FB & Garage, Mount Hope, WV
The Cherokee nation sold their rights to land that included what is now Mount Hope, West Virginia on October 18, 1770 to the Governor of Virginia. Although other tribes staged numerous raids in an attempt to control the land, a decisive victory over the Indians on August 20, 1794 secured peace in the area with a treaty. Once the land was considered safe, people started moving westward into frontier land. William Blake Sr. purchased three thousand acres in 1796 and settled his family there in 1805 becoming the first white settlers on the land that is now Mount Hope.
A highway through the area completed in 1848 stretching from Giles County Court House in Virginia to Fayetteville, West Virginia (at the time still part of Virginia). This highway ran through the modern-day Mount Hope business section and resulted in a stagecoach line. Even with the highway, this area remained remote with little development until settlers began procuring coal from the hillsides in Turkey Knob and Glen Jean in the late 1800s.
Completed in 1873, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company (formerly the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad) westward expansion connected Richmond, Virginia to the Ohio River in Huntington, West Virginia. By the end of the century, coal became the railway's greatest commodity, a large portion of which was produced from mines located in Fayette County. In 1894, the branch line railroad known as the Loup Creek Branch was completed connecting the C&O mainline to Macdonald, West Virginia leading to the opening of four mining operations near Mount Hope. The little farming community of Mount Hope became a boom town with hundreds of citizens moving in to industrialize the area. Mount Hope was incorporated on June 1, 1895 and Main Street developed along the old stagecoach line with several stores and businesses. The coal industry continued to thrive for the next several decades but tragedy struck Mount Hope when a fire on March 24, 1910 destroyed almost every building in town. The town was quickly rebuilt, using brick in lieu of wood for better fire protection.
As the coal industry continued to thrive and the connection of Mount Hope to the Virginian Railway achieved, Mount Hope continued to grow. Warner Town, an area with many homes that grew rapidly after the fire of 1910, was annexed by Mount Hope and, in 1921, the legislature granted a city charter to Mount Hope. Mount Hope became known as "The little city with the big welcome." Mining operations continued to prosper through the 1920s with one-third of all coal being shipped east coming from the Loup Creek Branch. Unfortunately, as with the rest of the country, the Great Depression that began in 1929 hit Mount Hope. Just as the nation was beginning to recover, the country entered World War II. After the war, the coal industry began to decline and by the 1950s approximately one-third of the population had left the area.
The importance of coal declined as train locomotives switched from coal-burning steam to diesel in the late 1950s. The mines around Mount Hope continued to produce some coal through the 1970s but both the demand for coal and the coal remaining that could be removed economically, ceased in the 1980s.
Enforcement responsibilities transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor with the creation of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. Under this legislation, commonly known as the Mine Act, mining fatalities dropped significantly. The Department of Labor named the new agency the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The MSHA is divided into nine major program areas including the Coal Mine Safety and Health. The Coal Mine Safety and Health program conducts mine inspections, investigations, and training programs through ten district offices and forty-one field offices. The Federal Building and Garage contains the offices of District 4 and a field office.
The Federal Building and Garage is located within the Mount Hope Historic District, a fifty-eight-acre mixed-use historic district located in the city of Mount Hope, Fayette County, West Virginia. The historic district contains 170 resources, including commercial and industrial buildings, public and private institutional properties, residential structures, a 1934 twenty-five-unit public housing project, roadways, historic retaining walls, a cemetery and a historic sports facility. Of the 170 resources, 150 were initially considered contributing. Per the General Services Administration, Resource Number 102, Bluestone Road at Stadium Drive, was changed from non-contributing to contributing in 2009. Contributing elements are those which both date from within the period of significance of the district and retain individual integrity, while non-contributing resources are those which post-date the period of significance and/or undergone unsympathetic alteration to the extent that they no longer retain those physical characteristics which define their historic character. The period of significance described I the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form entered into the National Register on August 3, 2007, begins in 1895, the date marking the incorporation of the community, and ends circa 1957, corresponding to the National Register fifty-year guideline. The Federal Office Building and Garage is entered in the Mount Hope Historic District as follows:
102. Bluestone Road at Stadium Drive, governmental
Description: two-story government building, rectangular in shape, with seven-bay facade along the southeast elevation. Fenestration is flat-topped, with awning windows. The main entrance is on the southeast elevation, enframed within a masonry frontispiece. The datestone indicates the building to have been built in 1958, under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Built outside the period of significance.
1 non-contributing building
Although the Mount Hope Historic District is eligible for Criterion A, B and C, the Federal Office Building and Garage would only be eligible under Criterion A if the period of significance is extended to 1958. With respect to Criterion A, the district's significance lies with its association with the industrial heritage of the area, particularly that of the coal industry. The Mount Hope Historic District lies within the National Park Service designated Coal Heritage Area. The New River Gorge National Historic Resource Study of 2004 defines three historic periods of coal production within the period of significance of the Coal Heritage Area: Industrialization, 1873-1902, Prosperity, 1902-1925, and Decline, 1925-1960. Although the development of Mount Hope is tied to the end of the Industrialization period and continued through the remaining period of significance of the Coal Heritage Area, The Federal Office Building and Garage was constructed near the end of the Decline period.
The setting and site at the Federal Building and Garage maintain a high level of integrity. The building sits adjacent to residential structures and the Mount Hope Municipal Football Stadium that predate the Federal Building. The physical integrity of the building was altered with a third story addition in 1966. In addition, several small modifications have taken place, including modifications to the laboratory, replacement of the roof, replacement of the boiler system, and installation of bathing facilities. The association of the building to the coal industry remains high as the use of the building is unchanged.