The mountains of West Virginia have long been revered and respected for their role in shaping our history, culture and heritage. West Virginia is located in the heart of the Appalachian Region, a 200,000 square mile area that follows the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes parts of 12 states and all of West Virginia.
While the isolation of the mountains helps to preserve our state's largely unspoiled natural beauty, it can also make it difficult for our talented artists and craftspeople to gain access to the best markets in which to sell their work.
In the early 1990's Congressman Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.V.) realized that, through the use of technology, West Virginia artists and craftspeople could overcome some of these challenges and gain more exposure for their work by promoting their creations on the World Wide Web. The Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center at Wheeling Jesuit University took on that project and developed the initial web site. In November 2001, the non-profit MountainMade Foundation assumed administration of the program. In 2009, the MountainMade Foundation announced the creation of MountainMade Inc., its wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary. In creating the for-profit entity, MountainMade Foundation is spinning off its successful retail operations at the Country Store and Artisan Gallery in Thomas and at Stonewall Resort and its eCommerce website.
The Vandalia Heritage Foundation has renovated the historic structures that house the MountainMade Artisan Gallery and the Country Store in Thomas, WV., the Buxton Landstreet Building and the Peacock Building. Vandalia has embarked on a restoration and revitalization campaign for the town of Thomas, which was once a booming community built upon the prosperity of the timber, coal and railroad industries. Through the renovation of several historic structures in the area, Vandalia is creating attractive commercial real estate, rejuvenating this small-town community and preserving architectural icons for future generations.
With the assistance of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and program income generated by the sales of artisan works, the MountainMade Foundation is able to support and develop the West Virginia arts and crafts small businesses by assisting them with effective marketing of their work, expanding their businesses and increasing demand for their work, to promoting awareness of the distinctive artistic resources our state has to offer. We also strive to educate the public through heritage arts demonstrations and workshops, create jobs for West Virginia and encourage tourism to Tucker County. MountainMade Foundation considers the creation of MMI as the means by which it will become self-sustaining, further its exempt purposes and develop a strong artisan base in West Virginia. The creation of the for-profit subsidiary is a natural evolution for the MountainMade Foundation.