Exhibit questions West Virginia statehood

A traveling historical exhibit has made its final stop in Philippi at the Philippi Heart and Hand Ministries’ Community Garden Market.

With it comes the question of whether West Virginia legally became a state and if it should have been dissolved when Virginia was restored to the Union. Everyone in the state government would have had to vote on the separation from Virginia, Reg Trefethen with the Community Garden Market said. The question is, did they?

The exhibit has traveled the state in observance of West Virginia’s 150th year of statehood. Since December 2012, it has been featured in Oak Hill, New Martinsville, Athens, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Alderson, Paden City, Grantsville, Bluefield, Elizabeth, Rowlesburg, Lewisburg, Morgantown, Wellsburg, New Cumberland, Berkeley Springs and now, Philippi.

“We’ve been lucky to get this,” Trefethen said.

Philippi played a crucial role in the Civil War as the location of the first land battle. The exhibit commemorates Philippi’s role in the war and outlines various other points of history as well.

It consists of three kiosks and reviews the constitutional questions that have arisen regarding the statehood process. Viewers can even interact with the display by voting on whether they believe West Virginia’s statehood is or is not constitutional.

Trefethen said the exhibit has been a big hit since its opening on Nov. 18.

“I’m surprised by how many people walk right back here and look at it right away,” Trefethen said. “It’s been a draw.”

The Humanities Council involved students in the exhibit design. It is the work of 16 West Virginia University students who designed the exhibit and brochure as a class project.

The exhibit is on display through Dec. 6 and is called “Born of Rebellion.” Tuesday through Friday, it may be viewed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturdays, it is open from 7 a.m. to noon. The exhibit will be closed Thanksgiving Day. Special hours apply on certain dates. From Nov. 29-30 the exhibit will be open from 7 a.m to noon, and on Dec. 6, it will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Viewers can bring their smartphones and scan the quick response codes to read articles related to the exhibit.

This is not the first time the exhibit has traveled the state. According to a press release , it originally toured West Virginia in 2006, stopping at 23 locations. It also received the Leadership in History Award that year from the American Association for State and Local History.

The exhibit was made possible through support from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.

The current host of the exhibit, the Community Garden Market, also recently celebrated the opening of their business this year with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 16. Trefethen said that more than 60 people attended the event.

The Community Garden Market offers locally grown, raised and processed foods. It also features a cafe, a stage area for special events and freshly made doughnuts in an assortment of flavors.

Contact Melissa Toothman by email at mtoothman@theintermountain.com.