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Demolishing History

West Virginia Headlines

TYLER COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – Built in 1916, the Tyler County Home used to house the poor, sick, and orphaned until the 1950s.

Then over the years, it became a place for several businesses, then ultimately vacant for over a decade. The community pushed for preservation but now it is being demolished, and they are devastated to see it go.

With hopes of what could have been, locals saw it being torn down yesterday.

The locals mentioned that the construction workers even said it was structurally sound and they questioned why it was being demolished.

In 2015, the Tyler County Commission raised the question to the public: what should be done?

So, 11 people formed the Tyler County Restoration Committee, and raised $30,000, from yard and bake sales to dinners, in just 22 months for major repairs.

But it was ultimately halted when the County Commission and Fair Association could not work with the group.

Middlebourne resident of 60 years, Peggy George, told 7News “we were just 11 individuals pulling together to raise money we did not have the ability or the training to even think of what could be put in there we thought that should be a planning committee.”

There were conflicting repair estimates in the millions, and the group says they were willing to do the work and raise the money themselves; their estimates were in the hundreds of thousands.

George added, “it’s not to degrade anybody but the Commissioners had a job to do on maintaining it and the Fair Association had a job maintaining it and it has been failed in the past and we can’t go backwards.”

Yes, there was vandalism and disrepair, but locals say the state was even on board to protect the building.

Ann White, a native of Middlebourne, said “I had put it online and people were all happy we had so many people out there supporting us when we were picketing, we only took a couple of bricks today just to have the memories there. It’s just devastating you know being a part of the community all my life and to see something so special just be torn down like it was nothing it was very, very sad today.”

So they can only guess as to why… George responded with “we’ve asked that question many of times to them, we never got a clear answer.”

From this rubble, a new group has formed, the Tyler Citizens Action Group, and their mission: preservation and economical growth.

UPDATE: Tyler County Commission did respond to our call, and next week 7News will be covering their story on the Tyler County Home.

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