POINT PLEASANT — Historic preservation was a topic at the most recent meeting of Point Pleasant City Council, though it was met with mixed reactions.
Rachel Proffitt, of the historic landmark commission, addressed council about the importance of maintaining the city’s historic district and how she felt that district helps promote tourism and business development.
Proffitt said Peoples Bank had offered to “gift” the building behind the Main Street Branch next to the old drive-thru and part of the parking lot, to the city. The building was reportedly the home of the practice of Henry J. Fisher, one of the best known attorneys in this section of the state in the 1800s.
Also at the meeting was Charles Humphreys, director of Main Street Point Pleasant which has agreed to take on the rehabilitation of the property as it has done for the Kisar Home, owned by the city. Though the Fisher building and lot would also be owned by the city, Main Street would pursue grants to upgrade the property, including a new roof, fixing the foundation, likely brick work, interior work, including electrical. The thought is, the building could be rehabbed enough to become a focal point at the flood wall, to direct visitors to tourist locations and also sell tram ticket for tours of downtown, eventually. Proffitt specifically cited a West Virginia Division of Culture and History grant which the project may qualify for to assist with the work. She also spoke about the historic landmark commission being in favor of the project and fund raisers which could assist.
“Investment in historic districts just keeps on giving,” she said.
Kyle McCausland, who lives in Southern Mason County and who purchased the lots the Franklin Building sat on along Main Street, was also in support of acquiring the building.
“Your future is based on your history,” he said, cautioning against losing any more buildings. “It’s an investment in your town.”
Also in support of the idea was Councilwoman Jerrie Howard, who made the motion to vote on accepting the property.
Mayor Brian Billings said the city had no money or manpower to offer on this project and felt the building was “in bad shape.” Billings also expressed concerns about the availability of funds to rehab the property and what would happen if that didn’t happen, citing the Franklin Building on Main Street which the city later demolished on its own dime.
“I’m worried we’ll get stuck with another dilapidated property if the grants fall through,” Billings said.
Billings further explained, though he wasn’t against the idea, he felt more information was needed concerning the insurance which would be required by the city to carry on the property and he wanted to hear from a representative from Peoples Bank about the offer. Councilwoman Janet Hartley agreed the idea had potential but she needed more information on the details.
Though the motion was seconded for a vote, Howard withdrew her motion to table it for the next meeting, to gather more information.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]