Elkins celebrates its history

ELKINS – Downtown Elkins was alive with memories and mementos of historic districts of the town on display, for people to learn about and even purchase, over the weekend.

The Elkins Historic Landmark Commission held a Darden Garden Party at the Darden House on Saturday that featured live music, a guest speaker, food, architectural history, antiques, hanging plants and collectibles.

The event included more than a dozen vendors that were selling historic Elkins items, food and crafts along with live music by the Elm Street Alleycats and a lecture on the history of Elkins by Dr. David Turner, professor of History at Davis & Elkins College.

“We are doing this as a preservation awareness event because May is Preservation Awareness month,” said Phyllis Baxter, president of the EHLC. “There are two organizations here that do architectural salvage, C-HOPE and EHLC.

“When an important building comes down, we fight to save it, but when that fails, we salvage what we can. We want to see these things repurposed, reused and recycled, so to speak.”

Inside the Darden House, the Preservation Library was open to the public. The library features an extensive history on the structures, businesses and homes in the historic districts within the city.

“The library has a narrow focus, but it is very informative and helpful,” said Jeff Smith, AmeriCorps Service Member with the Landmarks Commission.

Historic items for sale at the event included a wide array of architectural pieces from First Ward School and the B. Wees Store, which was located where the Randolph County Health Department now sits.

“The B. Wees Store was a well-built building, it was very sound. It was salvaged in 1998,” Smith said. “We have the front doors, ceiling tiles and interior doors that are all available for sale. The whole point of salvage is to pass things on to people who can use it.”

The monologue, by Turner, was entitled, “A Step Back in Time,” and provided an idea of what it would have been like to live in historic Elkins.

“Elkins is, for the most part, Victorian, with very nice houses. You have a lot of very interesting things to watch in Elkins. It has a very active history,” Turner said. “As a general rule, it has grown and progressed in a manner that is very appealing to the eye. It is a progressive town but it is definitely stamped with the old way of doing


Baxter said she was pleased with the turnout at the event and that it was encouraging to see the amount of interest the community had in the preservation of the city.

“It is encouraging to see so many people who really care about preservation,” Baxter said.

“We have had people who are very interested and have asked some great questions.”

The Darden House Preservation Library is open every Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m., or residents can email the Landmark Commission to set up an appointment at ehlc@historicalelkins.org.