Nutting named Distinguished West Virginian

WHEELING – Calling her a lady who has “passion for not only Wheeling and Ohio County, but all of West Virginia,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday bestowed the Distinguished West Virginian Award upon local preservationist Betty Woods “Snookie” Nutting.

The Wheeling resident is known nationally for her work in preserving and restoring Victorian-era buildings. She was the West Virginia adviser to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for nine years, the maximum term allowable by the organization.

Nutting remains an adviser emeritus to the Trust. She also was a member of the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, serving during the terms of three governors.

Tomblin asked Nutting to join him at the podium during Wednesday’s sesquicentennial ceremony at West Virginia Independence Hall. He called her a friend of West Virginia before presenting her with the award.

After receiving the award, Nutting said she has overseen the refurbishment of 22 buildings in Wheeling over about 46 years of work in the field. These structures are found throughout the city, including East Wheeling, Center Wheeling and North Wheeling.

“I started an initiative to show people what they could do with buildings,” she said.

Nutting said her love for historic architecture began when she was studying at what is now the University of Mary Washington in Fredricksburg, Va. She said one of her instructors took her class on a tour of some of the city’s buildings, an experience Nutting said influenced her to work to preserve historic structures.

Although she later attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts to study biology, Nutting said she never lost interest in preserving buildings.

That interest led Nutting to serve as president of the Victorian Landmarks Foundation in Wheeling for many years, becoming the driving force behind the annual Victorian Show-Off tours.

She also was one of the founding members of Friends of Wheeling, which recognized her with the Outstanding Efforts in Historic Preservation award. She also was named a “Friend of Heritage” by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp.

Nutting was the first president of Preservation Action in West Virginia, serving from 1994-95 and is a member of the board of directors of the Vandalia Heritage Foundation.

Earlier this year, Nutting was honored during the annual Tribute to Women at the Wheeling YWCA. During that event, she was referred to as “a preservationist extraordinaire.”

Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Charleston, congratulated Nutting on her award.

“Snookie Nutting has made a great difference in the state in terms of building preservation,” he said.