FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Raymond Alvarez was appointed a new position of Fairmont-Marion County Historian.
Dr. Alvarez is a healthcare management professor at Fairmont State University, and researching historic aspects of the county is something he does for fun in his free time. However, he said healthcare and history do cross paths sometimes. For example, Fairmont State University established one of the first hospitals around the turn of the century and started one of the first schools of nursing in the 1800s.
The historian title was appointed to Dr. Alvarez by the City of Fairmont and the Marion County Commissioners. Dr. Alvarez said his work as a historian is to promote cultural tourism.
“There’s a lot of great history here in Fairmont and Marion County,” Dr. Alvarez said. “There are a lot of places that people don’t know the story of, and they can find out more information. Let’s bring people here to find out because Fairmont probably has one if not the most unique spot in history on all levels in the state of West Virginia.”
Dr. Alvarez said the area led the way in education, mining, infrastructure and healthcare in the past and a lot of people who were responsible for that are buried here.
He said one of the most interesting stories he’s uncovered is of Francis Pierpont’s role in education. Pierpont was brought a teacher here in 1868, and she became the first female principal of a state normal school in the country. Alvarez was also involved in locating and dedicating a memorial to seven bodies that were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The seven men were from Fairmont and were killed in a coal mine disaster in 1886.
“Those are just a couple of the things that really, looking back, helping celebrate the history and heritage of an organization, of a community is very important,” Dr. Alvarez said.
In the position, he will continue to verify information on history in the county. Alvarez is also a frequent lecturer for Pierpont Technical College’s LifeLong Learners and on the board of Woodlawn Cemetery working to develop it as a site for historical research and education.