Monday, May 25, 2015

The Stone Work Of Calhoun County, West Virginia (w/pics and link)

My first acquaintance with the stonework in Calhoun County was 36 years ago when I drove a feed truck around the area on deliveries. The house beside the main store in Big Bend was of excellent stonework, unusual in our local area. The store owner at that time told me that the store owner during the depression provided room and board for a gang of Italian WPA stonemasons in exchange for them building him a stone house. The story made sense, so I never questioned it. Below is the house today.

Click photos to enlarge.

I really didn't pay so much attention to the other stonework in the countyb at the time, though I knew it was there. Recently, though, I've been hauling limestone and blacktop through the area, and it's piqued my interest in the quality and quantity of such work in the county. For instance, there's the grade school in Grantsville.

Notice the stone walls in the four photos, also. There's quite a bit of such work in the town. Notice the stone garage in the next photo; there are four in town, I think; I suspect there may have been more at one time.

Here's a photo of the back of their courthouse and jail, though prisoners are no longer kept in the jail. I didn't get a shot of the front, but found one online.

Here's the one of the front from online. I brightened it considerably to make things plainer to see.

Here's another example of the area stonework found online, it's of the old high school, no longer in use. Both it and the grade school are now boarded up.

A few miles away, near Millstone, also in Calhoun County, a DOH garage shows the same quality stonework as many other buildings in the county. (Taken through a wet windsheild in the rain.)

 All this time, I'd been thinking that this was all possibly done by a group of Italian immigrants working for the WPA, and that could be partially true, but the main story, I discoverd almost by accident in an old article at The Hur Herald. Please take a look:

I hope they find a way to save this part of their heritage. If these buildings were in Parkersburg, They'd likely have been torn down years ago. © 2015


Crystal Mary said...

Stonework certainly does have character.. many of the new styles today have none..I would lice to look inside that first house, I wonder it their was more exposed brick interior walls. Italians are very good at work like this.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

There were true craftsmen (and women) back then.

Gorges Smythe said...

In this area, Crystal, I'd be tempted to expect either plaster or real wood paneling.

Agreed, Jerry.

Tatersmama said...

That house is simply beautiful... and oh, how I would love to see the interior as well!

Gail said...

I love stonework and history so this was the perfect post to read.

Gorges Smythe said...

I suspect that we ALL would, Tm.

Glad you enjoyed it, Gail.

Chickenmom said...

Beautiful photos, Gorges! There is something so special about stone; it is not 'cold'. There is beauty in the way it is cut and shaped. Great post!

Gorges Smythe said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Cm.

Brian said...

Nice to see..
My maternal family were mostly masons and builders back in the day..
With their work still on display housing families hundreds of years on...
Stone is timeless and has a beauty all of it's own...;b

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

These are beautiful stone structures! If we could only afford to have such building today rather than all the modern ones. We have a few stone houses in Pacific that were maybe Sears homes? The railroads delivered the materials and people constructed them on their property. I'm sure where they are, they have been neglected but if they were restored, the outside still looks great.

Gorges Smythe said...

I agree, Brian.