Man builds wall with historic stones from demolished church
By KAITLYN NEFF
Times West Virginian
A Fairmont resident has helped keep historic church stones alive in the city.
The First United Methodist Church was constructed Sept. 24, 1911, on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Fourth Street, and stood until Jan. 20, 2013, according to DD Meighen. Its ground serves as the present-day location for CVS Pharmacy.
The church held many memories for the residents of Fairmont, and Mike Carkin said he wanted to “keep those memories alive for the people of Fairmont.”
Carkin moved to Fairmont from Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2013. When he heard of the demolition of the church, he knew he wanted to help preserve the history for the city.
“Construction has been a big part of my family, and it has been passed down for generations,” Carkin said. “I have a passion for restoring things, so when I heard they were taking down that old church, it inspired me to do something.”
Carkin was able to work out a deal with the contractors, and he was able to gather a significant amount of the church’s stones.
“To see all of that beautiful church stone go unused, it would be an atrocity,” Carkin said.
Carkin had no plan originally as to what he would do with the stone, but as he was renovating his own house, he had an idea. Carkin envisioned two walls built with the stones in his own backyard.
“It is a shame not more of the stones could have been saved, but I just wanted to let the people of Fairmont know that these stones are being kept alive somewhere in their city,” Carkin said.
“I have always heard so many wonderful and happy stories from people about the church, whether their grandmother got married there or they grew up in that church. I’m just glad I was able to make use of these stones, and be able to share their beauty with the next person who moves into this house.”
Currently, Carkin’s home is listed for sale. He and his family are looking to relocate because of a new employment opportunity.
He said he put in more than 200 “man hours” using his own two hands in the construction. While it is not quite finished, Carkin looks forward to its finalization.
“My work is certainly not perfect, but it looks age appropriate with the historic stone,” Carkin said.