Mitigation for the Demolition of the West Virginia Colored Orphans’ Home
The Board of Education of Cabell County proposed to demolish the National Register of Historic Places-listed West Virginia Colored Orphans’ Home for the construction of a new middle school. The project required consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and other interested consulting parties under the West Virginia Code of State Regulations. CRA assisted the Board of Education throughout the consultation process, resulting in the development of a Memorandum of Agreement to address the demolition of this historic property.
CRA was also hired to complete the wide range of agreed-upon mitigation measures designed to document the significance of the orphans’ homes and shed light on other important places associated with African-American history in Huntington and Cabell County. Projects included HABS-style documentation of the orphans’ home prior to demolition; an oral interview with a former resident of the orphans’ home; development of an interpretive sign and display focused on the history of the orphans’ home for installation in the new school; and development of an interpretive website to share the documented history with Cabell County students and the broader public.
In engaging the varied projects, CRA focused on synthesizing elements of the written record, photographic documentation, and oral history to create a well-rounded, comprehensive, and cohesive account of the Home that places it within its social context. Emphasis was also placed on developing the various interpretive elements so that their content is accessible to broad audiences, from school-age children who attend the school now on the site of the Home to scholars who are interested in the African-American heritage of Cabell County.