Thanks to everyone who came out to the Annual Meeting last Sunday! We managed to get the outdoor portion of the event in right after a short rain. We send out a warm welcome to Ben Ford, a new addition to the Board of Directors, as well as saying thank you to our retiring Directors Callie Fitzwater, Dan Whitacre, and Jim Stewart.
We were pleased to announce the fruition of one of our older ongoing projects this year, a scholarship fund in memory of Sherry Bosley, who passed away in 2019. She had been a behind the scenes volunteer at PHW for fourteen years. If you received PHW flyers in that period, there’s a good chance she was the one who proofread it, folded the letter, stuffed the envelope, put stamps on it, and made sure it got to the post office. She never sought recognition for her invaluable contributions of time, energy, and labor and was always willing to help with any task.
In August last year, we finalized the selection criteria for the scholarship and set the payout amount at $2,000 a year. PHW is honoring her legacy by supporting a student who exhibits academic excellence, volunteerism without expectation of accolades, and interest in pursuing a career related to historic preservation. We are pleased to announce the first student selected by Handley High School is Lucas Mamana.
Lucas has placed his top picks at Appalachian State University, Shepherd, and WVU for universities and wants to major in History Education. His goal is to become a full-time teacher. Congratulations, Lucas, and may you enjoy much success in your future endeavors!
The other main draw of the event was the dedication of the James and Barbara Laidlaw Amphitheater in the back yard of the Hexagon House. Many of you may know the Laidlaws, but in case you are new to PHW and our shared history, here is the story of how our amphitheater came to be:
Jim Laidlaw was president of PHW 1974-76, the formative years of the Jennings Revolving Fund. He oversaw the negotiations to purchase the first house through the fund – the Simon Lauck House at 311 S. Loudoun St. Barbara Laidlaw served as PHW’s Secretary 1974-75, and a Vice President for PHW twice, once from 1980-82, and again from 1992-96. Both Jim and Barbara remained active with PHW affairs even after their time on the board, such as the Holiday House Tour, the Jennings Revolving Fund, and the Kurtz Cultural Center. In 2003, both Jim and Barbara were nominated to PHW’s Honorary Council to recognize the longstanding commitment they shared with the organization.
When Jim passed away in July 2021, we were honored to be one of the organizations named to receive contributions in his memory. Along with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, PHW was always near and dear to his heart. We did not know exactly what we would do with the funds, but we hoped to continue this partnership with the MSV to collaborate on a project in his memory.
After much discussion, we had several ideas for exterior improvements to the Hexagon House. While the Hexagon House is PHW office space, it is also owned by the MSV, so it was a natural way to collaborate with the two organizations closest to the Laidlaws’ hearts. The PHW board came up with a list of ideas, which we then shared with Dana Hand Evans, Perry Mathewes, and Barbara Laidlaw to see what might be possible. PHW had been using the back porch as an impromptu amphitheater for some time. The memorial funds allowed us to level off a small patch of ground and add a retaining wall for built-in seating. With the design of the MSV and the work of Reading Landscape, we now have an outdoor space suitable for events. We welcome you all to enjoy this space, and we encourage you to recall the generosity of the Laidlaws to Winchester as a whole when you visit.
PHW was then pleased to present our annual Preservation Awards and turn the floor over to the people doing the hands-on work of preservation. This year, we recognized ten projects in Winchester and Frederick County:
Awards of Merit:
These awards recognize renovations of houses or buildings that contribute to improving the character of their neighborhoods and maintaining the overall historic fabric of the city.
Winchester Public Schools, Old Frederick Douglas School, 598 N. Kent St.: Winchester Public Schools has been working to convert the building to its administrative headquarters since 2016. The oldest parts of the school were adapted, while some selective demolition allowed for a building expansion to take place. A museum honoring the history of the Black community will be opening soon in part of the building. Howard Shockey & Sons was the project’s general contractor, with design by CJMW Architecture of Lynchburg.
The Clowser Foundation: The Clowser Foundation has continued their work preserving the historic Clowser House in Shawneeland with a roof replacement project, probably the largest improvement to the house since work began in 2017.
Randy Sprouse, 115 E. Cecil St.: This is a log house that may have been moved to or reconstructed on Cecil Street in the 1880s – its exact origins are not known, but the first people to live in the structure at its Cecil Street location were Robert and Lydia Henry. The building, which may contain logs once used in the construction of Fort Loudoun, was in disrepair when purchased by Randy Sprouse about two years ago. He has since renovated the structure, retaining the log portion while removing some severely dilapidated additions.
Vibrissa Beer and North Kent Properties, 2 N. Kent: Winchester’s Vibrissa Beer is the second location opened by Tim and Kerry Barnhart. It is located in the former home of the Winchester Star, in the press room additions to the north side of the structure. It boasts a large production brewery, taproom, full service kitchen, indoor/outdoor seating, and an eye-catching mural. Lisa Dallolio, a local architect, was instrumental in the conversion.
Joshua Feltner, 309 N. Kent St.: This row house has been completely renovated on the interior, with new electrical and plumbing systems, modern heating and cooling systems, and an updated kitchen. The original hardwood floors, staircase, windows, and doors were restored to keep a sense of the home’s history. A clawfoot tub, latches, locks, and knobs were all restored and retained. The approximately two year process was documented on Instagram at Va_Lane.
210 South Cameron, LLC, 210 S. Cameron St.: This ca. log cabin retains its visual history on the exterior, but has been modernized inside in a blend of old and new. Now part of the Merchant Suites, the historic home has been subdivided into three apartments for short and long term rent.
Katherine G. Rockwood Award
This award is named in honor of Katherine G. Rockwood. PHW’s past is filled with women who believed in Winchester’s architecture and sought to improve the quality of our historic downtown. Perhaps none did more for PHW in our founding years than Katie Rockwood. Before PHW had an executive director, it had Katie, who worked tirelessly coordinating the original publication of Winchester: Limestone, Sycamores & Architecture, the 1976 architectural survey of Winchester that guided the National Register of Historic Places listing for Winchester’s Historic District, PHW’s targeted areas for the Jennings Revolving Fund, and Board of Architectural Review decisions. Much of the basis of the historic walking tours of Winchester still in use today came from her pen. Schools benefited from her knowledge and enthusiasm for Winchester’s buildings in their teaching curricula. She coordinated countless events and touched countless lives as she moved with grace and dignity through the trials of saving important places for fifteen years.
PHW and Winchester lost Katie at the tragically young age of 44. To help keep her memory alive, a memorial fund was started in 1991. In 1996 PHW named its preservation award for outstanding work on a Jennings Revolving Fund property in her honor.
JMMB Properties, LLC, 609 S. Cameron St.: The Jennings Revolving Fund acquired 601- 609 South Cameron Street in 1981. This building was constructed circa 1860 for Christopher Funk, a bricklayer. The home was successfully restored the first time in the 1980s. Disaster struck in April 2020, when a fire originated in one of the units of this building. In a rarely-taken step, PHW exercised its right of first refusal to repurchase the property when it seemed likely a developer would raze and construct a new building on the lot. PHW then sold the building to the team of Scott Moore and Tommy Beavers who vowed to retain as much of the historic building as they could in the rebuilding process. The Christopher Funk home was partially rebuilt to the rear and the front restored close to its appearance before the fire.
Ben Belchic Award
This award is named in honor of Ben Belchic, a founding member of PHW. He came to Winchester in the midst of the 1930’s depression, teaching 20 students at the one-room schoolhouse at Lamps in Frederick County. Stashing away documents was a passion with Ben, who had the entire archives of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society in the shoe room at the back of the Workingman’s Store before they found a forever home in the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives. Rod Sirbaugh, his brother-in-law, said “The old homes in Winchester and the surrounding area, that was his whole life.”
Ben Belchic was also an active member of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, so the Belchic award recognizes a significant contribution to understanding Winchester’s history. These awards are generally presented for written texts, such as books, maps, National Register nominations, and guided tours.
Shenandoah Valley Batllefields Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum “One Story…A Thousand Voices”: The overhaul of the museum in the Old Frederick County Court House with the new exhibit “One Story…A Thousand Voices” has made the experience of this contentious period in US history more accessible, incorporating three thousand artifacts into an immersive – and currently free for local residents – experience. While covering the major battles and events, it also humanizes the story with more personal, everyday touches of the people who lived through this tumultuous period, the post-war era, and the efforts to preserve that history today. The exhibit design and construction work was undertaken by Riggs Ward, a nationally recognized firm.
In light of Barbara Laidlaw’s outstanding support of PHW, it seems natural to commemorate her work on behalf of PHW with a Patron’s Award. This award recognizes a person or business which has been an outstanding supporter of the goals and programs of PHW.
Lucille Lozier Award
This award is named in honor of Lucille Lozier, a founding member of PHW and president of the organization in 1969. She led PHW during the final year of the fight to save the Conrad House and laid the groundwork for the Historic District and Board of Architectural Review as we currently know it. Much of her work called for championing “antique buildings” and retaining them in an appropriate setting – a holistic approach to save not just an important building but the surrounding that gave it context and the landscaping that enhances its attractiveness. The Lucille Lozier Award is one of our highest honors, awarded for the renovation of a significant structure retaining 75% of the historic architectural fabric.
Jennifer Wolgamott, 202 S. Washington St.: The J. B. Russell House has had a number of significant upgrades, including repairing the slate roof; installing new copper valleys and ridges; rebuilding four brick chimneys; resetting front entry steps; relaying the brick front walkway and installing brick floors at the dirt basement. The historical appearance was improved by removing eight window air conditioning units and installing central air conditioning; upgrading the electric system to include underground service from Cork Street; replacing broken glass panes with restoration glass; restoring the Juliet Balcony and repairing and painting all exterior woodwork. With these critical repairs complete, 202 South Washington will continue to contribute to preserving the unique and irreplaceable resources of the Winchester Historic District.