CHARLES TOWN – Media Farm, the Gothic Revival home built outside Charles Town that began with a log structure in 1780, is featured in the state Historic Preservation Office’s calendar for 2019.
The free calendar, put together by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, is mailed to anyone who requests one – as long as supplies last.
The Hillsboro home of Pearl S. Buck appears on the cover of the calendar, along with 12 other landmarks from around the state, each paired with text from a West Virginia writer.
For February – Black History Month – the Piedmont Public Library Building in Mineral County is shown beside an excerpt from Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Research.
The library is the only other Eastern Panhandle site included in the calendar. The featured text – about how a young Gates moved from reading only sports “fluff” to “A Tale of Two Cities” and other serious work – comes from the book penned by Gates in 1994, “Colored People: A Memoir.”
Ann Pancake, the 55-year-old author of the award-winning 2007 “Strange As This Weather Has Been,” was born in Romney and grew up in both Romney and Summersville. A snippet from her novel is shown on the July calendar page beside a photo of the Brock Hotel in Summersville.
The March calendar page pairs Waterford Park in Hancock County with words from “Lord of Misrule,” a 2010 novel that won the National Book Award for Fiction.
Jaimy Gordon, a former groom and “hot walker,” has said she drew on her three years working at the race track in Charles Town for her book.
The Media Farm appears on the November calendar page with text from “The Anvil” author Julia Davis, who died at 92 in 1993.
Davis’s maternal grandparents inherited Media in 1890. After her mother died when she was just weeks old, she split the year between her father’s family in Clarksburg and summers in Jefferson County.
“All winter I longed for the summer at Media with an eagerness not wholly pleasing to the Davises, but if they felt a jealousy, they were too noble to say so. For the child I was, Media meant joy and freedom ….” reads the text included in the calendar, an excerpt from Davis’s 1961 memoir, “Legacy of Love.”
Davis wrote the two-act play about the trial of John Brown to celebrate West Virginia’s centennial in 1963.
Even before she penned “The Anvil,” Davis’s works frequently focused on topics related to the Civil War, slavery and the Confederacy, including a children’s biography of Confederate military leader (and Clarksburg native) Stonewall Jackson.
West Virginia history was central to Davis’s identity. Her paternal grandfather had served as one of the delegates to the Wheeling Convention, the gathering that led to the creation of the state of the state on June 20, 1863. Her parents married on June 20, 1899 and her mother, Julia McDonald Davis, died in 1900.
Her father is best known as the Democrat who lost the 1924 election to President Calvin Coolidge. He held a law degree from Washington & Lee University, served in Congress, worked as a London-based diplomat and won appointment as Solicitor General under President Woodrow Wilson.
He argued before the Supreme Court 140 times, the final case being his unsuccessful defense of the “separate but equal” doctrine in Briggs v. Elliott, a companion case to Brown v. Board of Education. He represented South Carolina in that a decision handed down just months before his death in 1955.
Born in Clarksburg, Davis studied at Wellesley and Barnard colleges and in 1926 became one of the first women hired as a reporter at The Associated Press news service.
She was married four times to three men, reuniting with her first husband, William Adams, in 1976 and remaining married to him until his death a decade later.
Davis was a devoted stepmom who spent years working to find homes for orphans as an official with the Children’s Aid Society in New York City. She also won multiple Newbery honors for her children’s books.
In 1980, Davis returned to her mother’s family history for “Never Say Die: the Glengary McDonalds of Virginia,” which recounted Angus McDonald’s flight to America after the 1746 Battle of Culloden and how his branch of the clan grew in Virginia, Ohio and the land that would become West Virginia.
In her later years, she also wrote the Jefferson County Historical Society’s book on historic homes, “Between the Shenandoah and the Potomac.”
After moving back to Jefferson County in 1986, Julia died in what was then Jefferson Memorial Hospital. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places since 1994.
Other highlighted writers included in the calendar: Preston County native Cynthia Rylant, author of the 1979 children’s book, “When I Was Young in the Mountains”; Sylvia Nasar, who wrote the widely praised “A Beautiful Mind” about West Virginia native John Nash, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics; and Anna Egan Smucker, the Bridgeport writer known for “No Star Nights” and other children’s books.
Funding for the calendar project comes from a variety of sources including the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Design work for the calendar was handled by Starry Eyes Media based in Oak Hill.