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Our heritage town was featured as the lead story in the May 2017 issue of Travel and Leisure Magazine. Jennifer DePollo Horn spotted the magazine, at the airport, while travelling to a blacksmith contest and shared it with us. The article talks about the resurrection of Thomas, WV from it’s days as a poster child for Appalachian decline. The current owner of the DePollo Building, John Bright, gets credit for being the catalyst to the revival of economy and subsequent restoration that many of the old buildings are seeing. John bought the DePollo Building and opened it as the ‘Purple Fiddle’, one of the best known live music venues in the region. Visitors from Washington D.C. or Pittsburgh, PA often come to Thomas to take in the sites and spend an evening listening to many varied styles of music. As the article says ‘the Fiddle estabished Thomas’ reputation beyond the Alleghenies’. The article in the magazine speaks of the resurgence of many similar towns across America, but we are proud to say that Thomas, WV was first in the story.
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Here’s a link to a site that show off many of the places familiar to a lot of us.
There are some SoundCloud narratives that you can play and even download. They are located next to the images of the DePollo Store and have a big red player arrow on them. The first one is about the Sutton Theater, and also about Mike Ferruso. The second one is about the Purple Fiddle, once the Old DePollo Store.
Click the title after the word ‘source’ or click the “Traveling 219′ site logo below
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Here’s a slide-show of recently scanned images. Can you identify anyone? You can pause the slide-show by placing your cursor over an image, move off to let it run again. Every so often a post might be made with a slide-show of pictures that activate anyone’s memory of those we might know. For some it will be a fresh look at those who have a link to us in one way or another.
[contact-form to=’firstname.lastname@example.org’ subject=’Who are they’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’List Your Answers by Slide Number’ type=’textarea’/][/contact-form]
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It was a stormy Sunday at the end of July 2016 when I made a UAV flight in Thomas West Virginia to record views of the DePollo Building, originally the DePollo Store and now the Purple Fiddle. Great grandfather Guiseppe DiPaolo, Joseph DePollo built the store and dedicated it in 1915. He raised his daughter and sons above the store and many of them also raised their families in the apartments above the store. Uncle John DePollo ran the store after his father’s death. A cornerstone of community life the store was a gathering place where many came to share the time and events of their daily lives. The Purple Fiddle, as it known now, is still a gathering place and hosts entertainment from all over. Bluegrass bands are particularly a big part of the genre that is popular at the Purple Fiddle. The Purple Fiddle has been at the forefront of the revival of Thomas, WV, an old mining town that was in decline since the 1950s. A custom made forges stainless steel and marble plaque, made by a DePollo descendant hangs in the Purple Fiddle honoring the 100 year anniversary of the building.
Many stories can be told that include the DePollo store and the daughter and sons who grew up within. The DePollo family has spread all across the United States but they always have the feeling of ‘Home’ and belonging when they return to Thomas, WV for a visit. In 2015 and 2016 the descendants held family reunions and the DePollo Building, the Purple Fiddle was an important part of those events. The twin sons of John DePollo made annual visits to the Store on his birthday and would always entertain with their band. They continued the tradition even after John’s passing. The two reunions gave an opportunity to continue the honoring of John DePollo, as well as the patriarch, Joseph DePollo and his wife Agnes and the rest of their children. Hopefully this tradition will continue into the future.
If you have a story that you’d like to write up and share on this site contact Gary DePollo to make arrangements. P.S. UAV means unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone.
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