“Matewan’s best days are ahead of us” – WV community looking to the future

BY KENZIE NEW, PRESERVE WV AMERICORPS AND WEST VIRGINIA MINE WARS MUSEUM

This next year is gearing up to be a big one in Matewan. From redevelopment of their Historic Lock Up and City Hall, to an expansion of the Mine Wars Museum, the 100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Matewan, and the purchase and redevelopment of the historic Nenni buildings downtown, many have been hard at work pouring their efforts and passion into this town.

Organizations, residents, and committed community members are in high-gear prepping for May 16, 2020—the official date of the commemoration of the 100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Matewan.

A wide array of individuals and groups are working together to make the Centennial all that it can be. The Matewan Drama Group, organizers at the Historic Jail, West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, Matewan Convention of Visitors Bureau, UMWA Local 1440, and Appalachian Lost and Found Museum are banding together to get the job done, representing the same unifying spirit that union miners had in 1920.

As resident and community organizer David Hatfield puts it, “Matewan’s best days are ahead of us.” There’s a lot of new energy and momentum building up in town.

Folks at Matewan’s Historic Lock-Up and City Hall continue to repurpose a 1908 building in the town’s historic district, just in time for the big day. Community members Francine Jones, Pat Brown, Roddie Swafford, along with Fresh Start and members of the Matewan Methodist Church have worked tirelessly to save the structure, and recently installed a new roof, HVAC, windows and doors, sidewalk, walls, replaced the old stone, and put on a fresh coat of paint. Truly amazing work!

Matewan CVB Director, Juan Joyce, says that he’s “really excited to see people come together to work for a common cause in 2020.” 

In addition to this renovated structure, the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is expanding its interpretive space and moving into a larger location, right across the street in a new multi-use building owned by UMWA Local 1440!

Another set of buildings ripe for renovation are the Nenni buildings that were recently purchased by Coalfield Development. The redeveloped buildings will serve as Coalfield’s southern West Virginia headquarters: allowing them to better serve Mingo and McDowell Counties through social enterprise development and support; personal, professional and academic development; and additional real estate projects.

Claudette Karr with Coalfield Development says about the project:

“What excites me the most is the fact of the building will be mixed use – not only is this benefiting individuals in the community with a higher education certification, it also gives trail riders a space to take breaks and utilize an additional bit of lodging that complements the existing places in town.”

Head on over to Matewan and follow these organizations on Facebook to be a part of this exciting time!

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