The Development of the Cockayne Farmstead

Sam Cockayne, a WWII veteran recluse, lived in two rooms of his 1850’s farmhouse.  The farm was internationally recognized for the Merino wool it produced, and the 19th Century Cockayne son and daughters were recognized artists, musicians and fashion icons.  The 1850’s farmhouse and original family artifacts tell a tale of high society during America’s age of rapid economic development.  With Sam’s passing in 2001, the house and massive collection of 19th Century family artifacts were left to the City of Glen Dale.  The property is leased to the Marshall County Historical Society in return for the Society’s preservation work.

March 2003 – a lease is signed between the City of Glen Dale and the Marshall County Historical Society with the end result the preservation and protection of the Cockayne farmhouse and its massive collection of 19th Century family artifacts and ephemera.  The Society focuses on securing funds to meets its goals.

 2004 – 2005 - A Master Plan is completed.  The box gutter system is rebuilt and the slate roof replaced.  The Cockayne prehistoric mound is recovered and restored to the farmhouse.  Modern underground electric service is provided to the Cockayne cellar.  The family artifacts are logged, documented and tagged by volunteers.  Lisa Cockayne dies and benefactors are located to purchase the property to protect it from demolition.

 2007 – 2009 – the front wraparound porch is rebuilt and the exterior of the farmhouse restored/rehabilitated, returning it to its color during its “era of significance.”  The south lawn is recovered and reunited to the property.  A part-time program director is hired to interface with the schools and institutions of higher learning.  A volunteer begins scanning over 14,000 pages of ephemera to allow research of the family’s history.  The smaller 19th Century home serves as a base for programming and offices.

 2010 – An outbuilding/shed is restored by Belmont Technical College’s Building Preservation and Restoration Program.  With the exterior envelope of the farmhouse protected, investigations begin on an approach to returning climate control to the farmhouse.  John Marshall High School students begin utilizing the south lawn for community gardens funded by USDA “Living to Serve” grants.

2011 – 2012 – Glen Dale creates the Cockayne Farmstead.  Groundwork is laid to create an educational curriculum around the history and sustainability of Cockayne.  A Cultural Landscape Study is completed by a student of WVU’s Landscape Architecture Department.  The Cockayne Farmstead becomes a part of the Marshall County Tourism Committee to promote Marshall County as a tourist destination.

2012 -2013 – All items and paperwork in the house are removed to prepare for installation of a humidistatically controlled geothermal climate control system.  The Geothermal Unit is installed and the farmhouse has central heating/cooling for the first time ever.   Major plaster repairs are completed.  At the end of this phase, the house is completely cleaned of decades of coal dust and cleaned artifacts are returned.  The mortgage for the smaller family home is paid off and this small house is officially reunited to the Cockayne Farmstead.    Design for electric distribution is completed and sent to the WV Division of Culture & History for approval.  A curb Cut for frontal access to the property is completed.  Progress is made on the development of a web-based curriculum through the association of Sustainable Learning Systems and the Professional Education Department at Wheeling Jesuit University.

2014 – Designs for electric distribution (including lights, wall outlets and safety lights), unobtrusive interior storm windows and a handicapped accessible ramp and walkways are provided the State Historic Preservation Office for approval.    Launch of the Adopt an Artifact Campaign – 13 Pieces of Original Cockayne Artwork are restored.  Several additional artifacts are adopted for future restoration.

The Society continues to consider the sustainability route it is taking through its education model and its continuing development of the project with a future outbuilding, which would showcase the Cockayne farm implements, provide storage for gardening tools, and provide an area for classroom activity.  The outbuilding is intended to have solar panels on the west side, away from public view, to generate electric power.  A water collection system, capturing rain water from the farmhouse roof and diverting it to an early well, is planned for implementation in the future.  With a geothermal climate control system, electricity generated through solar panels and the capture of rain water to feed the gardens and orchard, the Farmstead would be demonstrating good conservation practices that are, inmany ways, in keeping with the practices of the Cockayne family of the 19th Century.   

2015 - Installation of interior storm windows and a complete electrical upgrade of the 1895 electrical system, including distribution of outlets, are achieved.  Three original 19th Century family lighting fixtures are restored.  Documentation and conservation of several layers of 19th Century wallpapers is ongoing.  Handicapped accessible ramp and walkways between the parking lot and the farmhouse is completed in the Fall of 2015.  An Executive Director is hired in September, 2015 and the Farmstead welcomes the newly formed Marshall County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to share space within the Visitor’s Center.  This increases visibility and provides a stream of income for the Farmstead.

2016 – The year began with a change of hands. Our new Executive Director, Janell Keyser, was hired in May after Caitlin accepted a position with the National Trust.  We installed a historic marker and a new Visitor’s Center sign in August.  The previous parking lot, made up of grindings, was replaced with asphalt and a handicapped accessible walkway to the visitor’s center was completed.  Funds are in hand to upgrade the electric service within the visitor’s center and to install a handicapped accessible restroom over the winter months.