CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Beckley building that is on the National Register of Historic Places will be demolished soon and replaced with a McDonald's.
The Beckley Feed and Hardware building was built in 1935 and added to the National Register in 2001, the first year it was eligible. The business closed in June, as the building was slated to be sold to Paramount Development Corp., a real estate developer with offices in Beckley, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Richmond, Va.
"The business was doing fine, and it was a successful business," said Austin Caperton, who has owned Beckley Feed and Hardware since 1998, "but I'm 62 years old, and somebody offered some money and I decided to move on."
Being added to the National Register is largely an honorary designation.
"Its main goal is to bring about a better appreciation for historic properties," said Paul Lusignan, a historian with the National Register. "There is no requirement under federal law that those buildings be preserved or protected."
When a building is added to the National Register, which is administered by the National Park Service, its owners are able to access certain state and federal grants and tax credits. If they use any of these funds, then there are restrictions to changing the building. Caperton never did, so he, and Paramount, are free to change the property as they wish.
The Beckley Code Enforcement Department approved the demolition and site plans on Oct. 1.
To be placed on the National Register, a building or site must be "significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering or culture." Nationally, there are about 87,000 listings in the Register, all of which were approved by a state review board. There are 1,041 listings in West Virginia, eight of which are in Raleigh County.
Twenty-four historic places in West Virginia have been demolished since 1972, according to a database compiled by the state Division of Culture and History.
Those include buildings like the Pocahontas Fuel Company Store in McDowell County, the Morgan County Courthouse, Parkersburg City Hall and the West Virginia Colored Children's Home, near Huntington.
Like most of the buildings on the list, nationally and in West Virginia, Beckley Feed and Hardware has a fascinating history.
The following information comes from Beckley Feed and Hardware's application, written in 2000, to be on the National Register:
The company began in 1926, but moved to its current location, on Prince Street, in 1935. A new wing was added to the building in 1951. As the name implies, they sold hardware and farming supplies, but in an age before refrigeration, they also delivered ice to homes and businesses throughout the city.