Published On: Fri, Feb 14th, 2014

Greenbrier Historical Society receives $15,500 in grants

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Elizabeth McMullen, executive director of the Greenbrier Historical Society, was at the county commission meeting on Tuesday anticipating the approval and signing of three Community Participation grant applications and resolutions. The commissioners approved all three.

The first grant amounting to $5,000 will be used as a Barracks Restoration Project.

The Barracks, located at 200 North Jefferson Street, is one of the earliest buildings in Lewisburg, built sometime after 1787 and before 1807. It is not open to the public while the multi-phased restoration and redevelopment project is underway. The GHS plans to turn the property into a multi-purpose space for the community and will include exhibits, a gift shop, and additional storage for its growing collections.

The second grant of $4,000 will go to improving the North House Museum’s lighting and to upgrade a fence for security and safety measures. Built in 1820, the North House was the home of local lawyer John North and his wife Charlotte for more than a decade before becoming James Frazier’s Star Tavern and Inn. At the turn of the 20th century, the North House became the President’s home for Greenbrier College for Women. The Greenbrier Historical Society has operated within the North House since 1976 and has owned the building since 1992.

The Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion, located approximately nine miles north of Alderson, is the recipient of the third grant for $6,500. It is all that remains of the historic Blue Sulphur Spring Resort. The Pavilion will not be immediately available to visitors because of the need to restore it. The grant will provide a temporary security fence and other improvements to the site.

In 1834, the Blue Sulphur Spring Resort consisted of an elaborate brick hotel, 108 feet long, 50 feet wide, and three stories tall. The hotel had a grand ballroom, dining rooms, and sleeping quarters for guests, who came from as far away as Philadelphia, New Orleans, and even Europe. Beside the main hotel, brick cottages and frame cabins were built for additional guests – increasing the resort’s capacity to as many as 220 individuals.

During the Civil War, troops on both sides used the Blue Sulphur Spring as a campsite. In 1864 Union troops burned, either deliberately or by accident, all that remained of the former Blue Sulphur Spring Resort with one exception – the Greek-style Springhouse.

In other county commission business:

• A request came from the Polar Bear Plunge president Christian Giggenbach, along with the Child and Youth Advocacy Center director Ann Weikle, to borrow the county-owned American flag and the West Virginia flag to officially wave over the 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge event to be held on March 8th at Blue Bend Park.

Giggenbach said the event last year brought 1,300 attendees to witness 131 plungers who dove into the frigid Anthony Creek waters raising $18,000 for CYAC. Giggenbach cited accolades from the WV Senate and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who recognized the Polar Bear Plunge as “a unique WV event.” He said the Southeast Tourism Society has also offered recognition for the event. This year, he said, the Half-Bad

Bluegrass Band and stunt pilot Scott Yoke will add to the entertainment.

The commissioners were invited to plunge in support of the Polar Bear’s altruistic cause. “Plenty of people will come to see that,” Giggenbach exclaimed.

• The county Board of Health has lost one of their members – Blanch Nicely has decided to resign. Commission president Karen Lobban asks that anyone interested in applying for that position to call the county commission’s office. They must be a Republican or an Independent and live in the western end of Greenbrier County to be qualified.