Thursday, August 22, 2013

From Beilla, Italy to Fayetteville, WV

More from Lafayette Flat official historian, Carl McLaughlin:

As mentioned in my first blog entry, Antonio Gros Janutolo was awarded the contract for the building of the "Stone Building" (Lafayette Flats) by Dr. M.M. Malcolm in August 1904. Antonio began his life in America as an immigrant Italian but became a naturalized citizen in September 1893 at the Circuit Court of Maryland. Before 1904 Antonio had already made at least two shipboard passages from Italy to America. His return trip from Beilla, Italy on March 26, 1904 to the Port of New York is the one most interesting to me.

S.S. La Touraine, the ship on which Antonio Janutolo
made his second voyage to the U.S.

He was listed on the S.S. La Touraine's Manifest of Alien Passengers for the Commissioner of Immigration as being 45 and single (first wife, Antoinette Grisoldi Janutolo died in Italy). His occupation was listed as a mason and his final destination was Kaymoor, WV. It was noted he had been in Kaymoor before from 1890 to 1904. Furthermore, he was "going home Kaymoor, Fayette to W. Virginia."

Federal Census gives us more information. In the 1900 census Antonio was listed as a boarder with the Joe and Clolibele Janutolo family of Fayetteville. He was 42 and they were 31 and 28 respectively. By the 1910 census Anthony was the head of his household. Also his children, Fioranzo and Eride had joined him from Italy. They were 20 and 15 at the time of the census and they all lived in Fayetteville.

Later, on June 25, 1910, Antonio married widow, Maria Dirchia Moro Ongaro. Maria was from Italy and her first husband, Giavachin Ongaro had been a well known stone mason from Northern Italy. He had died in Fayettteville from a dynamite blast. Before their marriage Maria had taken in boarders, one of whom was "Cleanties" Janutolo.

Cleante Gros Janutolo was Antonio's nephew. He had come to Fayette County in 1906 to learn the practical experiences of running a company from his uncle. Cleante had just graduated from an Italian Technical School trained in architecture in 1906.

In the late 1920s, Antonio, Maria and their two daughters, Alba and Ennis, left for Italy. Antonio was retuning to Biella, Italy for retirement. On January 18, 1933 Antonio would die in his beloved Italy.

However, the Janutolo family's story and influence in Fayette county would only grow stronger. More entries to come later on this subject. The next entry will describe the role Joseph Tyler Grose played in the Bank of Fayette's history. From teller to president and much more in between.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Naming Our Flats: So Much to Capture in Four Little Words

Even though we generated and received many great ideas, we have struggled with naming the flats. Old mine town names felt too lonely; local celebrity names already garner plenty of attention; and names of natural elements don’t quite capture the spirit of the Gorge. In an effort to respect the past while looking toward the future, we asked ourselves, “What makes the New River Gorge such a special place?” While the river and rocks are certainly defining characteristics, we feel that the Gorge is so much more. It’s about communities and connections; historical relevance and strength; the past and the possibilities; AND, of course, the unparalleled natural beauty of a landscape that is and always will be uniquely ours. We feel that the following four names capture this sentiment:

Second Floor-Front
The cliff and canyon walls of the New River Gorge are old and strong. The wearing and weathering of the Nuttall Sandstone has only exposed its beauty and strength, and today, it serves as a siren call to people from across the globe who are yearning for a true climbing experience. The slow and steady aging of the Gorge continues to enhance its dramatic presentation.

Second Floor-Back
If the mountains are the skeletal structure of the New River Gorge, then the bridge is heart of the circulatory system. Connecting people and communities by spanning the river and railways, the bridge is a source of transportation, celebration, and deep pride. It was built using Corten, a weathering steel that adjusts to the natural elements and stands as strong as our people.

Third Floor-Back
The water brings life and the river flows continuously, but every now and then, an eddy is formed. These eddies can be respites, but more importantly they are tools used by guides to safely navigate the river. As the water swirls and the currents pull, just as in life, we must acknowledge the experience and right ourselves for the waters ahead.

Third Floor-Front
Derived from Latin, this beautiful word means "five mountains." What a powerful, fitting name to describe the Gorge and an appropriate label for one of WV's earliest mining towns. The mountains protect and sustain us, creating a formidable front but exposing a hospitable heart.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"What is this? A Bed & Breakfast? A boutique hotel?"

We hear it all the time. Friends who maybe have caught a whiff of Lafayette Flats on our personal Facebook pages often don't grasp the concept. After running into yet another of these friends last night, we decided to write a post that explains vacation rentals in general, and how ours will work particularly:

First, the reason that we started the project was so we could have a place to stay in Fayetteville. We love it here and like to spend as much time here as possible. We're not cabin or campground people, so we found the lodging offerings rather limited. There are already a good number of vacation rental properties in the area, but most of these are large houses - great for large groups but not so much for a couple or small family. So we though that it would be great to have a small flat in town where we could leave a change of clothes and a toothbrush so we could come up any time we wanted. So flat #3 (third floor front) is ours.
Many people are familiar with beach house rental:
Lafayette Flats is the same idea except that our beach houses
are all in one historic Fayetteville building!
The other three flats are yours. You may stay in them for a couple of days, or a few weeks. They will be furnished, decorated and equipped to be your home away from home while you are climbing, rafting or kayaking, mountain biking, hiking or just enjoying the history of the area.

Many people are familiar with the concept of a Beach House Rental; Lafayette Flats is the same idea except that our beach houses are small flats in a historic building on a historic street in the coolest small town in West Virginia. We can understand the confusion, because most vacation rentals are just one house.

Fayetteville already has a great B&B - The Morris Harvey House
But Lafayette Flats is not a Bed and Breakfast either; no food is provided and no communal spaces or meals are forced on guests. And it's not a hotel; we have no maid service, no bellmen, registration desk or concierge.

Guests at Lafayette Flats can come and go as they please, sleep as late or rise as early as they like, cook their own meals in their efficiency kitchen if they so desire, and generally act just as though they are at home. There's no maid service to worry about; flats will be cleaned between stays, but there will be no daily intrusions to schedule around.

Prospective guests will be able to view availability and prices and make their reservations online. They will arrive at their leisure because they will have unique access codes with which to gain entry to the building and to their individual flat. After their stay is over, the flat will be cleaned and readied for the next guest.

That's pretty much all there is to it.

Now, about flat #3 (ours); it can be yours too. When we aren't using it, it will be for rent as well. We will have a private closet for our stuff, and so if someone wants to rent the flat we'll make it available. This makes it possible for a large group to rent the entire building. Imagine how nice it would be to travel with your extended family and having everyone under one roof, but each unit having their own living and sleeping space!

And we can think of one other use for Lafayette Flats for all you local Fayetteville folks: We hope that you will consider us when you have visitors in from out of town, perhaps during the Holidays. Think of Lafayette Flats as your guest room!

We hope this clears up the confusion.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Art Benefactors

Last month we promised an update on the local artist and art collector's offer to help us cover the walls of Lafayette Flats with original, local art, and here it is:

Mark Tobin Moore
Mark Tobin Moore and his wife Donna Whitten have become friends of the highest order to Lafayette Flats, and by extension to all of our guests and to the town of Fayetteville. They have given us an amazing array of breathtaking pieces from their extensive art collection that will soon adorn the walls of Lafayette Flats.
Mark is an art professor at the Erma Byrd Center for Higher Education on Concord University's Beckley campus. Before that he was a professor of art at West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston, and he spent 6 years as Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Art for the West Virginia State Museum. Mark is a well known artist in his own right and his work has been shown in many places including the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, the Huntington Museum of Art and galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Over the years he has collected pieces by many local artists who have been his students and/or colleagues.

Donna Whitten (& Sweetie)

Donna has deep roots in the New River Gorge. Her father, Tom Whitten, lived in Quinnimont and began his working life there with the C&O Railroad. After serving his country in the South Pacific he came home to Quinnimont and returned to work for the railroad. He met and married his wife, Jean, and they continued to live in Quinnimont until shortly after Donna was born. He served as the ticket agent and loaded freight and mail at the Prince Station, and later worked as a clerk for the C&O in Thurmond, Hinton, Beckley, and Raleigh. Donna grew up in the Beckley area.

Some of the pieces that Mark and Donna have given us are by well-known local artists, and some are by people whose names are not so recognizable but are of no less quality. Some are by Mark himself. There are several very apropos works that have strong connections to The New River Gorge that will resonate with Lafayette Flat visitors. One of Mark's pieces - titled "Quinnimont Sign Post" - includes an assemblage of artifacts he found when he first visited the site of that former town. This piece will hold a special place in Lafayette Flats that we will be telling you more about in another post soon.

We are absolutely blown away by Mark and Donna's generosity and look forward to proudly displaying these works in Lafayette Flats where people can enjoy them.

Thank you, Mark and Donna!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Quick Update

Wow, it's been busy at Lafayette Flats. So busy that we hadn't even realized that it's been nearly two weeks since we've posted. We have to do better! Here's a start:

Crazy construction activity has been going on. Not a lot of photogenic things to show you, but lots of work going on. Things like drilling holes for electrical and plumbing, framing up some interior partitions and nailing blocking into place all take a lot of effort but don't look too impresive in photos. But ask anyone who has been inside the building - a lot of work is happening.

Our construction schedule is aggressive and we are really leaning forward trying to keep away from those inevitable delays, but they sometimes still find us. Right now we are waiting on both the water and electric companies to come and hook up our new and improved services. Hopefully these will both be done by early next week.
Rock Star plumber Porter Jarrard
Waste plumbing is making some real progress thank to Porter Jarrard's committment to help us stay on schedule. He's been working overtime and weekends to help us meet our goal. He is a creative, smart and has a ton of experience with old buildings. We are very fortunate to have him as part of our team.

Roger Prevette continues to work on the inside electrical wiring even though he has nothing to hook it up to yet. Right now he is working on Flat #3, and once he figures out all of the nuances of running wires through the building's concrete and steel construction he will start on the others.

Next week our HVAC installer will be onsite, which means we should soon have air conditioning in case summer shows back up.

Lots of deliveries means that lots of work is happening inside!
We've made decisions on lots of interior finishes and fixtures and we look forward to showing you those in future blog posts.

We're looking forward to getting the walls and ceilings buttoned back up so the drywall finishers can do their thing. Once that's done it will be painting time. That's when the old building will start to look like something again and that is when we'll be featuring some nice photos.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 2, 2013

What a week!

This past week saw a lot of activity at Lafayette Flats.
  • Our electrician, RDP Electrical, made good headway on getting the new electrical service installed. The meter bases and all of the load centers are set and hooked up. Next will be the inspection and then we wait on the power company to hook us up.
  • Plumber and all-around go to guy, Porter Jarrard. got cooking on the new gas lines and made some headway on drain lines. We rented a heavy drill and got some holes bored for toilets and showers.
  • Oh yeah, we secured a primo tile guy to do our showers. He'll do his work in stages, the first being getting the shower Flat 3 built so we can gut the bathroom we've been using while staying there on weekends.
  • The roof replacement got underway despite the rain showers. A nice Friday helped them finish up on Saturday before the rain showers hit. We shouldn't have to worry about leaks anymore.
  • We finally got our HVAC order placed and have a delivery date for materials. This means we can get our HVAC installer scheduled and maybe have some more comfortable interior temperatures soon.
  • The basement is drying out! Just a couple of wet spots remain and it smells much better. 
Unfortunately not all of the activity was good:
  • It seems that a supplier has dropped the ball on a rather crucial long-lead time material order. It was the very first thing we ordered after we closed because we knew that its delivery time was so important.
  • The water company finally made an appearance and let us know that they won't install our upgraded water service in the same location as the old one, so we'll have to dig a trench and repave after the line is laid. Not good news. It means more money, time and inconvenience.
Ah well, that's just how it goes sometimes with construction. We'll adjust and move forward.

This week should see some real progress on plumbing and the completion of most of the framing. Hopefully a successful electrical inspection will lead to the power company scheduling our new service hook up.