Fairmont Forward: A Ribbon Cutting Gala will celebrate the completion of the first floor of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28.
The event will take place across from the Folklife Center at the Squibb Wilson Boulevard entrance of the Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College shared main campus. Traditional old-time cookies and wassail will be served, and tours of the Folklife Center will be available.
"We are very excited about this ceremony. To enter into the first floor of what was once Michael Kennedy's dairy barn and then the Colonial Apartments and is now the home of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is a thrill," said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
Located on what is today the west side of campus, the Michael Kennedy Dairy Barn, built circa 1903, was converted into the three-story Colonial Apartments circa 1941, when Robert Nutter added gable and arched dormers and indigenous fieldstone to enhance the façade. The Colonial Apartments housed several Fairmont State faculty members, including noted folklorist and author Dr. Ruth Ann Musick. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Ruth Ann Musick lived and died in the Colonial Apartments. This was her home from 1946 to 1974, the years during which she collected all the rich folklore that we now have that is so representative of our region," Byers said. "Isn't it fitting that in her home we are now housing the Folklife Center?"
As a result of the generous leadership gift from Fairmont State alumni Frank (Class of 1961) and Jane (Class of 1960) Gabor, ground was broken in May 2008 for an adaptive reuse project to provide a permanent home for the Folklife Center.
"We are pleased to see phase one and two completed. We look forward to the completion of phase three sometime around Homecoming next year, which includes the entire second floor. Once it is completed, we believe the center will serve as a cultural focal point for our state heritage and culture," said Frank Gabor.
As part of the ribbon cutting celebration, the B.B. Maurer Folklife Scholar Award will be presented to Kate Richardson Long, and the Traditions Salute Award will be presented to Fawn Valentine.
Kate Richardson Long is a West Virginia cultural advocate, songwriter, documentary and media specialist. She has worked as a media writing coach for nearly 25 years in many parts of the U.S. and Canada. Her fiction, songwriting, video editing, radio production and newspaper stories have won national awards. She frequently produces programs for West Virginia Public Radio and Television and conducts writing and storytelling workshops.
Fawn Valentine is a quilt historian, scholar and leader in the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search and accompanying documentary "A Stitch in Time." Her text, "West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers," published by Ohio University Press, is the most comprehensive overview of West Virginia's best-known and best-loved art form, replete with oral histories and interviews with descendants of quiltmakers, database analysis of a statewide survey and a complete listing of registered quiltmakers.
In addition to the Ribbon Cutting Gala, several other events will be offered as part of Homecoming 2010, "Metropolitan Mania." A Quilt Reading by Fawn Valentine will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Folklife Center. Those who attend are invited to bring a quilt to be analyzed by quilt historian Fawn Valentine. A Silent Auction and Open House at the Folklife Center are planned for 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, and for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Visitors are invited to stop by the newly completed first floor of the Folklife Center and place a bid or two on a selection of folkloric and interesting items at the Silent Auction. Students will be on hand to answer questions and share their experiences in the folklore and museum studies programs.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of the region's rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals and performances and publications. For more information, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/wvfolklife/default.asp or find the Folklife Center on Facebook.