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'Road to Statehood' to premier in Wheeling

June 18, 2013
From staff reports , Weirton Daily Times

WHEELING - Northern Panhandle residents have an opportunity Wednesday to see the premiere of "West Virginia: The Road to Statehood" during a 7:30 p.m. event at West Virginia Independence Hall.

The 45-minute documentary, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, focuses on the issues, differences and disagreements that divided Virginia in the 1860s, turning families and neighbors against one another throughout what is now West Virginia.

Through interviews with state historians, dramatizations, archival letters, sketches and photographs, the film examines events and philosophies behind West Virginia becoming a state during the Civil War, particularly through the lives of Francis Pierpont, who is called the "Father of West Virginia," and former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who defended "Old Virginia."

Admission is free. The viewing will be in the basement theater of West Virginia Independence Hall, and seating is limited.

"We are proud to present this documentary as a complement to the state's 150th birthday celebrations," said Scott Finn, executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. "The personalized perspective of this film will draw viewers in to the drama of the politics as contrasted by the violence of the war."

Chip Hitchcock, a co-producer on the documentary, will be in attendance Wednesday along with Finn. Both will be available following the viewing for questions.

"We were very fortunate to tape re-enactors in the beautifully restored Custom House in Wheeling, where delegates from all over the state met 150 years ago to debate and create our state," Hitchcock said, noting taping also took place in downtown Beverly, W.Va.

West Virginia Independence Hall site coordinator Travis Henline plays a role in the documentary, portraying Pierpont during his time as governor of the Restored Government of Virginia.

The government was headquartered at Independence Hall, then known as the Custom House, until the end of the Civil War.

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