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Portion of Charleston street could be renamed

Charleston’s first local historic district may see a name change on one of its streets to honor two notable Charlestonians.

Anthony Kinzer, who heads the West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture, requested changing the name of two blocks of Lewis Street in the Block Historic District to John Norman Street.

The Municipal Planning Commission unanimously approved the request at its meeting Wednesday.

Current residents of that section of Lewis Street, which runs behind Garnet Adult Education Center, signed a street name petition in support of the change.

Kinzer said the change would help “further enhance the area to make it a historically significant part of our city.”

The change would honor both John C. Norman Sr. and John Norman Jr. The former was the second African-American to become a licensed architect in West Virginia in 1922, designing buildings such as Staats Hospital. His son graduated from Garnet High School in 1946 as class valedictorian and went on to become an internationally known surgeon for his work in helping to develop the artificial heart.

Block Historic District boasts five sites that are a testament to Charleston’s African-American history, including the Mattie V. Lee Home and Elizabeth Harden Gilmore House. The historic district consists of three blocks from Washington Street East northward to Smith Street, and Leon Sullivan Way westward to Capitol Street.

The matter will now go before the Planning Committee for approval.

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