The Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation, Inc.

"An opportunity for the present and the future"


The idea that culminated in formation of the Clarksburg Harrison Cultural foundation in 1972 came from the late Clay Wymer, president and managing director of the Central West Virginia Automobile Club. At that time Mr. Wymer was also serving as chairman of the Clarksburg Offstreet Parking Authority. In a casual conversation with another member of the Parking Authority, John F. (Jack) Skinner, Mr. Wymer lamented the fact that there was no local organization that could accept gifts and bequests of money and property on behalf of the public for the betterment of the Clarksburg area. Mr. Skinner passed the idea along to William A. (Bill) Lear, then mayor of Clarksburg. Under Bill Lear's leadership, several informal meetings were held to further discuss the proposal. Then a number of community leaders were invited to attend an organizational meeting which was held on May 16, 1972, in the Consolidated Natural Gas Company auditorium.

The meeting was called to order by James M. (Jim) Campbell, chairman of a special committee appointed by Mayor Lear. Following an enthusiastic general discussion, it was voted unanimously to seek to incorporate a countywide nonprofit organization with broad legal power to enhance the cultural life in this area. Attorney H. Laban White was appointed chairman of the legal committee. Mr. White and his committee submitted an Agreement of Incorporation, applied for tax-exempt status, and prepared a set of by-laws.

The Agreement of Incorporation of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation, Inc. was approved by the West Virginia Secretary of State on November 2, 1972, and bore the signatures of the following citizens: Oscar J. Andre; W. Bernard Berry; James E. Boyce; Ulysses P. Buffington; Lester W. Burnside, Jr.; James M Campbell; Mary H. Curtin; Madge S. Douds; Edward J. Forinash; Roger J. Garrett; John G. Hanner; Cecil B. Highland, Jr.; Whalen L. King; William A. Lear; Nelson E. Matthews; Frank J. Maxwell, Jr.; A. Merle Moore; Alfred R. Reppert; John F. Skinner; Betty R. Smith; Jack A. Tillman; Stuart R. Waters; and H. Laban White.

After publicizing the formation of this new organization, a public meeting was held on December 6, 1972, at the Uptowner Inn in Clarksburg. At that time the proposed by-laws were officially adopted and an 11-member board of directors was elected. Elected to the board were the following: Ulyyses P. Buffington; Homer A. Carmichael; David L. Corsini; H. Laban White; Cecil B. Highland, Jr.; Mrs. Byron B. Randolph; John F. Skinner; Mrs. Thomas A. White; James M. Campbell; William A. Lear; and Frank J. Maxwell, Jr. The board then elected Jim Campbell to serve as president, Bill Lear as vice-president, Dave Corsini as treasurer and Jack Skinner as secretary.

Since that day in 1972, the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation has consistently fulfilled its mission and continues to do so by raising money and funding various arts projects in the community. The amount of monies raised and passed on is impressive and the accomplishments of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation deserve an historic review.

At that first meeting in 1972, the local librarian, Merle Moore, reported on the status of a proposal to build a new library. Little did the members know that raising funds for that project would become the foundation's first major undertaking. Only 6 weeks after the formation of the foundation, it was approached by the members of the Clarksburg Library Board for assistance in building the new library.

The library board had encountered two problems, one legal and the other financial. Purchasing the Ritz Theater Building, proposed site for the new library, required entering into a loan agreement with a local bank. However, it was found that the library board was not empowered to borrow money. It was therefore proposed that the fledgling Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation borrow $200,000.00, buy the Ritz Theater property, raise the local funds to repay the loan, and then give the property to the library board as a site for the new library.

Needless to say, the proposal staggered this newly formed body and its elected directors and officers. However, they rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge. Thanks to the scope of activities authorized for the Cultural Foundation at the time of its incorporation, they were able to negotiate with tenants of the Ritz Theater building in regard to their leases. Bill Lear and Ulysses Buffington agreed to serve as co-chairmen of a capital funds drive. The foundation not only raised the $200,000 as committed, but the final figures show that they raised and contributed a total of $323,125.00 toward the new 1.6 million dollar Clarksburg Public Library.

Encouraged and aided by the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Council and its director, James Andrews, another important action was taken by the foundation during that first year. It agreed to form a Clarksburg-Harrison Arts Council as an "arm" of the foundation. Its thrust would be to organize those groups throughout the county who were involved in arts programming so that unified and cooperative efforts could be made. E. W. James and Ulysses Buffington were to serve as co-chairmen. For the next 4 years the Arts Council was very active.

During those years, the Wheeling Symphony was brought to Clarksburg on two separate occasions and the foundation began the Artist-in-Residence program, continuing to be the primary sponsor of that project for 3 years. The foundation sponsored and directed Arts '74, Arts '75, Arts '76, Arts '77, Arts '78, Arts '79, and Arts '80, weeks-long arts festivals with art exhibits, concerts, workshops, programs of dance, and drama presentations involving most of the arts groups of the community. Former Clarksburgers, Phyllis Curtin and Davyd Booth, came back to their hometown to give benefit concerts.

One of the cultural activities, an exhibit from the National Endowment for the Arts, required 12 8' x 8' display panels. These were purchased by the Arts Council of the parent group and subsequently placed on loan to the local public library. Records show that the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation raised and channeled over $47,000 into the community for arts programming during the first 3 1/2 years of its existence.

During Arts '78, the West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble gave a performance whose profits provided the bulk of a capital funds drive. Funds from this drive, together with funds from the Clarksburg Community Concert Association, purchased a Steinway concert grand piano to be housed in Waldomore. It had been discovered that without a suitable piano, the Clarksburg Community Concert Association was faced with canceling concerts requiring a piano. In cooperation with the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, the piano has since been made available for community use. Guidelines for community use of the piano were adopted jointly by the library board and the board of directors of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation in 1980 and updated in 1985.

Several members of the foundation had assumed leadership roles in the renovation and restoration of Waldomore, the historic mansion which formerly housed the main building of the library. As a result of this involvement, toward the end of 1976 the foundation received a surprise dividend. The board of directors of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation was approached by Mr. Carroll Westfall, an art dealer with a studio in Pittsburgh. Mr. Westfall was a native of West Virginia and a former resident of Clarksburg. He had been commissioned by some of his clients to seek a worthy, charitable, non-profit group with the proper tax-exemption credentials to be the recipient of some oil paintings as tax write-offs.

Mr. Westfall had been following the activities of his hometown and the work of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation in particular. He asked if the foundation would be interested in being the beneficiaries of such gifts. Of course, the foundation accepted.

Thus began the foundation's extensive art collection. Through the years and through the generous assistance of Mr. Westfall in guiding these and other donors in the foundation's direction, the collection grew rapidly. In 1989, the collection had a total of 50 oil paintings and 3 sculptures. Appraised value of the collection exceeded $660,000. Portions of the collection have been exhibited in Waldomore and in the new library building. An annual exhibit of student art work uses paintings from the collection in its program activity.

Another important phase of the foundation's activities began in 1976, when it established a permanent endowment fund for the arts. The fund is held in trust by local banks and only the annual interest is used for local arts programming.

Income from the trust has been used to support a variety of arts programs, including programs of the Clarksburg Art Center, as well as several concert series at Waldomore. A large oriental rug was purchased and donated to the library for use in Waldomore. The foundation also purchased special dehumidifying equipment for the main room of Waldomore which houses the Steinway concert grand piano and a portion of the foundation's art collection. The foundation continues to pay for maintenance and tuning of the piano.

In 1979, the foundation provided seed money, which along with a grant from the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Council initiated the present program of string instrument instruction in our public schools. The foundation has continued to lend financial support to insure continuance of this program. 

Later in 1979, the foundation endorsed the concept of a civic and convention center in downtown Clarksburg. It later supported the cause in a local election to build such a center. Unfortunately, this proposal was defeated in the election.

Throughout the 1980's, the foundation continued its schedule of supporting arts programs and giving encouragement to other local groups through small grants from the foundation's endowment fund. The foundation also continued to give assistance in obtaining larger grants from the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Council.

In 1981, the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation hosted a state-wide workshop in arts programming. In 1982, Jim Campbell, as a member of the foundation's board, appeared before the United States Senate Appropriations Committee. He testified about the efficient use of small state-approved grants from the United States Endowment for the Arts and how such grants were being used as "seed money" to provide arts programs.

During the summer of 1985, the foundation took pride in being one of the sponsors of the production of an original musical, "Boardwalk to the Moon," written by local musician and playwright, Barbara Haynes. In 1987, the foundation presented the E. W. James Festival Concert. This concert recognized and honored another local composer, who for many years had directed the Madrigal Singers of Clarksburg. 

Other activities sponsored by the foundation during the 1980's include appearances by the Charleston Symphony, the West Virginia Symphonette, Theatre West Virginia, soprano Jane Hobson, poet Muriel Dressler, the Nova String Quartet, the Larry Parsons Chorale, and a sing-along performance of the "Messiah." It also sponsored an Architect-in-Residence program and several high school art contests; purchased musicians' chairs for use in Waldomore; and provided funds to clean the crystal chandeliers which hang in Waldomore.

Throughout the decade of the 90's, the foundation continued its efforts on behalf of the arts. During 1992, a very successful concert was held at the First United Methodist Church to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the foundation. 

For several years in the early 90's, Sunday afternoon concerts featuring local and other artists were held at Waldomore. These concerts were arranged for and hosted by Don Gardner.

As a fund-raiser in the mid-90's, the foundation co-sponsored with the Community Arts Partners in Education (C.A.P.E.,) a Festival of Trees. Local florists donated 7 fully decorated Christmas trees which were locally displayed and just before Christmas auctioned to the public. At the same time, the public had the opportunity to view the work of local art students. Funds realized from this project were distributed among the local high school art departments.

The foundation continued to assist the Art Center, Clarksburg Community Concert Association, the Young People's Orchestra, the West Virginia Choral Arts Foundation, local visual artists with an art exhibit in a local book store, and it provided assistance to the Goff Plaza Garden Club's Wetland's Project.

In anticipation of its 25th anniversary in 1997, the foundation adopted a logo designed by Georgette Griffith. The 25th Anniversary Concert, which was free to the public, showcased the arts groups which had received funding from the foundation.

In 1998, the foundation purchased 6 easels for displaying art works of local artists at WesBanco in the bank lobbies. In the same year, due to increased requests for funding, the foundation drew up forms for grant requests and established a time table for those requests. 

As a result of the dissolution of the Clarksburg Community Concert Association, the endowment fund received the monies left in that association's budget after all their expenses had been paid. The endowment fund also received a generous bequest from the estate of Margaret Criswell. The fund was also greatly enhanced when the foundation's collection of oil paintings was sold at public auction in Pittsburgh. The monies realized from the sale of this collection added an appreciable amount to the endowment fund. 

As the foundation continues its emphasis on the growth of the endowment fund, a major fund-raising project was held in 2000. It was an "appraisal fair" based on the format of the popular televised Antique Roadshow. It was considered a major success based on its premier effort and the foundation hopes to make this project an annual event.

Membership in the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation is open to any person or business interested in improving the quality of life in Harrison County through cultural and artistic activities. Annual dues are at least $15.00 per individual and $25.00 for a family. Individuals, businesses, and corporations are encouraged, not only to join, but also to contribute additional tax-exempt amounts to be designated for the foundation's endowment fund. Mail is received at: P.O. Box 2252, Clarksburg, WV 26302-2252

    Through the years, those who have served as president of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation are: 

1973 - James M. Campbell        1974 - William A. Lear         1975 - Ulysses Buffington

1976 - Ulysses Buffington         1977 - Mary Randolph          1978 - Mary Randolph 

1979 - Dr. Richard Heal            1980 - Dr. Richard Heal       1981 - Dr. Richard Heal

1982 - John F. Skinner             1983 - John F. Skinner        1984 - John F. Skinner

1985 - Don Gardner                  1986 - Don Gardner               1987 - Harry Berman

1988 - Dr. Richard Heal            1989 - Dr. Richard Heal        1990 - Dolores Yoke

1991 - Dolores Yoke                  1992 - C. David McMunn      1993 - C. David McMunn

1994 - H. Laban White              1995 - H. Laban White          1996 - Darrell Moorhead 

1997 - Darrell Moorhead             1998 - Don Gardner              1999 - Kipp Martin

2000 - Barbara Bean                   2001 - Dolores Yoke

The foundation continues to encourage those who can do so, to consider including the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation in their wills. It offers to those who appreciate our community, the opportunity to improve its cultural climate. By channeling a portion of our resources to a responsible group with proven credibility, we provide opportunities to perpetuate and enhance the cultural life of our "Home Among the Hills."