About Us

The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission consists of five appointed members. These commissioners have expertise and knowledge in the areas of architecture, historic architecture, archaeology, historic preservation, and local history. The JCHLC is charged with aiding the county government and its citizens in the protection and preservation of our local historic resources. The JCHLC meets at 7:00pm on the second Wednesday of every other month. Meetings are held in the Jefferson County Commission room in the basement of the Charles Town Library.

The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commissioners are:

Martin Burke, Chair, is an objects conservator. He holds degrees from University of Michigan, Shepherd University, and pursued graduate studies at George Washington University. For seventeen years he was an objects conservator at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution and for thirteen years Head Conservator at Harpers Ferry Center, National Park Service. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

H.S. Leigh Koonce, Secretary, is a lifelong resident of Jefferson County, who currently lives near Summit Point. An active writer, he has reported for both The Spirit of Jefferson and The Observer and his creative writing has appeared in a number of publications. Koonce’s areas of interest include county and state political history and the history of education in Jefferson County. At present he is working on a book length project compiling statistics and anecdotes pertaining to Jefferson County elections from 1952-2012.  He is the great-great-grandson of George Koonce, who was the first delegate to the WV House from Jefferson County, and the great-great-great grandson of John Alstadt, who was kidnapped by John Brown during his raid on Harpers Ferry.

Ben Horter, Treasurer, currently serves as the Federal Preservation Officer for the USDA/Farm Service Agency in Washington, DC.  Originally from Fairmont, WV, he received a BA in History with a minor in Anthropology from West Virginia University and a Masters of Philosophy in Celtic Archaeology from the University of Glasgow, Scotland.  He has conducted archaeological work within West Virginia off and on since the early 1990’s and has also worked throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states.  He moved back to West Virginia in 2010 and currently resides with his family in Charles Town.

Jack Hefestay is a graduate of the University of Colorado where he majored in US and European history diplomatic topics. He is a retired U.S. Navy Captain with 25 years experience active and reserve duty.  Additionally, he was also employed by several large aerospace corporations as a system engineer/integrator before retiring in 2004. After retirement Jack and his wife of over four decades settled in the region where his ancestors first laid roots in the mid-1750s.

Commissioner Term Expiration:

Ben Horter: 3/31/21

Martin Burke: 3/31/21

Jack Hefestay: 3/31/22

Leigh Koonce: 3/31/22

Vacant: 3/31/23

McKenzie Hitchcock is an AmeriCorps member serving with the Historic Landmarks Commission through the Preserve WV AmeriCorps Program and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.  She has a B.A. in both History and Classical Archaeology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2017), and a M.A in Archaeology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (2019).