D&E awarded historic preservation grant

Davis & Elkins College has received an $89,658 grant from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, Division of Culture and History, to help cover costs of roof restoration at the historic Graceland Inn. College officials are currently working with an architectural firm and anticipate a call for bids in six weeks.

The college’s award is the largest block of funding presented this year to 19 projects involving the restoration and rehabilitation of historic sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places throughout West Virginia. The State Historic Preservation Office of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History administers the development grant program. An outside review panel appointed by the State Historic Preservation Office developed recommendations for the Archives and History Commission, which made the final grant determinations. Funding for the grants program is obtained from West Virginia Legislature appropriations.

The work will include repairs to box and hanging gutters, and replacement of roofing in three locations.

Graceland is the former home of U.S. Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis and is named after his youngest daughter, Grace. Today, the historic structure houses a beautiful inn and restaurant and serves as a unique learning laboratory for hospitality and tourism management majors.

The original construction of Graceland began in 1891. Designed by the famed Baltimore firm of Baldwin & Pennington, the home includes massive towers and bays, large gables, wide porches and wooden-shingled upper stories. Refinements include lavish use of fine hardwood paneling, beams and hand-carved columns, red slate roofing tiles from Vermont, self-storing interior shutters, large stained glass windows and imported Delft tiles that surround the library fireplace.

The West Virginia Presbyterian Education Fund acquired Graceland in 1941 and later presented it to Davis & Elkins College. For 30 years, Graceland was used as a residence hall. It was closed from 1971 until the mid-1990s for restoration. The project was initiated by a group of Elkins Junior High School students who formed the nonprofit organization Graceland Foundation and searched for original articles from the mansion. The full restoration cost approximately $6 million, raised from an expansive list of sources including foundations, state and federal grants, corporate gifts, and many generous individual donors.