By Andrea Moorehead
ITMANN, W.Va. – For years, a piece of history has sat vacant in a little coal mining community. Recently acquired by Foxfire Realty, the stone-built store and office complex that was used for coal miners and their families will be receiving a lot of attention in the month of October.
The Itmann Company Store is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and was designed and built by Alex B. Mahood for named for Isaac T. Mann, president of the Bank of Bramwell and an officer and principal shareholder in Pocahontas Fuel. The company town of Itmann was built in 1916 and began mining the Pocahontas No. 3 seam along the Guyandotte River in Wyoming County in 1917.
The The Itmann Company Store was the center of the community for many years and used to house a post office, furniture store, clothing store and mining offices, just to name a few. In the latter years, one side of it housed a homeless shelter, according to an article on e-WV site, www.wvencyclopedia.org.
There were over 250 in attendance at the event and traveled from as far as South Carolina to join in the fun.
During the question and answer session, several community members stated they are excited to see changes coming to the community and are hopeful that the Itmann Company Store can be restored and used to benefit the community and out of state visitors. David Sibray, Foxfire Realty stated that there are grants and funding available that can be applied for to restore this building.
Patrick Corcoran, Historian, spoke about Alex Mahood at the beginning of his presentation stating that “Mahood, was born in 1888 in Lynchburg and died in 1970. Mahood and his mother were both educated in Paris. He was educated in architecture while his mother was educated as a painter and sculptor, so it was kind of a family tradition. I have studied Mahood for over 20 years and really in depth the last 10 years. The more I study him, the more that I see and believe he was an artist first and architect second. He paid very close attention to detail. He designed The Itmann Company store in the early 1920’s. When the building was being built, immigrants were hired to come in and construct the stone structure from the mountain side across the river.”
There has been a lot of chatter lately reminiscing about the historical building and growing up in the Itmann community. One former resident stated, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were investors looking to restore this architectural jewel to its one time grandeur. I have many memories growing up as a kid in Itmann. I would go to “The Company Store” for pop and candy.”
Charlotte Echols, who is a current member of the community, recalled her memories growing up in a once thriving coal town.
“This is wonderful that someone would think enough of this piece of history to want to try and bring something back into the community. I can stand on my front porch and see the store. I grew up in Itmann since I was 6 months old, I am now 63. It is exciting to know something good is happening in that beautiful building,” said Echols. “I can close my eyes and see that building when it was in-service. I remember where things were and stores were located. The enjoyment I had walking to the company store after school everyday, which was just up the road beside the church, to look around or to get a pop, walk through the tunnel to the post office. It was good times, very good times that I will always remember.”
David Sibray, Foxfire Realty and a preservation consultant stated in an article in wvexplorer.com, “The possibilities for the development of this building are better than ever. ATV trails, improving internet capacity, and the Coalfield Expressway – all point to a new potential for Wyoming County and this incredible building.”
The Wyoming County Historical Society and Foxfire Realty Open House was held on October 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and featured guest historian speakers Patrick Corcoran who spoke on Architecture and Aaron Parsons from the WV Archives. Guests were allowed to tour the building, meet and greets with current and former residence and this event was free to the public.
As a reminder, on October 30th event hosted by Haunted Beckley and Charleston Ghost Tour Company will host a “Historic Ghost Hunt and Tour” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. there will be a Paranormal Investigation.
For more information about this event visit CharlestonGhostTourCompany.com or by calling 304-228-1851 as space will be limited.
Itmann is a 35 minute drive from I-77 in Beckley via WV – 121, the Coalfield Expressway.