WILLIAM Morris, a leader in the arts and crafts movement in the 1860s once pointed out that “old buildings do not belong to us only; that they have belonged to our forefathers, and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. … We are only trustees for those that come after us.”

It’s obvious that the Belmont County commissioners with the help of other individuals and organizations such as the Belmont County Tourism Council and grant funding have managed to save an historic county building dating from approximately 1890 — the former sheriff’s residence.

The commissioners recently were honored by Project Best for their efforts to renovate the building.

WHEN the structure no longer was used years ago, controversy raged about whether it should be preserved. Money, of course, was a problem, but funding efforts have been successful in recent years.

The St. Clairsville Board of Architectural Review was among those favoring the renovation.

When Tom Murphy, planning and zoning administrator for St. Clairsville, presented a memorandum of support from the architectural review board to commissioners last February, he pointed out the building when restored held potential for improved economic health, historical and architectural significance.

Other officials also voiced their support for the work.

According to plans, the Belmont County Tourism Council, which helped with funding for the project, will be housed in the building, which is important for future use for a variety of purposes.

THE BUILDING is in keeping with its surroundings on the historic National Road.

The Belmont County Courthouse, the former jail and the former residence all were designed by Joseph Warren Yost, an architect born in Clarington in 1847.

He also provided a design for a Franklin College building constructed in 1900 in New Athens. After the college ceased operations, that building was used as a school and now is the Franklin Museum.

Known for his architectural work on several courthouses as well as other public buildings in Ohio and West Virginia, Yost also designed Orton Hall at The Ohio State University.

PRESERVATION of the Belmont County building not only focuses on our history but also looks to the future.