Executive Summary Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind.
W. H. Auden, The Dyers Hand In the forty plus years following the creation of the West Virginia Antiquities Commission and the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act, historic preservation in West Virginia has come a long way. In the early years, the historic preservation movement focused on creating site museums, but through time its focus expanded. Currently, historic preservation efforts include private residences, historic downtowns, commercial store fronts, industrial complexes, warehouses, battlefields, landscapes, archaeological resources and more. The nature of historic preservation has also changed to reflect and represent the entire American experience. However, the most exciting aspect of this evolution is the development of historic preservation as a powerful mechanism that spurs economic development and betters community. Extensive research has shown that historic preservation is one of the best ways to improve local economies and communities. Through innovative programs like the Main Street Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, communities around the state have made dramatic improvements in their historic downtowns. As a direct result of their efforts, property values have increased and new investments have been made on a large scale. The future of historic preservation as an economic engine also looks promising as heritage tourism starts to take root in West Virginia and have a positive impact.
In a perfect world, historic preservation would be easy, and, to a point, over the past few years it has become easier, but much more work has to be done. Historic resources across the state face the threats of neglect, abandonment, and demolition. Many individuals who want to improve their quality of life and communities that would like to improve their local economies through historic preservation do not have the financial resources necessary to proceed. In other parts of the state, growth, sprawl, and the lack of planning is changing the fabric of West Virginia’s communities for the worse. To address these concerns and others the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) with the participation of stakeholders across the state developed The Past Matters Today: The West Virginia Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2008-2013 to guide its work for the next five years and to provide a framework for others who wish to promote historic preservation in the Mountain State.
To bolster and promote historic preservation in West Virginia the following goals have been established:
Goal 1: Awareness West Virginians will recognize and understand the value of our state’s historic resources.
Goal 2: Identification West Virginians will identify, evaluate, and designate historic resources.
Goal 3: Advocacy West Virginians will support and strengthen historic preservation activities across the state.
Goal 4: Community and Economic Development West Virginians will incorporate historic preservation into economic and community development to maintain a sense of place.
Goal 5: Stewardship West Virginians will safeguard/sustain historic resources in their communities and rural areas throughout the state.
While these goals and objectives are focused on historic preservation, they are also focused on the future. Every West Virginian has a role to play in the future that we create. The choices that we make today will have an impact on the West Virginia of tomorrow. For a future that is rooted in our shared heritage, reflective of our cultural values, and ingrained in our proud traditions, it is important to retain the vestiges of our history; preserve, restore or rehabilitate them; and venerate them as stalwart monuments of our industrious past and as platforms for a dynamic and productive future. To achieve this vision of the future requires the help and support of many people. The SHPO encourages everyone to join with us to make these goals a reality.
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