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Carriage Trail, MacFarland-Hubbard House win awards

Chris Dorst
The West Virginia Humanities Council was among a dozen winners of the "We Love Our Community" Award Thursday for its role in preserving the 176-year-old MacFarland-Hubbard House on Kanawha Boulevard.
Chris Dorst Local musician Ron Sowell sings an original song honoring community award winners. He had help from Julie Adams and the Appalachian Children's Chorus.
Chris Dorst Mark Davis (left) of City National Bank and Pat Bond of the Charleston Area Alliance unveil of copy of a banner honoring award winners. Some of the winners stand at right.
Chris Dorst This banner, honoring all 12 winners of the 2012 "We Love Our Community" Awards, will be hung from the city parking garage at Quarrier and Dickinson streets.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A pre-Civil War house, a 100-year-old mule path and a recycled department store were among the honorees Thursday at the annual "We Love Our Community" Awards.

About 200 people crammed into Daniel Boone Room at 405 Capitol St. to see the Charleston Area Alliance recognize a dozen individuals, groups and projects during a 90-minute ceremony and reception.

For the awards this year, area musician Ron Sowell composed an original song, aptly named "We Love Our Community." Sowell and Julie Adams traded off singing brief verses dedicated to each winner, with the Appalachian Children's Chorus chiming in on the chorus.

The West Virginia Humanities Council won the Outstanding Preservation Award, for its efforts in preserving the MacFarland-Hubbard House on Kanawha Boulevard.

"The best way to preserve a historic property is keep it in daily, productive use," council director Ken Sullivan said in a prepared statement, "and that is certainly the case with the MacFarland-Hubbard House. This property works hard every day as state headquarters for the Humanities Council."

Norris Whitteker built the house in 1836 on property he bought from Isaac Noyes, Sullivan said. It's last resident, Elizabeth Hubbard, left the property to First Presbyterian Church when she died in 1997. The council bought it a year later and moved in after extensive renovations in 2000.

BrickStreet Insurance won the Best Re-development Award, for giving an existing structure new life through redesign and refurbishment. BrickStreet spent at least $10 million to gut and rehab the former Montgomery Ward store space at Charleston Town Center, which it bought in 2006. The department store closed in 2001.

The city of Charleston and Friends of the Carriage Trail won the Jeff Miller Sustainable Development Award, for their work in maintaining and improving what used to be called the Sunrise Carriage trail.

The city acquired the trail and the dozen or so surrounding acres in 2003 after a law firm bought the Sunrise mansion at the top of the hill for its offices. Former Gov. William A. MacCorkle built the trail as a means to help mules haul stone and other materials to his house, Sunrise.

Other honorees were:

Taylor Books owner Ann Saville -- the Kanawha Heritage Award for a business or organization that keeps the heritage of the valley alive.

Appalachian Power Park and the city of Charleston -- the Best Development Award, for reusing a former building or site for a new, sustainable use.

The Vandalia Gathering and the W.Va. Division of Culture and History -- the Community Celebration Award for an outstanding community event that celebrates a neighborhood, area or region.

Charleston Chamber Music Society -- the Arts to the Max (Organization) Award for an organization that takes "Arts to the Max" in the community.

David Stern -- the Arts to the Max (Individual) Award for an individual who has contributed time, money, expertise, etc., to taking "Arts to the Max" in our community.

Becky Ceperley -- the James R. Thomas Outstanding Volunteer Award for outstanding volunteer contributions to the Charleston Area Alliance and its programs and projects that impact community development in the Kanawha Valley.

Kristen Hardy -- the Youth Volunteer Award for outstanding community involvement or project by someone 18 years of age or younger.

Ed Maier -- the Do The Charleston Award for someone who goes above and beyond in making Charleston a better place to live, work and play.

Tom Lane, president of the Charleston City Council -- the Servant Leader Award for outstanding leadership in the Kanawha Valley community.

The actual award ceremony was fairly brief because of the musical format. Audience members chuckled or clapped as they recognized the subject of verses, like, "A favorite place to browse and read . . . what would we do without Taylor Books."

Some verses were easier to write than others, Sowell said.

"A couple were hard, like the MacFarland-Hubbard House and BrickStreet, because the information they gave me was a bunch of facts -- dry facts, " he said. "So I took poetic license. The people were the easiest ones. They gave personal information."

In a couple of weeks, the Alliance will hang a banner honoring award winners on the city parking garage at Quarrier and Dickinson streets, replacing the one from last year. A poster of the new banner was unveiled Thursday, and each winner received a copy.

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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