The Manos is a beloved town landmark that has sadly fallen into disrepair since closing in 1995. For eighty-three years, the citizens of Grafton could enjoy the latest movie or Vaudeville show in this theater. First known as the Hippodrome, then The Strand, the Manos opened in its final incarnation in 1949.
Since purchasing the building, the City of Grafton has made improvements to make the Manos a vibrant part of the community once more. New energy efficient doors from Royal Glass have been installed and the facade has been replaced with bricks laid by volunteers from Leer Mine. The Taylor County Commission also paid to install a new electrical meter.
In 2022, the City entered into a partnership with the non-profit Unleash Tygart to conduct a pre-development phase of work. They have conducted Phase 1 environmental and asbestos/hazardous materials testing with funding through the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center. The next step will be a feasibility study to determine the most viable future use of the building.
The Grafton Model Railroad Historical Society has moved into the top floor of the Freight Station, making improvements and bringing life back to the building. They will have a work area and public display space to exhibit their projects.
The Freight Station was built in 1884 to receive loads of coal, lumber, livestock, and fresh meat that had been shipped over the Allegheny Mountains. The City purchased the building in 2017 and has made multiple upgrades to the structure. Following an environmental site study by the WV Department of Environmental Protection, a new roof was placed on the building, new windows were installed, and the front deck was rebuilt. Electrical service has also been restored and sewer and water lines have been upgraded to allow for future improvements.
The 2022 Grafton Gators Swim Team is having an incredible season under the leadership of Coach Will Angus. At a June meet in Clarksburg, the Gators participated in forty-four events and earned forty-two first and second place finishes. The Gators are sponsored by the Grafton City Council.
Improvements and upgrades to the City Parks continue. Central Playground, once the site of Taylor County’s first high school, has received electrical upgrades, an improved drainage system, and LED lighting. New picnic tables have also been installed as well as a bench swing, and an ADA accessible swing for disabled children. These join the new playground set, refurbished basketball courts, and fencing put in during a previous improvement phase. (Insert photo of Central Playground)
Pickleball courts have been set up at the Maple Avenue Playground, which received new benches, a bench swing, and an ADA accessible swing as well. Maple Avenue and Fetterman Park also have new LED lighting; an additional bench swing was installed at the Blueville Playground.
In 2017, the City began removing dilapidated buildings using a portion of the 1% sales tax levied on purchases inside city limits. As of June 2022, they have spent over $1.3 million dollars and removed more than 150 buildings. These include houses, garages, and the old Grafton Middle School, as well as asbestos testing and abatement on several structures. The removal of these eyesores will help stabilize property values while making neighborhoods more attractive for those looking to relocate to Grafton.
In May 2022, a new sidewalk was installed on Front Street, a joint project of the City, the Taylor County Commission, and the WV Division of Highways. The new sidewalk completes the Three Bridges Loop popular among local walkers and includes two benches and seven street lights. An AARP Community Challenge grant will pay for three additional benches, directional signs along the Loop, and a map to be placed on Main Street.
The Main Street Streetscape Project is also nearing completion. The final phase has been approved by the WV Division of Highways, which will replace the sidewalks down to the Grafton Post Office. Further sidewalk replacements are under consideration by the City Council.