ST. CLAIRSVILLE - During Wednesday's meeting, the Belmont County commissioners motioned to approve a request from the Belmont County Tourism Council to forward an additional $30,000 from the lodging tax receipts to tourism to be donated to the Morristown Historic Preservation Association to purchase and preserve the historic Black Horse Inn.
The commissioners heard from Doc Householder. director of the Belmont County Tourism Council, and Pamela McCort, vice president of the Morristown Historic Preservation Association, spoke about the benefit to tourism such renovations provide.
"We want to preserve these buildings if we can. Once they're gone, they're gone," Householder said. "We think this is a good investment.
McCort added that the Black Horse Inn is already on the National Register of Historic Places and in the National Register of Historic Districts.
"A restored Black Horse Inn becomes part of the National Road experience here in Belmont County," she said, pointing out other historic sites along the National Road. "It is heritage touring at its finest."
She added that the inn already boasts notoriety in and outside the state. She added that while private individuals have done much to save the building, it must now be taken into a non-profit 501C3 or county or village government.
She also noted an architect's report from 2012 which found the building structurally sound and worth saving. Morristown applied for transportation enhancement program funding last year, but did not receive funding due to the new transportation bill, which took acquisition of historic buildings out of it.
"We believe strongly in the Black Horse," she said. "When people travel the National Road, they stop in Morristown every single summer."
She recounted the local support and pledges which will still be available.
The first stage of the renovation would be the mothballing of the building. They will then actively seek other donors and funding sources to further the work of restoring.
"I believe strongly that it can be the capstone of our experience here," she said. "This is a significant building."
She added thanks to the Tourism Council for its help and support.
"This is truly one of the largest projects we've every done," she said, adding that the project also has possibilities in economic development if the inn can be a site for banquets or cottage industry.
"I consider our historical buildings and our history in Belmont County to be one of our natural resources," said Commissioner Ginny Favede, adding that the investment in such sites also brings related traffic to area businesses with the flow of tourists.
DeFrank can be reached at email@example.com