LOGAN — Southern Coalition for the ARTS, the non-profit organization that has brought several theatrical productions and the WV Symphony Orchestra to the Coalfield Jamboree stage this year, recently received a grant which will allow them to take the first steps in the long process of restoring the historic Don Chafin Home.
The last house on the left on Main Street in downtown Logan bearing the number 581 has been a mainstay of local history, politics and civics for nearly a century; however, the home, over the years, has began to buckle and bend under the weight of time and the tremendous history it represents.
The home was built sometime around 1900 and was purchased by Don Chafin around 1920. While living at 581 Main Street, Chafin was one of the most powerful men in southern West Virginia. In his early political career, Chafin served in several offices in the Logan County Courthouse before beginning his second, non-contiguous term as Logan County Sheriff in 1921.
Chafin is perhaps most well-known for his role in the Battle of Blair Mountain in August and September of 1921 where he created a private army numbering in the thousands to keep union organizers out of Logan County coal mines.
The home eventually came under the ownership of the Steele family and was later bequeathed to the Woman’s Club of Logan where they operate a library and host an array of social and religious functions. On Feb. 14, 1994, the Chafin Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Recently, Southern Coalition for the ARTS was awarded a grant that will allow them to fix the home’s long-weathered yet still mostly functional roof. On Tuesday Aug. 11, the ARTS hosted their first visit from a historian from a Morgantown architectural firm who will oversee the implementation of the grant.
Joshua Butcher, treasurer for the ARTS explained, “It was a very tedious and competitive grant process, but we made sure that we jumped through all the right hoops. The letter of support that we received from the city and county commission really strengthened our application — so we greatly appreciate them.”
The group plans to use the building as a center of local culture and history. “I see untapped potential for the city and county as a tourist attraction and celebrated local history. We are forever grateful to the Woman’s Club of Logan for running the home as a library and working with us to move into this exciting new phase,” added Joshua Butcher.
The repairs to the roof of the Chafin House are the beginning of a long journey for the ARTS. Eventually, the group hopes to restore some of the home’s former glory on the inside and the outside, but the process of restoring the home will be a long, uphill battle. Jamie Dempsey Butcher, managing director for the ARTS said, “ We need people to realize that this is the first step in a very long process, but we are dedicated to seeing it through to the end. In a few years, the Don Chafin home will be the stately home that it once was and a place for both locals and tourists to visit. We truly cherish this gift from the Woman’s Club and want to do the home justice.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]