Paul Zuros wears many hats in his new role as the executive director for the historical Craik-Patton House on Kanawha Boulevard. Zuros joked that if those hats had names the list would include “house guide, historian, event planner, bookkeeper, gardener, spokesperson, preservationist, manager” and more.
“My job is basically, pretty much everything. I work in everything from the finances to being here hosting events,” he said. “[I am] giving tours of the area, helping when the garden needs work …, meeting with folks, building programming and taking the lawn mower when it needs to get serviced.
“My job is all encompassing. It’s a lot, but I’m very excited,” he said.
Zuros assumed his new position May 29. He replaces the house’s first full-time director Bri Jackson. Jackson served as executive director for two years and recently moved to Alabama with her husband.
“We’re really fortunate for the work Bri did,” he said. Zuros said during Jackson’s directorship she was able to grow the volunteer base tremendously.
He added, “We have a very strong board of directors who are very interested in the house and very active volunteers. This house couldn’t operate without their help. We just couldn’t move this house forward without volunteers.”
After only two months on the job, Zuros, 26, has many plans for the property.
“We want to be a conduit of helping visitors experience American history in a fun and engaging way. We really want them to be a part of the story here,” he said.
To encourage greater visitation, Zuros is building public programming to host a lecture series on the property. “We would love to host lectures on American history topics and preservation … . We also want to bring in traveling exhibits to the site” to encourage more people to stay interested and involved with the house.
He said he also wants to encourage school groups from around the state to visit the house.
“Whenever we have visitors to the house, they really come first,” he said.
Zuros said he can adapt the tour to meet any group’s needs and to make the house’s history come to life.
The Craik-Patton House was built in 1834 by lawyer James Craik and family in what was then Charleston, Virginia. After the Craiks moved to Kentucky in the 1840s, the house welcomed its second famous occupant, George S. Patton, also a lawyer, and his family. Zuros said Patton was the grandfather to the famous World War II Army General, George S. Patton, Jr.
Originally located on Virginia Street, the house moved in a single piece to Lee Street in the early 1900s. It was purchased in the 1970s by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America In The State of West Virginia for $1. The home was separated into three pieces and reconstructed in its current home at Daniel Boone Park on Kanawha Boulevard.
Zuros said he first learned about the Craik-Patton in the eighth grade when he was studying for the Golden Horseshoe Test. His studying paid off as he received the prestigious award.
Ironically, Zuros said he first learned about the Craik-Patton House around the time that he discovered his passion for West Virginia history. As an eighth grader at Weir Middle School in Weirton, West Virginia, Zuros was studying for the Golden Horseshoe Test. Zuros won the prestigious award and his passion for history took off from there.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with a minor in public relations and Italian studies from West Virginia University in 2009. He graduated from Duquesne University’s Public History Graduate Program in 2012 and joins the Craik-Patton House after working at the Carnegie Science Center for three years.
“I just really wanted to learn the history of the land. The history of what had come before us,” Zuros said.
“This house was here way before West Virginia became a state. Part of the history of this house is the story of what was happening around it. It survived through the Civil War. It survived through becoming a state. It survived through two moves.
“I want visitors to really feel the history and I want it to come alive for them.”
The Craik-Patton House and grounds, excluding the museum, is available to rent for various events, ranging from organizational meetings to weddings. Visiting hours run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment on weekends.
To learn more about the house, visit www.craik-patton.org or check out the house on Facebook.
Reach Anna Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.