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Save Harpers Ferry's Weaver-Gillison House

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Harpers Ferry is on the verge of losing one of its most historic African American homes to demolition this year, but locals are fighting to save this structure as a monument for inspiring and educating future generations.

Harpers Ferry’s widely-known history as “the spark that started the Civil War” overshadows a related and vitally important story. As the town emerged from the war, scarred and deeply divided, the stage was set for what would become Storer College. Along with Howard University, it was one of the first educational institutions above the elementary school level available to African Americans, and across its 70-year history, it fostered an important and vibrant Black community. Today, almost all traces of its deep culture and middle-class success have disappeared.

But for generations during the Storer era, dozens of Black families built and owned homes and businesses in town, including George L. "Buck" Weaver. Weaver led his wife and small children to Harpers Ferry late in the Civil War, seeking refuge and freedom for himself and his family. He was widely known as a founder and leader of the first Black congregation in town, and for risking his life to help the northern missionary founders of Storer College organize local Black residents to stand up for their rights and enable their children to get a complete education. Weaver’s work made him a target of a large and powerful block within the regional white population who were violently opposed to these efforts. Notably, the editor of the main regional paper targeted Weaver directly by name in September of 1867.

The house that George L. Weaver built—the last property of its kind in Harpers Ferry and located less than 100 yards due east from where Town Hall stands today, along the main road into town—is in danger of demolition due to hazardous conditions, stemming in part from theft and vandalism. Since 2021, a handful of locals, including from the Harpers Ferry Historic Landmarks Commission and the Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Historic Town Foundation, have been working with Weaver’s descendants to address the most urgent safety and site condition issues. Actions have included the construction of a cover over a large collapsed cistern, covering and securing exposed openings and entrances, and removing a cloak of dense vegetation from around the home and property.

Now, we are organizing to raise money to find a path toward restoring the Weaver-Gillison house. Our dream is to turn it into a historical monument or museum and share the story of Weaver and his fellow 19th-century Black Harpers Ferryans with the tens of thousands of visitors who pass by this high-visibility site every year.

Your contribution towards our $5,000 goal will provide matching funds to unlock a WV SHPO grant that will pay for an emergency assessment of the Weaver-Gillison house. This critical next step in the preservation process will analyze the building envelope and structural system to help determine the feasibility and prioritization of potential restoration options. It will also provide essential professional documentation of the structure for posterity and possible future reconstruction if it turns out to be beyond salvation.

Thank you for considering the support of this important historical project in its moment of critical need. If we don’t raise the full amount, the project cannot move forward, and the future of the house and the legacy of George L. Weaver will be dim. Your generous donation will make a material difference in saving this important but neglected piece of history.





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Doações 

  • Abby Freimuth
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Marian Stier
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Nancy Cummins
    • $25 
    • 4 mos
  • Henry Thomas
    • $100 
    • 9 mos
  • Norma Coley
    • $100 
    • 9 mos
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Equipe de arrecadação de fundos: Weaver-Gillis Fundraising Team (2)

Innovative Community Solutions
Organizadora
Harpers Ferry, WV
Guy Hammer
Team member

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