Twenty-two new historic signs, featuring high-quality images from the past, have recently been erected in the Tucker County, WV Town of Davis. The signs were officially unveiled on October 6, 2023, when a festive crowd of several dozen people met at 3:00 PM at the Davis Town Hall.
A brief talk about the history behind the signs was followed by a walking tour of William Avenue — which has twelve of the new signs. Participants enjoyed pointing out historic images — including long-gone relatives and friends. Mary Quattro pointed out photos of her grandmother and aunts in the sign illustrating the Davis Lunch Restaurant and Jim’s Bar. Mary herself is pictured dressed as a 5-year-old princess in the 4th of July float.
Tour participant Pete Barmer’s family appears on two signs in front of the old Shop and Save. Both grandfathers and his parents are shown. Pete, as a fifth grader, is mentioned in a story about the Coketon “Colored School,” which he attended.
The tour ended with cake and lemonade — and for some people, a meal at Sirianni’s. Judy Rodd, the Director of Friends of Blackwater, which organized the event, said: ”There were wonderful reminiscences on the walking tour. There was also great enjoyment by people hearing some local history for the first time. It was a nice mix.”
Local residents and history experts researched and fact-checked the images and text on the new signs, which are professionally built to National Park Service standards.
In addition to the William Avenue signs, there are five signs in what is now Davis’s Riverfront Park, featuring images of the huge sawmill complex that was located there.
An additional four signs are in Blackwater Falls State Park, just across the Blackwater River from Davis. These signs also illustrate important industries of Davis at the turn of the last century: the pulp mill, the tannery, and the sawmill. They can be accessed by entering the Park on the road to the right, just after the Davis Bridge on Route 32.
For a complete guide to the sign display, pick up a brochure at the Davis Visitors Center — or go to Friends of Blackwater’s website, in the section on “Heritage,” at: https://www.saveblackwater.org/davis-business-signs.
Support for this historic interpretation project has been provided by the donors to Friends of Blackwater, and by the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the WVHC or the NEH.