Laurel Hill Battlefield Historic Registry


 The nomination for National Historic Registry of the Laurel Hill Battlefield Historic District was unanimously approved by an eleven member commission of the State Historic Preservation Office, West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The vote took place on Fri. Feb. 22, in Charleston. broken cannon

Introducing the presentation was Michael Gioulis, Historic Consultant of the Michael Gioulis firm, engaged by the Laurel Hill Foundation for the City of Belington to research and promote the cause for National Historic Registration. Mr. Gioulis provided a slide show of the proposed district and gave a narrative of the historic involvement of the Battlefield during the Civil War in 1861.


The location has significance through preventing the Confederate Troops from advancing their efforts to gain control of the railroads and ultimately gave the founding fathers the freedom to travel to Wheeling, in order to establish separation from Virginia.

 Mr. Gioulis outlined the march and exchange of gunfire by Union soldiers, led by Gen. McClellan and successfully forcing Confederate soldiers, led by Gen. Garnett to flee their stronghold at this strategic camp. The result of this battle declared the pivotal direction of the war, leading to the development of the state of West Virginia, as it is known today.

 Proponents for the nomination who voiced their support and endorsement to the commissioners were Lynne Snyder of the Laurel Hill Foundation and Phyllis Baxter of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, (who also read a letter sent by Hunter Lesser, Elkins)*. Both spokespeople have a long relationship in the perpetuation of Civil War history at their respective Battlefields. Ms. Baxter is a pioneer for the Rich Mountain Battlefield, Assoc. the extension to the Tygart Valley Campaign leading from Laurel Hill and continuing on to Corrick’s Ford. Ms. Snyder read a statement by Col. Robert Pollock, a new resident to the Battlefield, and excerpts from a letter by Leah Richards, a longtime resident of Barbour County.**

 One opposing voice, Tim Ferguson of Belington, stated objections to the interference to business development in Belington (Industrial Park) if historic growth is encouraged and historic registry takes place. He also made charges alluding to inadequate notification of the proposed nomination. Mr. Ferguson stated there had been approximately 60 percent of the property owners signatures obtained. However, he noted that they were not all occupants of the proposed historic district.

 Some of the signers stated they were told that they could not do what they wanted to with their property if the nomination was passed and that no improvements or renovations could take place without the approval of the Historic Preservation Office. The dwellings on the Laurel Hill Battlefield district are not of the Civil War historic period and are not considered contributing factors to the designated scope.

  The following announces what the National Historic Registry does and does not do:

 What the National Register does:

  •  PROVIDES recognition of a property's significance in history, architecture, archaeology or engineering.
  •  PROVIDES limited protection when a property is endangered by a state or federally funded or licensed action.
  •  PROVIDES the owner of income producing property (commercial or rental residential) the opportunity to receive Investment Tax Credit for "Certified Rehabilitation."
  •  PROVIDES the owner of a private residence with the opportunity to apply for a Homeowners Tax Credit on state taxes, if a rehabilitation is certified.
  •  PROVIDES the owner the opportunity to apply for matching grants-in-aid for restoration/rehabilitation (when funding is available).


What the National Register does not do:

  •  DOES NOT restrict the use of the property. (For example, an owner can continue to live in a listed house; convert a listed property to another use, continue to farm ground where a listed archaeological site may be located, conduct new construction on the site, etc.).
  •  DOES NOT restrict the sale of a property; unless under the jurisdiction of a state or federal agency.
  •  DOES NOT require continued maintenance of private property.
  •  DOES NOT require that any specific guidelines be followed in a rehabilitation (unless the owner is using state or federal funds or receiving an Investment Tax Credit).
  •  DOES NOT require the owner to give tours of the property or open it to the public.
  •  DOES NOT guarantee funds for restoration.
  •  DOES NOT guarantee perpetual maintenance of the property.
  •  DOES NOT provide a historic marker for the property.

 (Source: )

 The challenges by Ferguson were all met with a categorical response by

 Erin Riebe, National Register and Architectural Survey Coordinator
 State Historic Preservation Office
 WV Division of Culture and History

 Ms. Riebe will personally respond to all mail contacts and has asked that anyone who would like to have clarification of the meaning of the placement on the National Historic Registry to contact her at the above number.

  UPDATE: The “Keeper”, in Washington DC has requested additional information and the determination is still pending as of Jan. 2009

  * Some text added after original publication

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