KEYSER, W.Va. — One of Keyser’s historic landmarks will soon be in the hands of Burlington United Methodist Family Services.
The pre-Civil War mansion was sold during a Tuesday morning auction.
After settlement with the city of Keyser takes place and renovations are completed, the former Alkire Mansion will become home to as many as seven boys, according to BUMFS CEO Michael Price.
“It’s a huge house, but we’re only going to have seven in there,” he said. “They will be under supervision 24-7.”
The youths typically are housed on the Burlington campus. “We want to move it into the community,” Price said. “It’s a better environment for them.
“There’s already a girls cottage in Keyser, and it’s working very well,” he said.
While living on the property, which is located next to Mill Meadow Park where there is a ballfield and walking trails, the boys ages 12 to 17 will learn life skills, such as how to budget and take care of themselves.
The boys also will receive therapy and tutoring for their school work, Price said.
One of the goals of the Burlington United Methodist Family Services, an agency that works with infants, young children, parents and adults and provides services ranging from full-time residential programs to in-home visits from licensed social workers, is to work within the community.
“I’m hoping for a good partnership with the city,” Price said, noting that the boys can help with maintenance and upkeep for the residence as well as the park, or “just something as simple as shoveling snow on a sidewalk in the city as a community service.”
The Burlington United Methodist Family Services is “held to a higher standard than what the state requires,” Price said, referring to the upcoming renovations, for which bids soon will be advertised.
“We have to refurbish the whole house, and that includes rewiring, all new plumbing and a new fire alarm system before we can occupy.” Renovations can begin right after settlement, Price said.
Keyser City Administrator Amanda Brafford told Price that settlement can take as long as 60 days, but officials would try to get it done in as little as two weeks, he said. The bidding ended at $25,000.
“The cost of renovations is estimated at $250,000. Compared to the estimated cost of $1.2 million to build a new facility, this is quite a savings,” Price said.
Price credited the BUMFS board of directors for its support and giving him the go-ahead to purchase the property.
“There were people there (at the auction) who said they would not bid unless BUMFS was not going to bid,” Price said. “I think that said a lot about the community. They know what we do and appreciate what we do.”
“We’re excited and happy about it and it’s the best thing that could happen,” Keyser Mayor Damon Tillman said. “The city years ago wanted to tear it down. The historical society tried to fix it up but couldn’t.”
“The city isn’t in a good financial situation right now and doesn’t have the money to restore it,” Tillman said. “Burlington is going to make it livable and put it to good use.”