The Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission and the Randolph County Senior Center are working together to record a people’s history of Elkins.
The Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission (EHLC) is looking for participants for its “Living Landmarks” project. The EHLC would like to begin collecting and recording the stories of what makes our historic environment – our buildings, our streetscape, our neighborhoods – matter. These spaces and places provide the backdrop for the lives and memories of Elkins residents across generations. These stories are more fragile and fleeting than our historic structures, and just as worth saving.
The EHLC is partnering with the Randolph County Senior Center (RCSC) to ask Elkins residents to share their memories of the places, events, and people that have shaped their experiences of life in Elkins. “The RCSC is very excited to work with the EHLC. In my time with the RCSC I have heard so many colorful stories of life in Elkins, and we hope this initiative will allow these stories to be rediscovered by the wider Elkins community.” – Laura Ward, RCSC.
If you have a story to share of a personal experience that is quintessentially “Elkins,” big or small, EHLC would like to hear from you. “By collecting these personal narratives we hope to find the common threads that unite Elkins residents across generations” reports EHLC Commissioner and Elkins native Lisa Armstrong.
Armstrong explains, “I remember my dad, Gerald Armstrong, telling me about his role in the very first Forest Festival. He dressed as a ‘wood nymph’ and rode a float. He also met President Ford. He told me that as Ford exited his limo, he stretched out his hand to Dad and said, ‘my name is Gerald’ and my dad said, ‘so is mine.’ These are the things that make life in Elkins special — the people and their stories. We will accept stories from anyone, but we feel this is a great opportunity to partner with the Senior Center and collect stories from our Living Landmarks — the seniors of Elkins.”
The EHLC is planning to make this an on-going series, collecting and sharing stories about what it is like to live in Elkins. “We’re open to collecting any interesting story about life in Elkins,”states Lisa Armstrong. “The first collection we’re focusing on is ‘Forest Festival—The Early Years.’” Additional collections may include “Adventures in the City Park,” “My Memory Jar,” “That Time I went to Wimpy’s,” “Visits from the President of the United States,” “The Flood of ’85,” and “School Days.”
The content will be curated and made available to the public through a collection of temporary and permanent multimedia exhibitions. These will be hosted at the Darden House, the EHLC headquarters. The EHLC also hopes to make the material more widely available. “This could be a promotional tool for the City. Stories are used in marketing to help to create an emotional connection to a thing, idea, or place. By sharing your story, you will help future generations to understand 20th century Elkins, as well as inspiring people to visit and live in our lovely city,” says Armstrong.
Please submit your story using the form online here.
Please indicate if you give us permission to interview you and share your information. Photographs or photocopies you would like to submit can be mailed to: Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, PO Box 1863, Elkins, WV 26241.
EHLC is the Certified Local Government entity that works in cooperation with the City of Elkins and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to identify, preserve, and promote our local stock of historic architecture. To learn more about the organization and to keep up with projects and events, you can visit them online at historicelkins.org and like them on Facebook at facebook.com/elkinshistoriclandmarks.