Mercer County Commission converts abandoned Forestry Service building into new offices

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – A historic forestry service center in Mercer County that was previously abandoned is being turned into a new space for business. 

This Forestry Service Center was abandoned in 2016. It was originally built in the early 1960s after it was proposed by John F. Kennedy. According to Bill Archer with the Mercer County Commission, the building remained in service for roughly 30 years, where at one point, as many as 60 scientists were researching forestry in the area. 

“In 1960, president Kennedy, then US Senator Kennedy was campaigning down in this area and he was moved by the people he met in Southern WV. And he wanted to provide something to really help build the economy and to do some other things,” Archer said. 

After being shut down, the county looked into acquiring it from the federal government and turning it into a space for local public agencies and businesses. They acquired it in March of 2020 and since then have been using it as extra storage space for supplies given to them during the pandemic. 

“We’re already using it to store some emergency supplies with our emergency services department. We have several pallets of things we got through the National Guard.”

Now they’re working on cleaning out the building and will soon be renting it out to whoever would benefit from the location. The Princeton Rescue Squad is thinking about setting up a new location there to give them faster response times to accidents on the interstate. 

“I met yesterday with the Princeton Rescue Squad about the possibility of bringing a satellite office here that would be closer to I-77.”

The building has more than 16,000 square feet of room. According to the County Commission, they’re hoping it will spur businesses to expand in the area and stimulate the local economy.

The Mercer County Economic Development Authority has setting up offices in the newly reopened forestry center, and is the first to do so in the new space.