World War MemorialEdit profile
The World War Memorial, also known as the Kimball War Memorial Building, stands on a hill in Kimball, West Virginia. Designed in 1927 by Welch, West Virginia architect Hassell T. Hicks, the memorial was dedicated in 1928 to African-American veterans of World War I. It was the first such memorial to African-American veterans in the United States. The building functioned as a community center in the isolated coal mining region until a fire in 1991, which destroyed the interior. The stone, terra cotta and brick Classical Revival building stood as a ruin for more than a decade until a restoration. The memorial building was listed while still a ruin on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
African-Americans represented as much as thirty-five percent of the workforce in McDowell County coal mines, with 1500 volunteering for service in World War I. After a county-funded war memorial was built in Welch, African-American veterans petitioned the county commission for funding, resulting in an appropriation of $25,000 for the building's construction. The completed building housed a hundred-seat meeting room, trophy room, kitchen, recreation center and a library, and was used by local citizens of all races. It was also home to the Kimball American Legion post, which was itself the first African-American Legion post. The building was abandoned in the 1970s. After an abortive proposal to sell the property, studies continued for its restoration until the 1991 fire.
The building was restored in the 2000s and is used as a community center, winning an Honor Award from the West Virginia chapter of the American Institute of Architects.