Can’t visit Arthurdale in person? Learn more about our unique community by listening to these audio narratives covering various topics about Arthurdale.
Planning a visit to Arthurdale? The following audio files will be a great addition to the Arthurdale Historic District Driving Tour.
Each topical subject also corresponds with buildings featured on our driving tour. The numbers in parenthesis () correspond with a building number on the driving tour if you wish to use these audio files as a companion for our driving tour brochure.
The Great Depression and New Deal
Hundreds of thousands of Americans lives were changed after the stock market crash in 1929. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave them hope for change when he was inaugurated in 1933.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to this community in August of 1933 spurred the creation of Arthurdale to assist the poverty-stricken coal miners of North Central West Virginia.
The Homestead Community Program
The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 set aside $25 million for the creation of subsistence communities throughout the country. Arthurdale was the first one built.
The Project Begins
Plans for this new community began in earnest shortly after the first lady’s visit to Scott’s Run. Land on which to build the community was soon found.
Selection of the Homesteaders
The property had been selected, but now the Federal government needed to decide who was going to live in the new community.
Construction started on the community in the fall of 1933 and the first homesteaders moved into the new homes in the spring of 1934.
The first 50 homes built in Arthurdale were these prefabricated homes purchased from the E.F. Hodgson Company of Massachusetts. Examples of these homes can be found on C, E, F, & G Roads. (7)
The second 75 homes built in Arthurdale were these homes, named after Steward Wagner, the architect who designed them. Examples of these homes can be found on E and Q Roads. (1 & 15)
The final 40 homes built in Arthurdale were these homes with stone veneers. Examples of these homes can be found on M and U Roads (10 & 13).
Homesteaders were expected to have a family farm on their lots. There was also a 400-acre cooperative farm located on W Road (12).
The Arthurdale Association
In addition to subsistence farming, some homesteaders also worked in a craft industry. Men worked in the furniture and metalworking shops and sold their items through a mail order catalog or in the community shop. Women learned to spin and weave and sold their handmade goods directly to department stores. (5)
Although, the Federal government planned for homesteaders to be employed in a factory built in near by Reedsville, the factory did not provide steady employment for the residents until World War II. The factory is still being used as a manufacturing plant for Superior Fibers in Reedsville next to the Decker’s Creek Trail.
Elise Ripley Clapp served as the Arthurdale School’s first administrator. She created lesson plans where children would learn through hands-on projects. Originally comprised of six buildings, the Arthurdale School campus is located behind Valley Elementary. Four of the original buildings still stand today (20). Elsie Clapp’s home is located on Y Road, but can be seen best from Route 92 (14).
AHS Student Remembrances
Many students who attended Arthurdale High School have fond memories of Eleanor Roosevelt’s annual visit, trips to the White House for tea, and even the President’s visit to give the 1938 commencement address.
Community Health Care
A doctor and nurse were available in the community from almost the inception of the project. Homesteaders paid $1/month for health care. The doctor’s house and clinic are both located on E Road (8 & 9).
Homesteaders enjoyed weekly square dances, community meetings, and other special events. Most community activities took place at the Center Hall (4). The Federal government operations took place in the Administration Building (6).
Arthurdale is Complete
Comprised of 165 homes, Arthurdale also featured a factory, cooperative farm, community center, service station (16), and inn (17).
The Federal Government Ends Support
Arthurdale was a Federal project from 1933 to 1947. By 1947, all the buildings and homes in the community had been sold into private ownership.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Last Visit
While she was first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt visited Arthurdale annually to keep abreast of the progress being made. Her final visit came in 1960 to dedicate the new Presbyterian Church (19).
Funded through a 2008 grant by the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service, Arthurdale is pleased to offer these audio narratives about our nationally significant community.