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Letter LaPresta

By Staff | Feb 24, 2012

Danielle LaPresta

Preservation Alliance of West Virginia

Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) recently learned that the Charles Town, West Virginia’s Historic Landmarks Commission has approved a plan to demolish several historic buildings for new construction of a CVS Pharmacy in the Downtown Charles Town Historic District. As the statewide, grassroots nonprofit organization supporting historic preservation, it is of great concern to PAWV that an historic town like Charles Town would consider the new construction of a generic box drug store within its historic downtown. It is even more shocking that this proposal has been accepted in light of the planned destruction of historic buildings to make way for the building and a large parking lot.

Instead of accepting this current intrusion as it stands, PAWV recommends that the city consider alternatives with historically sensitive construction that would not destroy the historic built environment. The town’s heritage should be respected and saved in order to preserve the marks left on our national landscape and the collective memory associated with them.

There are many cities where CVS has constructed architecturally compatible stores in the middle of historic districts. In St. Petersburg, Fla., for example, residents encouraged CVS to build a store in the Art Deco style, better matching the surrounding, local architecture. However, infill architecture, as proposed with the new CVS, should not include the demolition of historic structures and should be consistent with the size, scale and character of the adjacent buildings. Charles Town and CVS have an opportunity to continue the gift to the street that past structures represent a gift of beauty, texture, variety and creativity that we all need. PAWV hopes that the current plan will be amended in a way that is either complementary to the historic downtown district and in conformance with the city’s comprehensive plan, or that a location outside the downtown be selected.

PAWV stands ready to assist CVS and Charles Town in any way we can to arrive at a project that contributes to the long-term future of Charles Town as an impressive landmark city.