Section House Restoration Committee

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Committee Members

Chairman – Lynna Mitchell

Councilman Rod Cury

Councilman Joe McCracken

Mac Culbertson

Mark Estepp

Gene Hearl

Martha Hurst

Nancy Jessee Joyce

Mary Lawson

Gaynelle Thompson

Susan Whitt – Town Staff

Sue Wade - Town Staff

Mission Statement

The Town of Richlands Section House Restoration Committee is dedicated to restoring and preserving the historical structure located prominently in the downtown area and to interpreting and sharing the significance of our railroad and coal heritage through education, cultural, and tourism opportunities.

Restoration Project Begins

In May 2011, Richlands Town Council appointed a citizens’ advisory committee to pursue a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation to help preserve and restore the railroad section foreman’s house.
In late July 2011, Norfolk Southern Railway donated the Section House property to the town and the committee was able to proceed with the grant application that was submitted in November.
The project was fully funded with a grant award to help preserve and restore the property.

History

The Section House is an important historic structure prominently located in the historic downtown area of Richlands.
It was built in the 1890s by Norfolk & Western Railroad as the home of the railroad’s section foreman — a key figure who maintained the integrity of track conditions for a 10-20 mile section of the railroad.
The Section House is one of the town’s oldest structures, listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, being recognized by the federal and state governments as a site of historic significance.
The exterior of the Section House retains many original features of the historic property:

• Windows
• Tin Roofing
• Board and Batten Siding

It was built in a style common to most section houses that were constructed by the railroad in the late 1800s.
The Section House is listed as one of two destinations in Richlands on the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail; the other being the official state Coal Miners’ Memorial. The Coal Heritage Trail was developed to highlight the crucial role Southwest Virginia plays in Virginia’s economy, as well as the nation’s economy.
The Section House is unique because it is one of only two surviving such structures listed on the 325-mile trail.

Restoration Project Plans

Plans are underway to utilize the Section House as a welcome/cultural center and public venue that will recognize the significance of the area’s railroad and coal heritage. It will be a place to remember and honor those who have worked in these industries and will serve as an important reminder that we are indebted to those who have gone before us.
Restoration of the house and property will not only ensure the preservation of the historic railroad structure, but will give the town the opportunity to:

• Provide an educational venue to interpret the valuable influence that railroad’s service to the coal industry had on Richlands’ early days and continues today;
• Improve downtown pedestrian connections;
• Improve parking availability;
• Provide additional public community spaces and resources in the downtown area;
• Provide improved tourist opportunities.

The project will include restoration of the house to historic standards, extending the sidewalk, installing a crosswalk, landscaping, street lighting, visitor parking, signage and outdoor event spaces.

Site Plan Design

The Section House Restoration Committee has contracted with Hill Studio of Roanoke to provide architectural and engineering services for the project.

Outdoor Mural

The committee has also contracted with local artist Ellen Elmes to produce a large, outdoor mural that details the historic importance of the railroad and the area’s coal heritage.
It features vignettes of real people who played a role in the railroad heritage of our area.

Heritage Brick Sales

The committee is selling heritage bricks that will be incorporated into the brick patio or walkways. Bricks may be purchased in memory or in honor of someone or simply as a way to show support for the project.

Note Cards

Note cards are also available for sale at Richlands Town Hall that were printed from an original watercolor by artist Sam Reilly, a native of Richlands.