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Hancock County museum site of restoration work

LOOKING GOOD — Major exterior improvements have been made since summer to the Hancock County Museum in New Cumberland. -- Contributed

From staff reports

NEW CUMBERLAND — The Hancock County Museum, located at 1008 Ridge Ave., has a fresh look for the fall, thanks to restoration work on the Marshall House, one of the oldest buildings in New Cumberland.

Major exterior improvements recently were completed on the Queen Anne brick building constructed in 1887 — an undertaking that included the front and left side gables, boxed gutters and overhang framing, new freeze panels and corbels and all decorative moldings and trim pieces.

“This is believed to be the first time any major work of this kind has been performed and to this extent,” explained Tom Zielinsky, a member of the museum’s executive committee.

The work was done by R&R Construction Group of Industry, Pa., at a cost of $73,000. Funding was provided by museum money and a grant through the Pugliese Charitable Foundation.

Zielinsky noted grants are the primary source of revenue to sustain the museum’s ongoing efforts to maintain the building’s integrity. There are a number of other fundraising efforts that help offset normal operating expenses. The museum received its largest grant, a $25,000 matching grant from the Pugliese Foundation in 2016 that went toward major roof, gutter and gable renovations.

“We are now in need of additional grant money to complete the remaining gables and roof in the back of the museum,” he noted. “It is estimated the remaining work will exceed $100,000. We need to begin this work soon rather than later.”

Zielinsky said R&R Construction did “an absolutely amazing restoration job” on the building that, as of 2001, became listed on the National Register of Historic Places in West Virginia.

It was built in 1887 by Oliver Sheridan Marshall, a teacher and attorney who served in the West Virginia Legislature for 12 years and as president of the West Virginia Senate for one term. The house was constructed of brick made from local clay and lumber from Marshall’s family farm.

“The first floor features magnificent pocket doors accessing the parlor from both the library and foyer, highlighted by a unique paneled alcove,” he explained. A winding staircase extends three stories to the attic.

Marshall was married twice. He and his first wife, Elizabeth Tarr, were married on Sept. 8, 1880. They were the parents of two children — John and Olive. After her death at age 30 in 1887, Marshall married Nora Virginia Householder on Jan. 6, 1892. They were the parents of three children — Edith, Edmund and Virginia.

Virginia Marshall, the youngest child, and the last Marshall to live in the house, graduated from Randolph Macon College and the University of Pittsburgh. She devoted her life to teaching history and mathematics for the New Cumberland public school system and would continue to live in the Marshall House until her death in 1997.

The house, also known as the McNeil House, was purchased as a residence by Robert and Linda McNeil from New Cumberland around 1999.

The Hancock County Museum Commission, incorporated as of February 2002, operates as a 501 (c) (3) with a board of commissioners who run and operate as an entity under the Hancock County Commission.

The membership consists of 10 appointed commissioners. The commission members are appointed for one year by the Hancock County commissioners with at least two from each of the county’s three districts, Clay, Grant, Butler. The 10 commissioners are the voting members and serve without compensation. Even though the Hancock County Commission is the overseer, the museum runs as a fully autonomous board.

The advisers consist of members who assist the 10 commissioners in all capacity.

The associates, meanwhile, consist of members who express a desire to assist the 10 commissioners as called upon for special projects, according to Zielinsky.

Out of the membership, five officers are nominated and voted on — president, first vice president, second vice president, treasurer and secretary. They serve for one year and can be reappointed.

“We currently have 10 voting commissioners, seven advisers and five associates,” he said.

“We’re always looking for more people who share an interest in preserving history and are willing to help,” he said. “Anyone can come to a regular meeting to view first-hand our process and then decide if they would like to get involved.”

There are no annual dues, and members and commissioners meet the first Thursday of each month, with the exception of January, February and March, and meetings resume in April.

The next meeting is Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m.

There are a variety of events held throughout the year. The Amazing Raise in May, for example, gives people a chance to donate to the museum. A car show/bake sale is held in June. Traditionally, the museum is open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in June, July and August for visitors and is available by appointment by calling (304) 564-4800. These times were canceled this year, however, because of the renovation work.

An “Evening with Edgar” usually occurs close to Halloween, typically toward the end of October. It is sponsored by the Hancock County Arts Council, is open free to the public and comprises reading of the creations of Edgar Allan Poe by Kelsey Hayward, a local teacher. In December, weather permitting, Hayward will read “A Christmas Carol,” as the museum is transformed into Christmas magic with colorful period decorations. The events are free, but donations are always excepted.

Donations can be made by check and sent to the Hancock County Museum, P.O. Box 672, New Cumberland, WV 26047.

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