Home Festival funding West Virginia artist helps restore Barrackville Bridge

West Virginia artist helps restore Barrackville Bridge


BARRACKVILLE, W.Va. (AP) – During his 10 years in Barrackville, Graham Curry has always enjoyed the city’s covered bridge.

“(The bridge) is kind of something that is associated with the city… it reflects the life and vibrancy of the city,” said Curry. “But when you walk past (the bridge) you don’t know it’s in desperate need of repair, but it is.”

A year ago, Curry had no idea the bridge needed repairs and, like many townspeople, wanted to take a photo of the monument, but in his own style.

An expert in both hand-drawn and digital art, Curry designed a poster of what he thought was the logo of a city with the covered bridge as the centerpiece.

Around the same time he was creating his poster, he found a Facebook group dedicated to the preservation of the Covered Bridge – a shot of serendipity that connected Curry to the cause.

“They’re trying to raise money to preserve it, improve it, but also save it,” Curry said. “I contacted the admin of the page and asked a few questions and they invited me to their next meeting, that’s when I presented the poster.”

At the meeting, he met several local promoters who are fighting to raise funds to preserve the bridge, but none is more passionate than Diana Marple.

Marple fought to preserve the 165-year-old structure for the better half of 2021. The Barrackville Bridge holds a special place in his heart.

Last Christmas, Marple and her husband Will decorated the bridge with lights and a tree powered by a donated generator. The lights were only on for a day, but the memory of Marple will last much, much longer.

Her husband passed away in August this year, but she plans to continue lighting the bridge every year.

“This is something that I want to try to continue in his memory,” said Marple. “This bridge means a lot to a lot of people. Some people may take it for granted … but it’s really special to a lot of people.

Curry is a great example of how the Barrackville community came together around the bridge. Marple was stunned by the outpouring of admiration the community began to show once the preservation project began.

“Once you have a community need, you have people with all kinds of talent that come with support,” said Marple. “I knew (Curry) lived on Pike Street but I had never met him before. He came to a meeting … and gave us this fantastic piece of art that he created.

Curry said that this sort of thing is what art is all about. Sharing his work for a cause that means so much to so many people was the least he could do for the project.

“Creating is good … good for the soul, I think. It doesn’t have to be personal, but I tried to find more time to do things that are special to me, ”said Curry. “People come together to take care of these things that are historic for a place. In Barrackville … there is a sense of community that is still alive and well.

As beautiful as Curry’s artwork is, bridge repairs will need a lot more funds than they likely generate. Preliminary estimates put repair costs at less than $ 500,000 – less than expected, but a steep price to pay for a small organization.

Marple has partnered with West Virginia’s Guy Ward, R-White Hall, who is seeking potential public funding for the project. The road to restoration is littered with roadblocks, most notable being that the bridge is still technically owned by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

“(Fundraising) is going slowly, but I think we’ll be able to find funding. I don’t think that’s going to be enough through my tracks, so we’ll probably need some extra funding, ”Ward said. “I think we can get a grant of $ 20,000, we have a good chance of getting that.”

This is not the first time that the Barrackville Bridge has been restored. In the 1990s, the state spent $ 3.5 million to fully restore the bridge, but botched the drying of the large wooden threshold beams that support the structure.

One of the experts who played a key role in this restoration is contributing to the renewed effort. Jon Smith, a timber structural restoration specialist, was involved in the restoration of the Philippi Covered Bridge in the 1990s, Woodburn Hall in Morgantown, and the previous restoration of the Barrackville Bridge.

Smith said there have been many new standards for covered bridge restoration since the 1990s and if the bridge is restored again it will be done well this time around.

“I’ve put together a team of engineer and architect and we have a team of painters and we’re trying to put together a budget price so that we can get the job done for the tenders,” Smith said.

In the covered bridge restoration market, it would be hard to find someone as experienced or passionate as Smith.

“If you ask me if I like my job, it’s basically like asking if I like my wife,” Smith said with a laugh. “I would like to see this bridge repaired. It’s Barrackville … that pretty covered bridge.

The restoration group is working on several plans to raise funds to repair the bridge, including creating a festival to celebrate the structure. Information on upcoming meetings or plans with the bridge is posted on the Preservation Society’s Facebook page, which can be found by searching @SavetheBarrackvilleBridgeAgain on Facebook.

“West Virginia has abandoned cities all over the place, but Barrackville is different and I’m not sure exactly why,” Curry said. “People feel good living here and it brings a natural feeling of taking care of (the city). It’s something that I really admire about the people here.

Over the next few weeks, members of the Barrackville Covered Bridge Preservation Society and Curry will determine the price of the posters, how many will be printed and where they can be purchased to raise money for the project.