MCCLURE grew up making biscuits the oldfashioned way—plain flour, soda, baking powder, and lard. “I was raised on a farm,” the 62-year-old says. “They were a staple.” Jean’s dad wanted biscuits for breakfast and dinner, and she started helping her mother with the daily preparation when she was only 7 years old. “I was the only girl with three brothers,” Jean says. “I stood on a little box and my mom showed me the basics of how to do it. She was a wonderful cook.” one pan made about 36 biscuits— just enough for one meal. “When you have brothers, biscuits go fast,” she laughs. now the winner of the sweet and savory categories in the 2014 West Virginia biscuit bake off, Jean uses an intuition built over 55 years of baking, though her ingredients are a little different. “Today I use Hudson Cream self-rising flour and buttermilk,” she says. “but these two recipes that won, I made up. That’s how I learned to cook—a pinch of this or a dash of that. I’ll look at something in a cookbook and, if I think it’s not what it should be, I’ll alter it.”


Cheddar Cheese and Bacon with Chives 3 cups self-rising flour, plus more for dusting 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese 4 slices of bacon, cooked, crumbled 2 tablespoons chives, freshly chopped

1. Heat oven to 400°. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the buttermilk. 2. Form the mixture into a ball and roll out the dough on a floured board. Cut with a 2½-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass dipped in flour. Place two inches apart on an oven pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. 3. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. Cool and garnish with a sprig of chive. yield: 10 (3-inch) biscuits

Top 4 Ways to Eat a Biscuit (according to our readers) ❶ Gravy ❷ Honey and butter ❸ Jam or Jelly ❹ Apple butter FOR THE BOLD: Mustard Mashed Potatoes Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly 75

heR itAGe | Food


Nola’s Cast-Iron Buttermilk Biscuits 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 2 tablespoons sugar 5 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 2 teaspoons salt 1 stick butter, cold and cut into pieces ½ cup shortening 1½ cups buttermilk ¼ cup melted butter 1. Preheat oven to 450°. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl. 2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the dry mixture to form peasized pieces. 3. Fold in the buttermilk until the dough comes together. 4. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and press the dough out 1 to 1½ inches thick. Do not knead the dough. Cut out circles with a drinking glass. Place the biscuits in cast-iron skillets, then brush the tops with the melted butter. 5. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. note: These biscuits have a buttermilk tang and are great paired with apple butter, jam, or honey. yield: 14 (2½-inch) biscuits

TR A D ITI O N A L R E C I PE Winner

MORNING BISCUITS AT NOLA TODD’S house in Charleston began the way they often do—with bisquick. Until, that is, the 76 wvl • winter 2014

enterprising 10-year-old learned how much better they taste made from scratch. “It’s a lot more fun,” nola says. “bisquick is easier, but when I make the homemade ones I know that I made them.” by chance and with a little push from her father, daniel Todd, nola’s decided to enter the 2014 biscuit contest. “My dad told me about the contest and he knew I liked to make biscuits. He said I could do it if I wanted to,” she says. nola found her recipe for cast-iron biscuits on a food network

cooking show and altered it a bit to make it her own. “I was nervous while I was baking and presenting, but I knew if I didn’t win it would be oK because it was just for fun.” nola did win, in the traditional biscuit category. dad and daughter were both surprised and proud, especially daniel, who thought the buttermilk they purchased to make the biscuits was a little stronger than usual. daniel says the win has inspired a cast-iron baking frenzy at home, and nola is whipping up recipes for cast-iron cookies.

Staff Pick

Sweet Potato Biscuits ¾ cup sweet potato, chilled, peeled, and mashed 1¾ cups self-rising flour, plus more for kneading and shaping 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 2½ teaspoons baking powder 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus ½ tablespoon melted butter and more for pan ⅓ cup buttermilk 1. Preheat oven to 425°. Wrap one large sweet potato in a paper towel and cook in microwave until tender and place in fridge to cool. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal—it’s OK to see lumps of butter in mix. In a small bowl, whisk together mashed sweet potato and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined. Do not overmix. 3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. If dough is too sticky, add a small of amount of flour. Shape into a circle, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. 4. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than once). 5. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits close to each other. Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden, rotating once, 20 to 24 minutes. yield: 8 biscuits

Blueberry Freezer Jam 6 cups fresh (or thawed) blueberries 2 cups sugar*

1. Lightly blend berries in a blender or food processor. Don’t overdo it; you want some sizable pieces in your jam. 2. Pour blended berries into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When

berries begin to simmer, slowly stir in sugar. 3. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should begin to thicken. Be careful, it can easily spill over the pot if you’re not watching.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 to 15

minutes, then pour into pint jars. Refrigerate, or freeze for later.

*Honey may be substituted for sugar. yield: About 4 cups 77


Living in

Clarksburg Once a hub for just about everything in North Central West Virginia, Clarksburg is now reinventing itself. written by Laura Wilcox Rote photographed by Carla Witt Ford


ven during trying times in the city, people from Clarksburg are loyal. Don’t mistake them as being from another place in the county or region. They are from Clarksburg, not Bridgeport or Fairmont or Anmoore. I can say that because I know—I’m from Clarksburg. People who don’t know the county seat of Harrison County think the city is simply where the Walmart is or, if a little more familiar, that it extends down to the county courthouse on West Main Street downtown. But Clarksburg is so much more. Driving through— really driving through—you know it. There are more neighborhoods than you may realize—areas like Adamston, North View, Glen Elk, and Stealey, plus more rural communities off of U.S. Routes 50 or 19. Not one but three high schools are in Clarksburg, and 18,000 call the city home. Like many places across West Virginia, a lot has changed over the years, and, as locals know, the Clarksburg of 50 years ago is not the Clarksburg of today. But that’s OK. A good look around proves the city is reinventing itself, a little bit at a time.

Bright Future

“The year 2015 will be a very significant year,” says Cathy Goings, Clarksburg mayor and small business owner. “You’re going to see the whole landscape of downtown Clarksburg change.” Soon a new state office complex will open on Main Street, and in the future a new hotel and conference center is expected to open in the central business district. In November 2014 the Clarksburg Urban Renewal Authority issued a request for proposals for the hotel project—anticipated to have 160 beds plus as much as 15,000 square feet of meeting space and an 8,000-square foot ballroom. Cathy hopes construction will begin in 2015. Then there’s the old Robinson Grand Theater (circa 1912), also formerly known as the Rose Garden Theater, on West Pike Street. The city purchased it in 2014 and an architectural firm was working in fall to assemble a request for proposals for interior work. “We have no true venue for traditional entertainment—concerts, dance recitals, plays,” she says. “You can go to the various schools, but we have nothing within the immediate downtown that draws people here. We were lacking in cultural-type activities, and I think the Rose Garden Theater will fill that niche.” Clarksburg used to be abuzz with activity day and night, with much of the region’s shopping, dining, and business downtown, according to Kathie Titus, executive director of the Greater Clarksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). “It’s not the hub any longer for evening things like it used to be, but I think that’s changing.”

Remembering the Past

A slow drive down West Main Street reveals beautiful homes that date back to the 1800s. The Stealey-Goff Vance House (circa 1807) is thought to be the oldest house still standing in Clarksburg. Heading east, you’ll find the Keeley House, the Nathan J. Coplin House, and others built around the 1870s. “There’s a lot of history here,” Cathy says. 82 wvl • winter 2014

“We have a lot of antebellum homes.” The mayor herself lives in a home that dates back to 1900. Some of the historic houses still standing have been transformed over the years. Perhaps the most famous example is the Waldomore (circa 1839), Clarksburg’s principal piece of preserved architecture from the 19th century. No longer a residence, the Waldomore operates as part of the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library and also houses the West Virginia Collection with support from the Harrison County Genealogical Society. Next door to the library, you’ll find homegrown historian David Houchin buried under a stack of old papers upstairs in the whitecolumned Neo-Classical brick mansion on any given day. David has lived in Clarksburg most of his life—returning in the ’80s after college in Morgantown. Though the Waldomore is not nearly as busy as it used to be, visitors still trickle in to research their families’ genealogies or take tours of the old house and its quirks—from its 1923 counterweight elevator to the Gray Barker Room. “Barker was a UFO writer and publisher and minor celebrity for 30 years, from 1953 until his death in 1984,” David says. “His little best seller—They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers—introduced the ‘men in black.’”


History abounds downtown. The city plans to revive the historic Robinson Grand Theater, while Stonewall Jackson looks on from the county courthouse. At the Waldomore, visitors can uncover a wealth of family history and more.


Locals hope to preserve the building that was once the grand Waldo Hotel. The Keeley House on East Main Street was built in the 1870s. Embellishments offers two floors of fine shopping. In North View, folks line up for D’Annunzio’s fresh Italian bread. Glen Elk is a historic neighborhood in Clarksburg.

Looking out the window on a fall day, David mourns the old buildings no longer standing downtown. “People who remember Clarksburg in 1955 or 1962 or something like that come back and say it’s unrecognizable. They don’t see the place they lived in at all,” he says, adding that much of downtown was established as a historic district decades ago, but that didn’t entirely save it. Some 50 buildings have been demolished within the district over the years. “Some of them weren’t necessarily architectural masterpieces, and you don’t leave the same buildings in place forever unless they’re adaptable—adaptation is what saved this building— but that’s a lot. And the demolitions continue.” The old, eight-story Waldo Hotel, one of the grandest hotels in the region more than a century ago, has long been in danger of being demolished, but that story’s ending may have recently been rewritten, according to Vice Mayor Gary Bowden. A Beaux-Arts style hotel with Moorish influence, the Waldo was added to the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s Endangered Properties List in 2009, and in 2014 the property was under contract for purchase by a developer who was said to be working to repair and redevelop the building. “It’s miraculous that we’re talking about positive developments at the Waldo Hotel,” Gary says.

But the history is not just in the city’s architecture. Clarksburg is also home to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who was born here in 1824. You’ll find a large statue of the Confederate general atop a horse in front of the Harrison County Courthouse. Just south of Clarksburg, the West Virginia CCC Museum opened in 2002 in the old Quiet Dell schoolhouse, just off of Interstate 79 Exit 115. On the National Register of Historic Places, the schoolhouse now houses Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) memorabilia and hosts juried artisans who make and sell West Virginia heritage crafts. The CCC had more than 4,000 camps nationally and nearly 70 camps in West Virginia from 1933 to 1944. Its members fought forest fires, built bridges, planted trees, and developed state parks, among other tasks.

Shop Local, Live Local

“The whole downtown has changed over the years with the malls and everything, but now I’m starting to see people grow tired of the big-box stores,” Cathy says. “They want unique and creative—they are starting to migrate back into the small downtowns to get their specialized products and service.” Cathy says more people are looking to live in the heart of the city, too, as more buildings in Clarksburg are 83

converted into loft apartments. “We didn’t have that when I started 14 years ago,” she says. “The younger workforce wants to work, live, and play all within the same neighborhood.” Downtown, unique shopping has never been easier, with free two-hour parking under the Jackson Square pavilion off of Traders Avenue. Just up the block from that lot is where Cathy spends much of her time, at Embellishments. She opened the large two-story boutique in 2000, after she and her husband returned to Clarksburg after many years away. In 1999 they bought the building on South Third Street that houses not just Embellishments, but also their restaurant and bar The Fifth Floor, opened in 2007. “When I got started there weren’t a whole lot of these types of businesses here,” Cathy says. Embellishments is a one-stop shop for all of the gifts you could ever need—from Brighton jewelry, Trollbeads, and leather handbags to baby clothes, wine stoppers, and home décor. Upstairs, the space overflows with art, mirrors, and lamps. Cathy also owns Wicked Sisters Clothing Boutique, just around the corner on West Main Street. Wicked Sisters opened in 2004 and is a fashionista’s dream, offering all of the top brands in women’s clothing and accessories, from Big Buddha to Dolce Vita to Erin London. Just steps away, mothers have a hard time making it out of Kendall Leigh Boutique without their arms full of shopping bags. The adorable kids’ clothing shop has two rooms full of not only some of the world’s cutest dresses, but also cool make-yourown jewelry and WVU apparel, plus the sweetest hair bows, coziest pajamas, and best gifts for little kids. For a real bargain, look no further than Looking Glass Consignment Shoppe, also on West Main. The vast store is arranged meticulously by color and size, with a plethora of clothes, shoes, purses, and even wedding dresses and prom gowns. On the same block, Fabulous Lulu’s is one of Clarksburg’s newest shops, with one-of-a-kind art and nifty gifts for everyone from your sister to your dog Spot. “It’s a little different than any other store in Clarksburg. We get an eclectic assortment of things and we get an eclectic assortment of people who come in,” says Amanda Leaseburg, who owns the store as well as the large art studio, The Starving Artist, above the shop with her husband, Bill. The shop carries the popular Natural Life brand—accessories, notebooks, décor, and more—and takes custom orders for paintings or even hand-painted children’s chairs, all made upstairs. Clarksburg also has its share of specialty stores that stand the test of time. Across from the boutiques and just a stone’s throw from the courthouse on West Main Street, we can’t forget James & Law Company, established in 1899. The historic store continues to offer a huge selection of West Virginia books, souvenirs, and educational and office supplies, as well as two floors of office furniture. At the opposite end of downtown, you’ll find more personalized service at Byard-Mercer Pharmacy, first established as Mercer Drug Store in 1890. Not quite as historic but just as individualized and beloved, anyone who’s ever had an interest in music knows about Bandland on East Pike Street. Inside, students of all ages take private lessons or shop for drum sets, guitars, or high school marching band instruments. The store opened in 1964. 84 wvl • winter 2014

James & Law, Wicked Sisters Clothing Boutique, Fabulous Lulu’s, and Kendall Leigh

Boutique offer unique shopping in the heart of Clarksburg.

Back toward the interstate, Clarksburg is home to the largest strip mall in the state, according to the CVB, with countless stores and restaurants at the Eastpointe and New Pointe developments. “The two of them together—you turn off Route 50 and it wraps around the mountain,” Kathie says. For beautiful formalwear, Oliverio’s Bridal and Prom Boutique is a must-stop for models, brides-to-be, and anyone going to the big dance. Eastpointe and New Pointe are also home to everything from big names like Starbucks and Walmart to local favorites like Jack’s Furniture Center and The Shoe Story.

Arts & Entertainment

While projects like the old Robinson Grand Theater may take time, other art and entertainment opportunities have cropped up in Clarksburg in recent years. Just upstairs from Fabulous Lulu’s, Amanda and Bill run The Starving Artist Studio. Art parties and painting classes like Paint Therapy, Kids Paint, and Paint Your Pet take place nearly nightly, and private parties are popular at this cheerful studio. “If you’ve never painted before in your life, we take you from zero knowledge up to a finished painting in up to two hours,” Amanda says. Bill and Amanda also participate in Jazz Stroll, an event that takes place every couple of months in Clarksburg. A Holiday Jazz Stroll will take place on December 12, 2014, beginning at 6 p.m. “There’s five or six different venues on the block and each one hosts a jazz ensemble,” Bill says. “It’s a nice night—it’s nice to see people out walking about in the evening in Clarksburg.” Born and raised in Clarksburg but having lived other places, too, Bill says some people can be quick to say there’s nothing to do. “They forget to point out things that are happening. There’s quite a revitalization in the area,” he says. “People are trying really hard to get things going on downtown.” And it seems to be working. From live music to comedy, things are happening. Kathie points to a new event center in town that’s making great progress. The Uptown Event Center, formerly the Harrison County YWCA, is operated by the Progressive Women’s Association. There, The Vintage Theatre Company hosts frequent shows, including The Fearless Fools, one of few comedy troupes in West Virginia, coached by a Clarksburg native and based in Clarksburg, though the group also tours the state. “They do all kinds of fun dinner theater things,” Kathie says of the Uptown Event Center. “They do dances, too. It’s packed every time. It tells you they’re meeting a need in this community.” Then there are the big annual events in Clarksburg— namely the Italian Heritage Festival in late August, but also the New Year’s Eve bash at Jackson Square and the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival in September.

Good Eats clockwise

The Starving Artist offers many classes. Buy peppers and more at Oliverio’s Cash & Carry. Kelly’s Irish Pub &

Grill is a popular stop, and Ritzy Lunch is known for its hot dogs. Tomaro’s Bakery has been a staple for 100 years.

Pasta, pizza, pepperoni rolls—visitors won’t go hungry in this city of Italian heritage. “Everybody raves about the food,” Cathy says. “They have to come get their Tomaro’s bread, their pepperoni rolls, their Oliverio’s peppers, and go to Minard’s.” Minard’s Spaghetti Inn on East Pike Street has been serving up familiar, home-style Italian dishes since the 1930s. On the 85

high ceilings, and an unbeatable view. “It’s probably the only place in the downtown area that has a view of old Route 50. It’s nice up there during winter,” she says. From the bar, you can enjoy a fine martini and look out the window as the snow falls. It’s one of Cathy’s favorite places. “When you step out of the elevator, everybody says they feel like they’ve been transported to another city.” During the day, The Fifth Floor is a great place for a panini, soup, or flatbread. Also on South Third Street, Kelly’s Irish Pub & Grill opens for lunch and stays open late, turning into a popular music venue and bar after dinner. There are plenty of options for a quick bite in Clarksburg, too. Locals are quick to vouch for The Bluebird, just up from the courthouse. A cafeteria setup and lunch specials keep the crowds coming back day after day for something new. Looking for more pepperoni rolls? Pop into Home Industry Bakery tucked beside Embellishments. The local bakery has been baking pepperoni rolls, doughnuts, and other goodies for longer than most of us have been alive. For some of the best hot dogs in the state, arrive early to Ritzy Lunch, a diner-style hot dog joint with devout fans for decades on West Pike Street. Near Stealey, you won’t be disappointed with a slice of pie from Vito’s Pizza & Restaurant.


The Mayor’s Fitness Trail is home to walkers and joggers year-round, while nearby, playgrounds are

plentiful. The Fifth Floor has great views, food, and drinks. The Veterans Memorial Park keeps getting better.

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same busy road, Raymon’s has been known for great pasta and large portions for decades. Nearby, the Red Caboose is a great place to watch the game and order up some wings, or try Parkette for one of its delicious hoagies. A fine dining must in the area is the Wonder Bar Steakhouse, specializing in steaks, chops, and seafood since the ’40s. Also off of Old Bridgeport Hill, the Clique Club has been cooking up some of the best steaks in town since 1949. Clarksburg is also home to a surprising number of cash-and-carry storefronts. Oliverio’s Italian Style Peppers in Glen Elk has been a favorite since the Oliverio family opened its grocery store in Clarksburg in the 1930s, canning perfect peppers in sauce locals swear by. One minute away, complete your lunch menu at the 100-year-old, familyowned Tomaro’s Bakery (cash or check only). In the North View neighborhood, you can also pick up fresh Italian bread or pepperoni rolls with cash or check from the Health Bread Company (also known as D’Annunzio’s). Also in North View, Marino Brothers Meats & Cheeses is a small Italian neighborhood market known for its Italian sausage and olives. People will travel across state lines for a taste of fine dining at Julio’s Café, off the beaten path in Glen Elk. The familyowned Italian restaurant has some of the best pasta—and wine—in the state and is a popular choice for private parties. Back downtown, Cathy established The Fifth Floor to fill a void. The restaurant and bar is hidden away—down a hallway and up an elevator to the fifth floor—and has exposed brick,

With all of those food options, it’s a good thing Harrison County has great options for staying active. “I think we have the best park system in the state,” says Kathie, noting the 58-acre Lowndes Hill Park and the 52-acre Veterans Memorial Park, among the 18 parks in Clarksburg. “Veterans Memorial Park has become a destination in itself,” she says. Referred to by locals as VA Park, it has received state-of-the-art upgrades in recent years, including the Splash Zone, a new boat ramp, and an amphitheater. The amphitheater—now with more bleachers—keeps improving, Cathy says. “It is a great venue. We’ve had several top artists out there for the summer. It draws a very large crowd, and we’re generally sold out.” Clarksburg City Park near Nutter Fort is also home to ball fields and miniature golf and hosts many festivals and special events. One of the most frequented features of the VA Park, though, is the mile-and-a-half long Mayor’s Fitness Trail that begins by the river and is open year-round. You’ll also find multiple playgrounds, tennis courts, disc golf, ball fields, a dog park, and skate park at Veterans Memorial Park. Nearby, the vast Nathan Goff Armory hosts everything from rock concerts to wrestling. Traveling south on Route 19, the Harrison County Recreation Complex/4-H center has more playgrounds and is also home to special events. And back on Lowndes Hill you’ll find the popular Harrison County YMCA. Lowndes Park is also a favorite of civil war buffs, as former trenches are still visible in the area. Considering the vast number of parks and the growing opportunities for recreation and the arts, officials and small business owners alike say the future is bright. Indeed, Clarksburg is undergoing a transformation. “We’ve been working on these projects for a number of years,” Cathy says. “But it seems like now everything is starting to fall into place.”



Snowmobiling in West Virginia is a little-known source of high-octane winter weather excitement. written by Mikenna Pierotti photographed by Carla Witt Ford

Snowshoe Mountain offers three snowmobiling adventure tours for all experience levels.


4,500 feet the winter wind on the Highland Scenic Highway doesn’t just howl, it keens. Sweeping up the valleys and over the ridges—the cold and snow are legendary in the upper elevations of Pocahontas County. But the men and women you’ll find hugging the curves of this snaky little road through the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, barreling through drifts on Arctic Cats and Yamahas, don’t seem to care. Throw it all at them. They thrive on this weather. “Being a West Virginia native, I bought my first snowmobile probably in the mid-80s,” says Andy Gibson, outdoor adventure lead supervisor at Snowshoe Mountain, one of the state’s premier fourseason resort destinations. A man with 25 or so years of snowmobiling under his belt, Andy talks about his level of experience like it’s nothing special. Still, his unofficial title is “outdoor adventure guru” and he takes winter sports very seriously. “It was just another form of transportation in the winter. It was something we always did, but it’s also a lot of fun, so it became something of a passion of mine.” Although snowmobilers near and far travel to Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Tucker County every March for the resort’s annual slope-side race, Andy says the parkway section of West Virginia Route 150—also

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known as the Highland Scenic Highway—is one of the few public places in West Virginia where snowmobiles have free rein. It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the region. “The scenic highway runs through some of the most beautiful terrain in the Monongahela National Forest. The parkway section of the route, where snowmobilers frequent, follows the ridgeline for about 22 miles. In the wintertime they don’t plow it. They just put up a sign that says ‘No Snow Removal Beyond This Point.’” Once the signs go up, Andy says, the sledheads appear, and wheeled traffic virtually disappears as everything from Cranberry Glades to Seneca Rocks gets painted over in white and the wind whips it all into dramatic drifts and valleys. Riders are restricted to the roadway only, but Andy says that’s never been a deterrent among snowmobiling enthusiasts. “You can get miles and miles of great riding in,” he says. “And the views are amazing.” True, most wouldn’t think of West Virginia as a destination for this motorized winter sport, but for many who live among the ridgetops, it’s a way of life. West Virginia has vast swaths of protected lands where snowmobiles are not permitted, and warmer winter weather in the southern counties means snowfall isn’t always adequate. But, Andy says, things are different in the highlands. “With the elevations and the extreme winter weather, if folks have access to the mountaintops and if they use an ATV, chances are they have a snowmobile, too,” he says. “They have to.” And novice snowmobilers are in luck in the state. In fact, Snowshoe Mountain’s three distinct snowmobiling adventure tours attract nearly 2,500 people of all experience levels every year. This sport is even touted as one of the resort’s most popular winter activities. “We’ve been doing snowmobile tours since the late 1990s,” says Ben Brannon, outdoor adventure manager at Snowshoe. “A lot of our guests have never ridden before. They’re often southern skiers who rarely see snow in their home states, and rarely get to go out in it. Snowmobiling here is a very immersive experience for them.” Ben, a native of Ohio, didn’t start snowmobiling until he came to work at Snowshoe and learned the hard way that winters here can be tough. “My first winter here it was like, ‘This is your only transportation.’ So on a daily basis I was getting myself and my supplies back and forth primarily using a snowmobile. It was a steep learning curve, but once I got it, it was a lot of fun.”

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The one-hour evening tour along Snowshoe’s basin comes highly recommended.

Snowmobiling isn’t for everyone, Ben says, but he’s confident that a tour at Snowshoe can get nearly anyone up and running. “It’s an active riding machine. You can’t just sit on it and steer. There’s motion involved—you have to lean into turns and move around in the seat. In challenging terrain we even teach people how to stand up and shift their weight. You can’t be timid on it. When the snow is deep, you have to keep that momentum.” Snowshoe is famous for its skiing, snowcat tours, tubing, and off-road Polaris RZR adventures, but snowmobiling offers high-octane excitement on the level of jet skiing or ATV riding, set in the awe-inspiring winter wonderland of Pocahontas County. “These people are looking for something a little faster, a little more challenging,” Andy says. “If they go with us, we’re going to teach them everything they need to know to control the machine—proper leaning, how to accelerate on the turns, and how to brake. We’ll even supply the helmets. They just have to bring proper footwear, gloves, and layers—lots of layers.” For first-timers and families, Ben recommends the resort’s most popular product—the evening tour along Snowshoe’s basin. “This is where we do a one-hour tour on the slopes where it’s snowmaking-supported. It’s a

great introduction to the sport and it’s perfect for families because children can ride as well,” he says. Led by expert guide staff, the tour begins with a full safety briefing and ample time to practice before a group is allowed to move out onto the slopes. “We get everyone comfortable, starting with safety and a briefing on the machine. Then we do practice laps and we make sure everyone is confident,” Ben says. “The tour guides spend a lot of energy making sure guests are comfortable and having a good time.” Available mid-December to end of March, the one-hour basin tour even permits families with children as young as 6 and as old as 15 to ride as passengers over fun but accessible terrain—gentle inclines, declines, and side slopes that allow riders to take in sweeping views of the resort and the snow-dusted mountains beyond. But if you’d rather ride with sun and blue winter skies overhead, the daytime backcountry family tour is another great option, and both children and adults can ride as passengers. Also great for novice snowmobilers, guides start with safety and the pace is slow, progressing as riders gain confidence moving through scenic vistas—photo-ops included—and sparkling wilderness trails. “When guests arrive and go through the check-in process, we actually 93

have a demo machine and we’ll start off discussing correct riding style and best practices and be able to demonstrate on the machine all the techniques that are going to serve them best,” Ben says. “It’s an opportunity for people to get themselves comfortable in their minds. Then we get people on the machines and go through the controls with each individual. Once people understand the basics, we run at least two practice laps through all the types of terrain, so everyone can feel all the motions they will experience on the tour. In these beginner tours, if we see someone who looks like they aren’t completely comfortable, this is our opportunity to help them gain confidence with the machine. The pace is really geared toward the lowest level of confidence in the group, but if we have varying ability levels, we can split it up and make sure everyone has a good time.” The nearly two-hour backcountry family tour is weather-dependent, however, so Ben recommends signing up for a basin tour and asking about upgrading later if the weather looks promising. “Typically it takes a couple snowfalls. But we generally know when the weather is going to give us what we need. We try to make that determination at least a week out and get our inventory ready.” If you’d rather venture off the map entirely and you have the confidence to pull it off, Snowshoe has a 94 wvl • winter 2014

snowmobiling product Ben refers to as the backcountry adventure. This tour also depends on weather and can take up to two hours. Passengers are not allowed. “Because of the varied terrain, it’s more dangerous to have passengers. It increases the chances of a rollover,” he says. Although he recommends tour guests have some snowmobiling experience, if you’ve ridden ATVs, jet skis, or motorcycles, you’ll probably catch on fast. This tour covers 15 to 20 miles of somewhat unpredictable terrain—deep snowfields, narrow hill climbs, fire roads, towering old growth spruce forests, and even frozen creek crossings under the right conditions. “In terms of the backcountry, the terrain range is quite large, which is what makes Snowshoe such a great destination for snowmobiling once the snow really hits.” No one would disagree that West Virginia’s often extreme terrain carries with it unique challenges, but Andy says that’s what makes it such a fun experience for anyone who ventures to try gas-powered winter fun. “A snowmobile is its own beast, its own machine. There are little quirks and nuances you need to know about. But by the end of an hour we can have almost anyone riding like a pro.” Ben says it’s rare they find someone who walks away from a snowmobiling experience unhappy. “The reactions we see are smiles ear to ear. Even the most inexperienced will walk away saying, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’”,

home marketplace

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Huntington’s Keith-Albee Theatre is as grand as it is historic.

written by

Shay Maunz photographed by

Elizabeth Roth & Nikki Bowman


n its early days, the Keith-Albee Theatre was sometimes called a house of splendor. That sounds melodramatic—until you step inside. The stage is surrounded by layers and layers of embellishment—gold columns meet elegant plaster scrolls, which border sumptuous velvet curtains draped to form graceful curves. The seats are covered in plush red velvet. The ceiling is a rich shade of blue and covered in hundreds of twinkling lights—it looks just like the nighttime sky. “When you go inside it’s designed to be like you’re standing inside the courtyard of a Spanish castle,” says Bob Edmunds, who helps run the daily operations at the Keith-Albee. Tyson Compton, president of the Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau, grew up in eastern Kentucky and remembers coming to Huntington with his family on the weekends. “We’d come to town and go shopping, go to a football game, all that,” he says. “But the biggest thrill for me was to be able to go to the Keith-Albee. It’s so large and beautiful—the grandeur of it was just overwhelming.” The entrepreneur brothers who built the Keith-Albee in 1928 wanted to give audiences an escape from the tedium of their daily lives, and they thought the theater itself was almost as important as what was happening onstage. “They got the idea of building a grand movie palace,” Bob says. “The idea was to gather an audience and give them someplace to go that was not ordinary.”

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Bob has been working at the Keith-Albee for 40 years now—he started as an usher in the 1970s, and today he is on the board for the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Foundation. He’s seen the theater through ups and downs and twists and turns—and he’s watched it come back from the brink. In less than four years the Keith-Albee will turn 90, and the theater looks good for its age. It’s not as glitzy as it once was, but it’s still beautiful, and it’s still grand. The Keith-Albee was built in 1928 by A.B. and S.J. Hyman to host vaudeville acts and films. The Hyman brothers already owned several other theaters in town, but built this theater to be the grandest of them all. They hired a famous New York City architect to design the 3,000-seat building, spent $2 million on construction, and approached the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation, the premier vaudeville circuit on the East Coast, about an affiliation. The Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation agreed and gave the theater its name, and the Huntington theater joined a list of theaters around the country that got frequent visits from the company’s touring variety shows. Things changed in the 1930s with the decline of vaudeville and the rise of movies, and the Keith-Albee started in earnest its life as a movie theater. But even then, the Keith-Albee was one of the city’s top-notch theaters and showed the newest, most popular movies. “During the Depression you could pay your 15 cents and come spend all afternoon or evening at the theater—and

In the last 10 years renovations to the KeithAlbee have

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gone a long way toward returning it to its former glory, and a

campaign is under way to raise money for even more improvements.

flashier theaters in town that could show more than one movie at the same time, so in the late 1960s the owners decided to convert it into a multiplex. They installed walls to form two smaller showing rooms in the auditorium under the balcony, put another theater in a side room, and left the front of the house open for first-run films. The owners also went about automating many of the controls, so one person could dim the house lights, raise the curtain, and start the movie with the push of a button. “When this building opened it took 60 people to run it,” Bob says. “When they closed it down a shift was three people, sometimes four or five on the weekends.” But even with those efforts the theater struggled to remain viable, and in 2006, the Greater Huntington Theater Corporation gifted the building to the Marshall University Foundation. The Foundation, in turn, gifted the building to the newly formed Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, and work on renovations began. The first thing the foundation did was pull out those partitions and restore it to a single auditorium. Thankfully, the Huntington Theater Corporation was a good steward for the building—those partitions covered up the historic decorative work in the auditorium, but they didn’t harm it. “We could just come in and drop those walls, and the decorative plaster was there underneath,” Bob says. They also repaired the roof and located and acquired the Wurlitzer organ that was original to the theater. These days the Keith-Albee is getting a lot of use, both as a movie theater and a playhouse. The Marshall Artists Series uses the theater every year—this year it’s bringing in stars like Jay Leno and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons—and the Huntington Symphony Orchestra does several annual shows there. Twice a year Marshall puts on a weeklong film festival at the theater, and sometimes private groups booked the space for performances. People even get married there. The foundation is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise the money it needs to continue the building’s restoration. The members want to complete cosmetic enhancements like replacing the carpeting and reupholstering the seats, but before they can get to this place was so elegant it would take you far away from that they need to spend many millions of dollars on your humdrum house for a reasonable sum of money,” less glamorous renovations—things like plumbing and Bob says. “My mother used to tell us that she would electrical work. “You don’t think of water pipes and air work all day in the shoe store and make her 25 cents, and conditioning as fancy, exciting items,” Bob says. “When that was enough to go to the movies and have a box of you tell people they can donate money and you’ll put their popcorn, and still have enough to put money in the box at name on a water pipe, it doesn’t do much for them. But church on Sunday.” we want to restore it back to first-class operation, and The Keith-Albee was owned by the Hyman brothers’ that’s what we need to do.” company, the Greater Huntington Theater Corporation, Tyson says the theater is sure to play an important role for the rest of the 20th century, even as that company in the revitalization story of Huntington. “The Keithwas twice passed to a younger generation within the Albee serves as a magnet to keep 4th Avenue vibrant Hyman family. It continued to operate as a movie theater, and alive," he says. “On a night when there’s a Marshall though as time went on the theater’s age showed more Artists Series performance and there are thousands and more—it was kept in good working condition, but of people on the street, it really does feel great to be was no longer the elegant, first-rate movie palace it once downtown in Huntington.” was. It also faced increased competition from newer, 103


l a e R

? n a i n i g r i V t Wes

inia in g r i V est Mounta W r u yo our el lany. e t r s u n s i Mea dge aga ow misc le kn know te mustSta


written by Katie Griffith • photographed by Carla Witt Ford

he correct way to enjoy all four seasons is to be surrounded by nature. The most likely place to find plump berries is in a sun-fi lled meadow or by the side of a country road where berry bushes love to grow. Apple butter is the best thing to happen to bread—ever. There are certain things West Virginians just know. And some things only the real experts know: the art of a ginseng hunt, how to pitch a tent, the name of the famous West Virginian whose silhouette creates the NBA logo, or who came up with those terrifying tales in The Telltale Lilac Bush we all read as children. Does your Mountain State knowledge make the grade? We’ve compiled a list of things that every expert West Virginian should know, whether you’re a native or a transplant. Grab a friend and go through the list. See how many you’ve experienced—enough to be considered expert?—and which ones will be experienced on your next adventure. At the end you can tally up your answers and, if your scores pass muster, live proud in the knowledge that you’re a real West Virginian.


stargazed at ★ Calhoun County Park? It’s one of the darkest places in the state. ★ Green Bank in Pocahontas County? ★ in the Canaan Valley in Tucker County?





eaten a pepperoni roll?


MONONGAHELA “Muh-nahn-guh-hee-luh” ❑






CABELL “Cab-bull”

on november 14, 1970, an airplane crash killed 75 people, including the 1970 Marshall University football team, athletic staff, boosters, and the plane crew. The team was returning from a game against East Carolina. “We Are Marshall” continues to be the university’s and surrounding community’s rallying cry. The events inspired the film by the same name.

Put on your protective gear, grab your maul and splitting wedge, and swing away. Stack it up to stay warm on chilly winter nights.







PonCHo, PACK CoVEr, SnACKS, & MAPS food, CloTHInG, & CrEW GEAr TEnT WATEr boTTlE



SlEEPInG bAG 105

What historic event took place at Harpers Ferry?


Exit a ski lift?


Mary Lou Retton




The story that inspired October Sky tells of boys growing up in Coalwood during the height of the coal industry and their adventures creating a successful amateur rocket. Homer Hickam and friends Quentin Wilson, roy lee Cooke, Sherman Siers, Jimmy Carroll, and billy rose launched 35 rockets in three years. Their story continues to inspire kids to enter science and tech fields.

foreshadowing the Civil War, in 1859 abolitionist John brown led 18 men to raid the federal arsenal at Harpers ferry, planning to instigate a slave rebellion throughout the southern slave states.

❑ WHO IS Senator Robert C. Byrd?



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you’d be hardpressed to find a building in West Virginia not named for the late Senator byrd. He was the longest-serving U.S. senator and a powerful West Virginia figure on the national stage, bringing many federal dollars and projects to the Mountain State.


APPALACHIA “App-uh-latcha” ❑





Made Sun Tea? If not, here’s how: 1 large glass pitcher or jar with lid 6 to 8 regular size tea bags

Fill pitcher with 8 cups of cold water then add the bags. Seal with lid.

Place pitcher in full sun (getting 2 to 3 hours of sunlight–up to 4 hours if you prefer a stronger brew).

❸ ❹

After brewing, strain and refrigerate until fully chilled. Add ice cubes and any flavorings before serving.


Wonders of Apple Butter ➻ Slather it on a biscuit ➻ Add it to a cake recipe instead of using oil ➻ Put a dollop in your morning oatmeal ➻ Use it instead of mayo on your turkey sandwich


identify these gems? ginseng

This protected plant grows in patches in shady areas. look for a mature plant with three to five leaves and red berries.


West Virginia goes wild for wild onions in spring. look for broad, light green leaves with purple on the lower stem.


found near dead or dying trees, these mushrooms have long, spongy heads. Similar varieties, usually with shorter heads, aren’t for consumption. When in doubt, drop the ’shroom.


the Mothman?

november 1966 was a strange month for Point Pleasant, as some encountered a creature described as a 7-foot being, shaped like a person but with large red eyes and wings. named the Mothman, the creature reportedly made an abandoned TnT plant its lair. A month after initial sightings, the Silver bridge across the ohio river collapsed, killing more than 40 people. The film The Mothman Prophecies was inspired by these events.



HURRICANE “Hurr-i-cunn” 107

HAPPY Birthday, West virginia


whose birthday is JUNE 20? ❑


pitched a tent? ❑



the perfect dog 108 wvl • winter 2014

SHUTTERSTOCK, nikki bowman



LOCAL BREWS Have you tried at least 4 of these local brews?

Big Timber Brewing Company ELKINS Bridge Brew Works FAYETTEVILLE Charleston Brewing Company CHARLESTON Chestnut Brew Works MORGANTOWN Lost River Brewing Company WARDENSVILLE Morgantown Brewing Company MORGANTOWN Mountain State Brewing Co. THOMAS North End Tavern & Brewery PARKERSBURG


Berry Knowledge? VS


BLACK RASPBERRIES Small, dark raspberries covered with small hairs and hollow—like a regular raspberry. They’re usually sweet and harvested earlier than blackberries.

BLACKBERRIES larger, plumper, and shinier than a black raspberry, and often more tart. They’re not hollow like a raspberry. There’s nothing quite like a blackberry pie.

Great for munching out of hand. 109

❑ Do you know the hunting seasons?* (2014-2015)


Rabbit & Hare







MId-oCTobEr THroUGH MId-noVEMbEr and lATE APrIl THroUGH MAy


noVEMbEr THroUGH fEbrUAry

*See for complete list of seasons and details.



make a campfire? Matewan?


❑ ❑


Bridge Day?

Every year thousands of people visit fayetteville to celebrate the famous new river Gorge bridge. Every third Saturday in october since 1980, participants and spectators have gathered at the bridge to commemorate its completion in 1977. bridge day is the only day of the year people are allowed to bASE jump from the bridge into the new river. festivities also include rappelling from the bridge.

❑ 1





Jerry West is the NBA logo?


“Take Me Home, Country Roads?”





Roll Over in a Kayak? 2

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On May 19, 1920, Matewan was the site of a shootout between miners and guards from Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency representing coal companies. It’s an iconic moment in the miners’ struggle for unionization.

Tally up your checkmarks to find out your score. One check equals one point. Remember: Be honest. EXPERT (30 to 37): Congratulations! You probably won the Golden Horseshoe award, too. You’re the person everyone goes to when they need to know where to find the best apple butter, which covered bridges are most picturesque, or how to whip up a good old-fashioned ramp recipe. Make the most of that knowledge and help your friends discover these things for themselves.

INTERMEDIATE (20 to 29): You’re well on your way to becoming an expert West Virginian. You have enough knowledge to have a good feel for the Mountain State and, even more exciting, you have plenty left to explore. This is your year! How many of these experiences will you get through?

BEGINNER (10 to 19): Great start! You have a taste of West Virginian culture and you’re itching to learn more. Take what you haven’t experienced on this list and make 2015 your year to discover what makes West Virginia so wild and wonderful.

JUST VISITING (0 to 9): You aren’t from around here, are you? That’s OK. It’s the thought that counts. 111

the parting shot | by Carla Witt Ford

Brotherly Love photographed by

Carla Witt Ford

Living in the country is quite different from living in town—especially in winter. Families and neighbors pitch in to clear roads and check on the elderly. Even the animals come by to see how they can help on this back road in Marion County. 112 wvl • winter 2014

WV Living - Winter 2014  

In this issue we go snowmobiling, discover what it's like to live in Clarksburg, and travel to towns with less than 100 residents.

WV Living - Winter 2014  

In this issue we go snowmobiling, discover what it's like to live in Clarksburg, and travel to towns with less than 100 residents.