World War Memorial — Kimball, West Virginia

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Driving east on US 52 as you leave Welch and drive towards Bluefield you stumble across several small towns and communities.  Each of these communities are unique and different.  None of the towns feature a building as grand as the World War Memorial in Kimball.   The building sticks out like a sore thumb seeing as how Kimball is all of two or three businesses and several rows of houses but yet it still looks as if it belongs up on that hillside in Kimball right next to US 52.

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Also known as the Kimball War Memorial Building, stands on a hill in Kimball. Designed in 1927 by architect Hassal T Hicks from nearby Welch,  the memorial was dedicated February 11, 1928 to African-American veterans of World War I. It was the first such memorial to African Americans in the United States.

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As the coal industry which fueled the area’s economy began to wane in the 1950s and 60s, the memorial received less and less money and maintenance, becoming increasingly derelict.  The War Memorial was abandoned and an arsonist set fire to the building in 1991, leaving only the exterior walls.

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The memorial building was listed while still a ruin on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.   Finally spearheaded by local activists funding was found and the memorial was restored.  Today the building is restored to its former glory and is open for business.

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