On July 12, 1901, the Little Kanawha Valley Bank was incorporated in Glenville.
That same year, the bank was constructed with wood coming from a local
plaining mill and the decorated with metal work that had been brought in
on river packet boats. In 1906, two Glenville banks merged - the First
National Bank and the Little Kanawha Valley Bank, forming the Kanawha
Union Bank, which is now United National Bank.
was in the historic Little Kanawha Valley Bank that the WV State Folk
Festival first established a Country Store in 1960. Volunteers were
Starling and Nelson Wells, Nellie Engelke, Myra Mick, and Festival
president, Fern Rollyson. Around 1970, the Country Store and Museum was
relocated to the old Ruddell General Store, which was built in 1890 on
The Little Kanawha Valley Bank needed
to be moved because Kanawha Union Bank wanted to expand their property.
In March of 1977, the president of Kanawha Union Bank, Jack Stalnaker,
offered the historic bank to the West Virginia State Folk Festival if
the organization would preserve it as a landmark. In addition, Kanawha
Union Bank donated $500.00 toward the moving fee. Folk Festival
volunteers met on Monday, March 21st, 1977, and voted to accept the
offer. Nelson Wells was appointed a committee of one to seek donations,
contact movers and builders for the foundation, and to direct the
restoration of the building. On Monday, March 28, 1977, the move was
completed within one week, and the bank set up on the corner of Fern
Rollyson’s property on Howard Street, where it still stands.
1991, the Little Kanawha Valley Bank was listed on the National Register
of Historic Places through the efforts of the West Virginia State Folk
Festival and the General Federated Woman’s Club of Glenville.
the bank, you will see the oak framing and marble counters and the
original metal grillwork around the two bank work stations, one for the
cashier and one for the bookkeeper. Several old cash registers are also
there. An old bank safe stands open in a back room. Photographs on the
walls tell the history of the bank.
WV State Folk
Festival volunteers are still in the process of preserving and restoring
this local landmark, which requires donations. A donation box can be
found in the bank – we appreciate your help to preserve and restore the
Little Kanawha Valley Bank as a unique part of West Virginia history.
Donations may also be made via PayPay, by clicking here.
Festival Raising Money for Repairs of Little Kanawha Valley Bank Building
By Judy Rich
Located on Howard Street overlooking
downtown Glenville is the Little Kanawha Valley Bank building. The Little
Kanawha Valley Bank received its charter in 1901, and the building was
constructed the same year. In 1906 the bank merged with the First National Bank
forming the Kanawha Union Bank, and the Classic Revival-style building was
occupied by until 1916 when the bank outgrew the small facility. Originally
located on Powell Street, it was moved to its present location in 1977 when the
Kanawha Union Bank donated the building to the West Virginia State Folk
Festival. The building has served various functions since 1916 and has been
moved three times, but is now situated on a lot roughly a block from its
The building is architecturally
significant for its pressed metal material and its use of classical detail –
the bank's sheet metal exterior is its most notable characteristic. Pressed
metal was a popular building material during the early twentieth century, and
the low cost of the material allowed the bank to imitate the impressive
classical fronts of larger, urban financial institutions. Since the 18th
century, American buildings have displayed ornamentation in a variety of metals
which was primarily reserved for grand houses and large commercial and
religious buildings. Technological advances after 1800 led to a greater variety
of metals available at a lower cost, but sheet metal became less popular after
the 1930’s. Many buildings that had been covered with metal were stripped, and
those that were originally covered with the metal during the turn of the century
are few. Although the Little Kanawha Valley Bank has been moved several times,
it still retains its original sheet metal exterior that it had in 1901.
For many years, the building was home to
the late Claude Kemper’s “Birds of My Hollow” exhibit during the Folk Festival,
and this tradition continues with Ron and Lynne Kemper. The building is also
home to the paper quilling demonstrations by Reita Marks during the festival.
The Folk Festival would like to continue to use the building for these purposes,
as well as for other artistic purposes throughout the year. In order for this to continue, repairs to the
roof and windows are urgently necessary.
The Little Kanawha Valley Bank is a
historic treasure that only adds to the legacy of the downtown area, but it has
had little attention in recent years. Its most urgent need is a new roof, which
requires that the Folk Festival committee conduct fundraising activities. The results of a successful fundraising
effort toward the repair of the building can only be a positive for the
Glenville and Gilmer County communities.
The Little Kanawha Valley Bank building
was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and is now under
federal protection. Contributions for the maintenance and improvements to the
building are welcome and may be sent to the West Virginia State Folk Festival,
P.O. Box 362, Glenville, WV 26351. Donations may also be made online at www.gofundme.com/littlekanawhabank.
Birds of My Hollow Exhibit
The Kemper Family Birds of My Hollow Exhibit
The Kemper Family’s Birds of My Hollow collection will be on display in the Little
Kanawha Valley Bank on Howard Street during the Folk Festival. This collection
of Claude Kemper’s carved birds and his daughter-in-law Lynne’s additions to
the collection have been coming to the Folk Festival for almost 40 years. Once
again, the family will be holding a bird identification contest and this year
will raffle off one of the birds Lynne has carved.
As youngsters growing up on a farm
in Newberne, West Virginia, Claude Kemper and his sister Eva, like many young
people in his community, spent their free time with whatever Mother Nature
provided. At age 4, Claude received his first pocket knife, a tool that would stand
him in good stead well into his 90’s.
Initially, that tool was used to fashion all sorts of toys, such as a
whistle, or a pop-gun, from branches and scraps of wood found around the farm. Later in life, a pocket knife would be the
primary tool used to carve out the birds with which he had become familiar as a
boy. As children, he and Eva would begin
looking for bird nests in the spring and once finding them watch as the parents
fed their young and the fledglings flew from their nests. The images of those
birds stayed with him, and in his early 60’s they emerged as the beautifully
and faithfully carved Birds of My Hollow
To help him identify the birds in his hollow,
Claude collected small bird identification trading cards that came with
packages of Arm & Hammer Brand
Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda).
On the front of each card in the Useful
Birds of America series was a reproduction of a watercolor painting of a
bird by artist Mary Emily Eaton who was an illustrator for the New York Botanical
Garden, National Geographic Magazine,
and the U.S. National Herbarium in the
early 1900’s. On the back
of each card was a description of the featured bird and a caution: “For the good of all, do not destroy the
birds.” A small collection of these cards are on display in the Little
Kanawha Valley Bank with the Birds of My
daughter-in-law Lynne first began carving with him, he suggested that she carve
some of the numerous warblers that he had not gotten around to including in his
collection. So far she has added four warblers to the Birds of My Hollow collection: the Golden Winged Warbler, the Kentucky
Warbler, the Palm Warbler, and the Yellow-throated Warbler. She also carves
realistic individual feathers out of bass wood and tupelo that are part of her Birds of a Feather collection. Several of her feathers have won awards
Florida International Wood Carving Expo held in Fort Myers, Florida.
During the Folk Festival, Lynne will be demonstrating how to carve her
feathers and will have a display of the process set up for visitors to
view. Lynne is also an art instructor at the Cape Coral Art League where
she resides for most of the year. Come see if you can identify her warblers
and the feathers in the display at the Little Kanawha National Bank.
Bird Identification Contest
COME TEST YOUR BIRD IDENTIFICATION SKILLS: There are now 49 carved birds in the Kemper
Family’s Birds of My Hollow Collection,
all of which spend at least part of their year in Glenville, West Virginia.
The identification contestwill be
held during the Folk Festival in two categories: one for adults and one for
young people 16 years old and younger. The contest will run all day Friday and
end at 3:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. Prizes will be awarded at 4:00 PM on
Saturday to the first contestants who have identified the most birds and
Bird Identification Contest Winners, 2015
Twenty-six contestants took part in the Kempers’ bird identification contest. Eleven of the participants were 16 years old and younger; 15 were adults. There were 47 birds and 3 carved wood feathers to identify this year.
Winners in the young people’s category:
1st place: Rhea Finley, Glenville, WV (35½ points out of 50)
2nd place: Tobias Bone, Glenville (32½ points)
3rd place: Casey Bone, Glenville (22 points)
4th Emma Samples, Lost Creek, WV (11 points)
The youngest participant was 4-year-old Nora Richmond, Sunbury, OH (10 points).
1st place: Earl Lemley, Core, WV (46½ points)
2nd place: Patrick Hall, Smithville, WV (43 points)