Mason County Memories: Historical society kicks off 2020

By Chris Rizer - Special to the Register

After a short break for the holidays, we’re back for more articles! To kick of the new year, I thought I’d take some time to lay out the historical society’s plans and goals for the new year.

As I’m sure some of you know, I recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a Master of Science in Historic Preservation. Next comes the job hunt, and there are a handful of local, or at least nearby, openings. These next couple months, as I find a job and settle into a new routine, will likely be a bit hectic and if I get a bit lost and off-track with my articles, I apologize in advance.

Now, as for the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, we have big plans for 2020 and beyond!

The most important project for the coming years is, of course, our future home in the Mitchell-Nease-Hartley Building. (I’m working on a shorter name!) While I’m applying to jobs and waiting for an interview, I will be preparing grants for the roof, utilities, interior work, and exhibits. This way, they can be submitted the second our 501(c)(3) status is approved. All work will of course be submitted to the Historic Landmark Commission for review. For more details on our ideas for the building, please attend our January meeting. (Date and time to be announced next week.)

Our goal is for our new home to be ready in time for the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Point Pleasant in 2024. That gives us a bit over four years to repair and improve the building, build a collection, and create our exhibits. With our community’s continued support, there is no reason we can’t meet this goal.

Our second major project for the coming year is to finish the documentation of our historic resources. So far, I have been focusing on downtown Point Pleasant, and I’m nearly finished with that. Next will be the homes on Main Street, followed the neighborhoods between 14th and 28th Street. Once Point Pleasant is finished, I’ll work north to the Bend Area, then through Letart and the Dutch Flats to Leon, then down Route 35 and Route 2, and finally into the area out towards Hannan High School.

While I’m working on the historic buildings, board member Angie Juelfs-Johnson will be working on our third project. To date, we have documented and assessed almost 150 of Mason County’s cemeteries. In the next year, we’d like to double that, bringing the total number up to 300. In 2021, we’ll bring that up to 450, and in 2022, we’ll wrap up documenting the 543 cemeteries scattered across our county.

With the focus on documenting our cemeteries before they’re lost, I don’t think we’ll have time for a cleanup this year. However, we would like to hold a workshop this summer focusing on headstone documentation, cleaning, and resetting. We can then support and provide help for anyone that wants to tackle their family cemetery.

If we can meet these three plans, I’ll be more than happy with the Society’s next year.

By Chris Rizer

Special to the Register

Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, reach him at

Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, reach him at