Happy 4th of July!

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

Thomas celebrated American Independence a few days early with the annual Mountaineer Days celebration. Thomas welcomed people from all over to enjoy the July 4th 2017 weekend here. Music filled the air as people poured into the streets to watch the parade, eat funnel cakes and barbecue, browse vendors and open shops, and watch Thomas' legendary fire works. 

New Historic Thomas would like to thank the Thomas Volunteer Fire Department for putting on such an incredible fire works display this year. 

We wish you a happy 4th of July!

People of Thomas: Seth Pitt

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

"I was one of those kids who couldn't draw—or believed I couldn't draw," said Seth Pitt, resident artist, owner and of Creature, and co-owner of The White Room Art Gallery. In the third grade, he didn't draw; rather, he started writing poetry. Seth continued to write poetry in his down time working at a cell phone accessory kiosk.

Then, something seemingly insignificant happened. After years of believing that he couldn't draw, Seth started doodling for self amusement. "Self amusement," he said, "was my approach to making art, and it never really changed." "I started with doodles and then moved to stick men doing particular things with hearts," he said. 

Like with any notable artist, Seth's approach and lack of formal training gave way to the much-loved peculiarities in Seth's artistic style: "I never learned how to draw a face facing you. If you look...they're all facing that way or the other way. Ninety percent are facing away," he said as an example. 

Seth says that he learned how to draw in Thomas after he moved here twelve years ago. Seth Pitt is from a "little tiny, tiny town" from the South Central Michigan cornfields. "I thought I was going to come live here and then move on to another place. That changed really quickly," he said. What Seth loved about Thomas that made him stay was feeling Thomas' strong sense of community.

Seth was here making art along with others in Thomas when they decided to have a community art show in their apartments, hosting strangers who came to look at their art.

After that, the artists, which include Seth, Nathan Baker, Robin Quinlivan, and Sarah Hubbard, decided to rent their storefront and open up The White Room. Seth said they invested less than $150 in the storefront, and they asked friends to show their work there. "It was a horrible business idea at the time—it was just good for us," he said. 

Seth opened up Creature a year ago. He had wanted his own space but was never able to afford it. He then started to ship his art to be sold at galleries around the country in order to afford rent on the storefront. 

"I think all three galleries [on Front Street] are here as mini-museums as much as they are retail spaces," he said. 

"Being an artist in Thomas I believe is building on a tradition of resilience and creativity that I feel has been here since the town existed," he said.  With a community of people living on a mountain for 110 years, he said, of course there has been creative energy here in Thomas. 

Inspired by the hard work and creativity throughout Thomas' history, Seth continues to think about how he can re-invent Creature. 

He now has a greeting card rack, which he'd like to have in other locations around the country, as well as a kid's art area, a button table, and a comfy couch for reading, chatting, and contemplating the universe. 

Check Seth's website to read his bio, browse, and shop his art. 

Thomas BAD Buildings Inventory

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

New Historic Thomas has been working with the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center's BAD Buildings Program to create an inventory of Thomas' brownfield, abandoned, and dilapidated (BAD) buildings. We've finished our inventory and prioritization list, and the BAD Buildings Program has been working diligently to process our information. Why is it so important for Thomas to address its' vacant and dilapidated buildings situation? According to the BAD Buildings Program:

These properties demoralize communities; pose environmental, health, and safety hazards; and provide an attractive nuisance for illegal activities, including drug use. BAD Buildings slow local economic development by reducing available commercial and industrial properties as well as making a community much less attractive to entrepreneurs and developers.

Having a categorized and prioritized inventory of our BAD buildings gives the City as well as other local groups a bigger picture of our blight. Having a list and accompanying map will re-frame our vacant and dilapidated homes and buildings as opportunities for re-use.

Some of the dilapidated and abandoned buildings on our inventory are currently being rehabilitated, and more and more buildings will be removed from our list in the coming years. One prominent example is 172 Spruce, a historic building currently being restored to be used as retail and living space. 

Most people already realize that Thomas has been dealing with a lack of housing stock, which inhibits our City's ability to grow. Many potential residents (and potential employees) are discouraged from moving to Thomas as a result of this. We're starting to see more and more property owners becoming invested in maintaining and restoring their properties. As a result of this, more people will start to see Thomas for what we already know it to be—a great place to live, start a business, and raise a family. 

Take a look at our preliminary BAD Buildings map below:

Mountain Laurel Spanish Camp 2017

Profesora Leah "Liliana" Devine

Profesora Leah "Liliana" Devine

by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

School is out, and many of the kids around Thomas are off to summer camps. Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative's week-long Spanish Camp started Monday, June 19th at the Thomas Education Center.

Teacher and director of the program Leah Devine teaches Spanish with West Virginia Department of Education's Virtual Schools program. This allows her to reach out to rural schools that aren't able to hire a full time Spanish teacher. Leah organized and directed the camp, which had 14 students attending.

While at camp, Leah said "The students were active participants who used Spanish throughout the week and cooked delicious foods!" Students had the opportunity to dance, sing, make art, and cook dishes from around the Spanish-speaking globe while learning beginner-Spanish vocabulary and grammar in an immersion setting. Many of the students arrived never having spoken a word of Spanish, but all the students left with the ability to follow directions and construct basic sentences in Spanish. 

Señora Scaggs with the students

Señora Scaggs with the students

On Tuesday teacher Señora Blanca Scaggs, originally from Venezuela, came from Grafton to teach the children about her home country. She instructed the students various types of Latin dance (with the "hora loca" being the favorite) as well as how to make traditional Venezuelan arepas.

Salsa dancing 

Salsa dancing 

On Friday, students cooked dishes from the week for a big fiesta with all the parents. Parents came to see their children demonstrate the skills they learned from the week through explaining the dishes, their origins, and ingredients en español.

Leah said, "partnering with Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative made for a successful camp! I appreciate all their support and all the families who prioritized Spanish camp for this kids!"

As a Spanish-speaking AmeriCorps volunteer, I had the privilege of helping Leah teach the children, manage the classroom, and cook dishes. I'm so thankful to Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative for giving local children the precious opportunity to learn a second language in such a fun setting. I'm also thankful for Leah, who carefully planned all the activities and brought a car-load of food, supplies, and children from Elkins every day with a smile on her face.

What's Happening In Thomas - July

Meetings
7/10: Thomas Planning Commission meeting – 6:00 pm @ Thomas Ed. Center
7/11: Thomas City Council meeting - 6:30 pm @ Thomas City Hall

Live Music
7/1: Steve Hussey and Jake Eddy- 12:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/1: Micah Scott- 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/1: Aurora Celtic– 3:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
7/1: The Woodshedders- 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/1: Chaga Tea Project – 10:30 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
7/2: Micah Scott- 12:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/2: Steve Hussey and Jake Eddy- 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/2: Pierce Edens - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/3: Steve Hussey and Jake Eddy 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/3: Gracie Curran and the High Falutin’ Band- 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/4: Gracie Curran and the High Falutin’ Band- 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/5: Alash – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/6: The Maggie Valley Band – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/7: Missy Raines and the New Hip - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/8: Jeremy Rodgers – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/8: Donna Frost – 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/8: Skyler & Shane– 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co. 
7/8: The Big Takeover– 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/9: Jeremy Rodgers- 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/9: Donna Frost – 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/9: Steel City Rovers - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/10: The Howlin’ Brothers - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/12: Highbeams – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/13: The Harmaleighs – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/14: NewTown – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/15: Davis Bradley – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/15: Buckley– 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/15: Ally Norris – 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
7/15: Driftwood– 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/16: Davis Bradley – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/16: Buckley– 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/16: Airpark – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/17: A Memphis Revue with the Amy Black Band – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/19: 5j Barrow – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/21: Zach Deputy– 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/22: Cedric Rogers– 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/22: Trevor Reichman – 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
7/23: Cedric Rogers – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/23: Shawn Taylor- 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/23: Herd of Main Street – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/26: Strong Water– 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/28: The Steel Wheels- 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/29: DePollo Brothers- 12:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/29: Hoot and Holler – 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/29: Annie Neeley- 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
7/29: Banditos- 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/30: Hoot and Holler- 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/30: Shawan and the Wonton- 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
7/30: Slow Creek- 7:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle

Check out Purple Fiddle and Mountain State Brewing Co. online for times and more details.

Other Happenings
6/30-7/2: Mountaineer Days

Regular Happenings

Stop for lunch at Tip Top for Mediterranean Monday with both delicious meat and vegetarian options. Mediterranean Monday will take place from 11 am – 2 pm.

Check out Tip Top's Burger Night every Friday evening starting at 6 pm and Sunday Brunch weekly from 10 am-2 pm.

Community Mountain Yoga every Wednesday at 6 pm in the Thomas Education Center. Donations encouraged! Check blog for updates. 

Purple Fiddle hosts an Open Mic Night every second Tuesday of the month starting at 8 pm.

To submit events for next month’s newsletter, email details to mail@newhistoricthomas.com by the 25th of the current month.

 

Get Ready for Mountaineer Days!

Ready to celebrate the 4th of July in Thomas? Mountaineer days is this weekend, June 30th-July 2nd! We'll be celebrating with a parade, music, good food, and fireworks! Check out the schedule below for more details. 

Remember that Front Street will be parallel parking only with more parking available on the rail grade and Spruce Street. Make sure to leash up your dogs or leave them at home. Have fun and enjoy Thomas!

What's Happening in Thomas - June

Service Opportunity - 6/18: Trail Work - 10 a.m. @ Thomas City Park Pavilion

Meetings
6/12: Thomas Planning Commission meeting – 6:30 pm @ Thomas Ed. Center
6/13: Thomas City Council meeting - 6:30 pm @ Thomas City Hall
Live Music
6/2: Gangstagrass – 9:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/3: Davey O. – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/3: Andy Ferrell- 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/3: Sugarfoot Stompers- 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
6/3: Tyrone Cotton Trio - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/4: Davey O.- 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/7: Erica Russo and the Good Sport - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/8: Ragbirds - 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/9: Beau + Luci – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/10: Charles Godwin – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/10: The Terah Crawford Band - 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
6/10: Cordovas – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/11: Charles Godwin – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/11: Hambone Wilson – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/12: Roots of Rebellion – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/14: Erica Russo and the Good Sport- 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/15: Staying for the Weekend – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/16: Bastard Bearded Irishmen - 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/17: Ryan Zimmerman - 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/17: Local Motive – 6:00 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
6/17: The Chaga Tea Project – 8:30 pm @ Mountain State Brewing Co.
6/18: Ryan Zimmerman – 1:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/18: The Gage Brothers – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/19: Bella’s Bartok – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/20: West King String Band – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/21: Erica Russo and the Good Sport – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/22: Guy Marshall Band – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/23: Kelly McFarling and John Elliott (with band) – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/24: Elle Carpenter – 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/24: Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/25: Elle Carpenter – 3:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/25: Damn Tall Buildings – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/26: Andy Mowatt’s Steely Jam – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/27: Fireside Collective – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/28: Erica Russo and the Good Sport – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/29: Woodsheep – 8:00 pm @ Purple Fiddle
6/30: Black Masala – 8:30 pm @ Purple Fiddle

Check out Purple Fiddle and Mountain State Brewing Co. online for times and more details.

Other Happenings
6/12-6:15: MLLC's Summer Science Camp – 8:30 am-12:00 pm @ Canaan Valley Institute
6/19-6/23: MLLC's Spanish Immersion Day Camp - 8:30 am-3:00 pm @ Thomas Education Center

Regular Happenings
Stop for lunch at Tip Top for Mediterranean Monday with both delicious meat and vegetarian options. Mediterranean Monday will take place from 11 am – 2 pm.

Check out Tip Top's Burger Night every Friday evening starting at 6 pm and Sunday Brunch weekly from 10 am-2 pm.

Community Mountain Yoga every Wednesday at 6 pm in the Thomas Education Center. Donations encouraged! Check blog for updates. 

Purple Fiddle hosts an Open Mic Night every second Tuesday of the month starting at 8 pm.

To submit events for next month’s newsletter, email details to mail@newhistoricthomas.com by the 25th of the current month.

Thomas Plans for the Future

Thomas Planning Commission has been holding public meetings to develop a Comprehensive Plan for the City of Thomas. The purpose of a Comprehensive Plan according to West Virginia Code Chapter 8A, Article 3 is to "promote the coordinated development of land and improvements," "achieve sound planning in preserving quality of life," "promote health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare," and "promote efficiency and economy during the development process." Thomas Planning Commission is working with the public to set forth Thomas' goals and objectives in this plan. Thomas Planning Commission has been holding monthly public meetings on specific topics such as Public Services that will become sections in the plan. 

At the May meeting, Thomas Planning Commission hosted guests representing the Town of Davis' Planning Commission in the hopes of sharing knowledge and resources since the "twin cities" are both going through the Comprehensive Planning Process.

"We look forward beginning this truly unique, collaborative process involving both the Town of Davis and the City of Thomas that will ensure they both remain healthy and vibrant places to live, work, and play and will help the communities plan responsibly for the future.  We encourage any and all residents and business owners to participate in this inclusive process," says Rob Stull, President of Thomas Planning Commission.

Developing a Comprehensive Plan will be especially beneficial in preparing for the finished construction of Corridor H and the possible development it could bring to the mountain. 

People of Thomas: Mary Mullenax

By Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member

I walked into the Mountain Top Senior Center at lunch time to see Mary Mullenax eating her lunch. She greeted me with a smile and told me about being a "Michigan kid" born in Wyandotte, Michigan. She had a winding road to Thomas, changing schools twenty-seven times as a kid.

When I asked her how she came to Thomas, her eyes lit up as she started talking about her family. Her mother lived in Brooklyn, New York all her life while her father was a "Benbush boy." Margaret was her mother's name. "Margaret means 'pearl'," Mary said as she explained the synchronicity of her parent's meeting: Mary's mother turned 13 on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, while Mary's father was stationed at Pearl Harbor. The two crossed paths years later at a United Service Organizations (USO) dance.  "And here I am," she said.

Mary is the oldest of five children. Her family moved to Florida where her brother Johnny, named after the astronaut John Glenn, was born. After her father became injured in the line of duty, they moved back to Michigan for a time. "We lost everything," Mary said, but her father's cousin found them a home in the Sugarlands in a former church. "Mom wasn't thrilled about it," she said, "it was in the middle of the boonies." She laughed as she remembered her mom going to a neighbor's house to try home-made elderberry wine. It must not have been strained, she said, because her mom came back with purple teeth. 

While living in the Sugarlands, Mary entertained herself with music. She remembers walking down the hill to the Church of the Brethren to pick strawberries and play on the church's piano. Her love of music goes way back. Her grandfather was playing the piano since he was a child and went on to play at the famous Copacabana nightclub in New York. Her mother, who also wanted to go into show business but was told by her father that "that's no life for a lady," taught herself how to play the piano, ukelele, and organ. She passed this love of music down to her children. Mary had her first solo performance when she was 8 or 9 years old when she sang "Running Bear" and played guitar sitting on her brother's Indian blanket at a Boyscout jamboree. "I just remember that I did it and I got through it," she said.

She studied music in at Fairmont State, and after having a child, she went back to Davis and Elkins for a two-year degree in Business. She got a four-year degree, double majoring in Management and Marketing and Communications.  After becoming the first female president of the WCDE college radio station and working at WELK, she got involved in musical theater and volunteered to clean up the old Sutton Theater, now known as Cottrill's Opera House. Mary was part of the original board that got the building on the Historic Register. She even came up with the group's name: Alpine Heritage Preservation, Incorporated. "Our dream was to have a resident theater company and bring other artists in." The group was able to get a structural assessment done, which is why the Opera House is stabilized today, but there was "always something wrong with the building," she said, and it's "forty years later and not operating." 

In 1999, Mary became unable to work after having severe pain in her arm. "It took months and months to get a diagnosis," and she never recovered the way she thought. Not being able to continue working, Cortland Acres offered to take her in and help her recover. Mary said "the place I am physically is probably the last place I would've chosen, but it's okay. You make the best of what you have." She said "you have to get creative," just like her grandmother, who could "make a meal out of nothing." Mary excels at creativity, whether she's singing or acting. Mary always has a smile on her face and music in her voice as she keeps pushing forward and making the best of everything. 

Public Art Unveiling: Artists and Designs Revealed

By Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps

Pictured: Dominic Piacentini (AFHA AmeriCorps) and Emily Wilson-Hauger (New Historic Thomas)

Pictured: Dominic Piacentini (AFHA AmeriCorps) and Emily Wilson-Hauger (New Historic Thomas)

The last day of ArtSpring 2017 marked an exciting announcement at Cottrill's Opera House. AmeriCorps Member, Dominic Piacentini, in partnership with New Historic Thomas, Woodlands Development Group, Tucker County Cultural District Authority, and of course, ArtSpring, arranged a Call for Artists to bring public art to Thomas. A committee of dedicated community members unanimously selected two winners, both Thomas locals: Nellie Rose Davis and Nathan Baker. 

Guests enjoyed refreshments from Mountain State Brewing Company and crowded around as both artists talked about their designs.

Nellie expressed her gratitude and talked about her project, which will be a mural done in the style of her hand-painted textiles. What excited the selection committee about this project was Nellie's intention of using this colorful design to draw attention to the vibrant and thriving businesses of Front Street.

Nathan Baker discussed his design, which will be a 10-foot-tall installation that will have wisteria growing from the middle and wrapping around the piece. The selection committee loved the idea of having an interactive and living art installation that would encourage its observers to stop and reflect.

AmeriCorps Dominic Piacentini said, "It's been a really great opportunity to be a part of this process, working alongside New Historic Thomas and their partners to make Thomas even more beautiful and inviting. Nellie and Nathan both do fantastic work, and I can't wait to see their projects begin to take shape in Thomas!"

Both artists will be starting on their installations this summer to be completed within the year. New Historic Thomas is proud to support these two local artists, and we look forward to seeing their pieces in Thomas for years to come.

E. May announcing the winners

E. May announcing the winners

Pictured: Nellie Rose

Pictured: Nellie Rose

Pictured: Nathan Baker

Pictured: Nathan Baker