Next Meeting: Apr 16, 2014
The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission operates under the authority granted to landmarks commissions by the West Virginia legislature. Its primary mission is to preserve historic structures within the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County, West Virginia, and to educate persons about the county's heritage. As a branch of Jefferson County government, the Landmarks Commission focuses on heritage education, historic preservation, historic resource development, and research.
Jefferson County was established on October 26, 1801 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. It was named after Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. Located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Jefferson is the easternmost county in the state, being bounded by the Potomac River and Maryland on the north, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Loudoun County, Virginia, on the east, Clarke County, Virginia, on the south, and Opecquon Creek and Berkeley County, West Virginia, on the West. The county occupies 212.41 square miles, being 24 miles from north to south and 12 miles from east to west.
CEMENT MILL PROPERTY
The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (JCHLC) made further progress in protecting the area along the Potomac River where Union and Confederate troops clashed in the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown, which occurred on September 19 and 20, two days after the Battle of Antietam. On September 25, 2013, the JCHLC signed a conservation easement with the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle restricting the use of the 14-acre Shepherdstown Cement Mill property. The Cement Mill property was purchased for $375,000 by the JCHLC in 2011 with funds garnered by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc., the Civil War Trust, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Inc. and a final contribution from the office of West Virginia Governor Earl Tomblin.
Historians consider the Battle of Shepherdstown significant because it resulted in the preliminary issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The battle persuaded Confederate General Robert E. Lee against further incursions into Maryland that year. Lee’s Maryland Campaign of 1862 met none of his goals and his defeat and retreat after the Battle of Shepherdstown, importantly gave the Union Army a military victory that President Abraham Lincoln considered necessary for the release of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The conservation easement prohibits construction of any new structures or addition of any more impervious surfaces on the property. It provides that the existing structures, dating from when it was a cement mill in the 19th century, be maintained providing that it is done in accordance with Department of the Interior Historic Preservation Standards.
The Land Trust already holds conservation easements uphill (south) from the Cement Mill property, protecting key portions of the core battlefield. While the easements do not provide for public access, one of the landowners permits the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association to conduct a tour each year on the anniversary of the battle.
Both the Historic Landmarks Commission and Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, hope the easement will be a temporary arrangement pending donation of the Cement Mill property to the National Park Service.
JEFFERSON COUNTY HISTORIC LANDMARK DESTROYED BY FIRE
Thursday November 15th the Billmyer-McQuilken Farm (Rock Spring) on Route 45 west of Shepherdstown burned. Rock Spring was recognized as a Jefferson County Landmark in 2008. The main house, built in 1831, was one of the county’s finest brick houses of the period. An ornate fanlight surround adorned the entry. The house had unusually developed millwork, including an excellent stair. The decorative porch, slate roof, and the rear ell were added in the late Victorian period.
The Swisser-type, bank barn on the farm was constructed about 1900. It is a well preserved example of the local timber framing techniques. In addition to the bank barn, the farm retains its historic corn crib and other agricultural buildings.
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