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Arthurdale Heritage has plans for growth

KINGWOOD — Arthurdale Heritage Inc. is looking to expand by building a $2.5 million mixed use commercial and educational space.

“Our mission in 1934 was community development and it has become historic preservation,” Executive Director Darlene Bolyard said. “We are quickly moving into community development, in order for Arthurdale Heritage to stay relevant. We must help our community — and also, Mrs. Roosevelt would have wanted us to do that.”

The building, which burned down in the 1970s and is being rebuilt, will improve the county’s tax base while acting as an enhanced visitor center with a rental tea room, Bolyard said. 

“We already have somebody interested who has significant experience and a proven track record for that space,” she said.

The middle part of the building will have three professional commercial spaces and there is a dentist interested, Bolyard said. It will also have a weaving room for the weaving program. 

“Weaving is something, or activities like that, if you’re 70 or 7, you get it, you can do it together,” Bolyard said. “And we have more demand and we have teachers and space. It’s phenomenal.”

Bolyard asked the Preston County Commission for $31,300 to complete phase one of the project, which would clear the ruined building and create a usable outdoor space. That space will be rented for weddings and host educational programming. Phase two will add a concrete floor and a roof with phase three bringing walls. 

The nonprofit is also working with a private organization to add a trade school for historic preservation skills such as blacksmithing and stonemasonry, Bolyard said. Welding and electricity would also be on offer.

The space will help Arthurdale become financially independent.

“We won’t have to be begging people for money, we will have our own income,” Bolyard said. “This is our long term strategy, we must become financially self-sufficient. And in doing so we will bring jobs and help people in the area.”

Arthurdale is growing quickly. Recently, Elizabeth Satterfield was hired as curator and director of education. The Independence native said it’s nice to have a full time job in her field so close to home.

Education programming has ramped up, Satterfield said. One program with about 50 kids will be producing a video for a Smithsonian program that will be broadcast nationally at the end of the school year. 

There is also adult programming which includes blacksmithing and Arthurdale is going to start hosting more square dances, she said.

“We’re going to have square dances more often,” Satterfield said. “We had one in the fall and everyone loved it. And Arthurdale used to have square dances every Saturday night. So we’re hoping to, you know, get back to monthly square dances.”

There are also events such as the craft shop with items from more than 40 local artisans.

“We were able to stay afloat financially when a lot of other nonprofits and heritage sites had closed their doors across the country,” Satterfield said.

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