Part # 1 The Rehabilitation of the Golden Rule Building, Belington W.V. Begin’s.

In the small town of Belington, West Virginia stands a 116 year old building that is reminiscent of West Virginia’s heyday of coal and the money it once brought to Barbour County. The Golden Rule building owned by the Shinn family was built to serve the local community as a grocery store and later a furniture store. 70 years later with the closer of several coal mines, decline of the population and the loss of jobs, the 3 story building fell on hard times just like the community where it stands. Left to decay and become an abandoned storage building the Golden Rule’s future was questionable.  In 2014 the historic building, having one of the only water powered elevators in North America, was listed as an endangered property by the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. It took another 4 years for things to change for the future of the Golden Rule.

Golden Rule Belington Wv

1902 Golden Rule Building Belington West Virginia

Golden Rule elevator gears Preservation aliance of WV

Water powered elevator pulles in basment of the Golden Rule. photo use with permission of the PAWV.

As the building name implies, The golden rule,“Do on to others as you wish them to do unto you” the Woodlands Development Group of Elkins, West Virginia is taking on the challenge of bringing the structure back from abandoned and returning it to usefulness. In March of 2018 the building officially changed ownership and the slow work of rehabilitation began. With use of historic tax credits, forgivable loans and grant money, the plan includes converting the upper two floors of the building to 10, one and two bedroom apartments with at retail space on the first floor. The ground-floor space will have the Durbin& Greenbrier Vally Railroad ticket booth, a small museum space and an artist market and coffee bar. The additional building on the property is planned to house a community space with a working kitchen and outdoor seating. Woodlands Development Group is working in partnership with the Belington Revitalization Committee and The Barbour County Development Authority to meet the needs of their community with quality housing and new jobs within the building itself.


messages and images similar to these will appear in the Golden Rules windows. These appeared in store front windows in White Sulphur Springs, W.V after their down town was flooded in 2016.

The first stages of change that community will see are the boards going into the window spaces in the upper levels of the building. The boards will be painted with brightly colored images and inspirational sayings to help residents visualize that positive change is happening. The other less obvious change is the clean-up of the interior of the building. Loads of trash and recyclable items have been left all though the building and must be removed before any serious construction can begin.

barral with mop at Golden Rule

mixed recyclable items with trash and barrel inside the Golden Rule.

With some of the items left behind the partners hope to have a fundraiser for the rehabilitation of the building. I have been asked to help create Golden Rule commemorative plate with an image of the building on some of the stoneware plates you see below. What was once trash will be sold in commemoration of the building and its return to usefulness.

IMG_20180402_172605208_3 (1)

bottles and plates found in the basement of the Golden Rule. This plates will be decorated with a decal to commemorate the rehabilitation of the building 

As often is the case, the previous owners of the Golden Rule have just walked away, leaving some else to clean up the mess. It will take months of AmeriCorps service hours to clean, sort, recycle or reuse the buildings contents but in some way it is all a sign of positive change for everyone involved.

empty shoe boxes at Golden Rule

Empty boxes line the shelves of the sales floor of the Golden Rule Building. 

The project is expected to take around 3 to 4 years to complete with completion of the community building taking a little longer. Today I watched as AmeriCorps members removed the arched windows of the front of the building so that they could be repaired. It is just a small step towards the final goal of seeing this building being a vital part of the downtown of Belington, West Virginia once again.




Categories: AmeriCorps, antiques, Barbour County, Belington, WV, Building rehabilitation, Collector Plates, Golden Rule, historic locations, history, mythology, Time Capsule, Uncategorized, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Part # 1 The Rehabilitation of the Golden Rule Building, Belington W.V. Begin’s.

  1. Sherri

    Looking forward to seeing the progress!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad to know that this building will be saved from decay and the ravages of time without care.


  3. Paul or Betsy Loar

    I was inside The Golden Rule about 3 years ago…. they were having a sale of the remaining items. I got up to the second floor but found nothing to buy. I don’t remember the basement being open? if the plates you pictured are Carr China?…..They can bring some good prices on E Bay. I remember my mother taking me into that store as a child….some 75 or 80 years ago. My wife and I lived seasonally out at Teter Creek Lake for 17 years. Still miss Belington, Phillippi, and Elkins. I’m from Grafton originally and my roots are in Kasson. Paul Loar

    Sent from my iPad


    • Paul or Betsy,
      I is always nice to hear from people who care about a community and what is happening. Sadly the plates are not marked by any manufacture and were just white stock that the store carried at one point. We have lots of saucers but not cups??? The building does not have anything of real value left inside. The important things were gone a long time ago.. but their are some fun things that will be saved as part of the history of the building. Thank you for stopping in and sharing your thoughts. I hope to have more stories and photos over the next few months. Jolynn


  4. Very nice that the Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad will have a home in this historic building since Belington has no Train Station now like in Elkins.


  5. Sandra J Gardner

    Love seeing the photos. and reading the story. I grew up in Belington and took everything there for granted, including The Golden Rule. After moving away in the late 50’s, I began to appreciate the small town atmosphere and when we visited family in Belington we loved to go upstairs at the Golden Rule and search for mementos from days gone by. The owner, Bill Shinn, was no longer living by then and it was run by his wife, Wanda, with the able assistance of Carl “Hatchet Head” Findley, one of the nicest persons ever. I have a photo of our family members displaying their treasures after returning from one of our trips there. Sandra Gardner


    • Sandra,
      if you are interested in sharing that photo and the story please go the the Woodlands Development Group Face book page and add what you have to their request for photos and stories about the old building
      thanks soooo much for the comment and sharing your life with me


  6. Pingback: Saying Goodbye to 3 years of AmeriCorps Service. | West Virginia Mountain Mama

  7. Pingback: The Golden Rule Under Construction #2 | West Virginia Mountain Mama

  8. Pingback: Construction Completed at the Golden Rule; Rehabilitation of the Golden Rule #3. | West Virginia Mountain Mama

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