In 1920 McDowell County honored all its armed forces with a memorial building in Welch. Several years later McDowell's black citizens petitioned the county for their own memorial. In 1927 the county appropriated $25,000, appointed Hicks as architect, and awarded the construction contract to the Bluefield firm of Boone and Eason.
Dedicated in February 1928, the memorial
For years this “liberty building” served as a living memorial, housing an African American community center and an American Legion Post. With the loss of area population in the 1970s, it ceased to be used, and in 1986 the county commissioners decided to sell it at auction. The proposal to sell a public memorial to private buyers received adverse publicity, and the project, along with the building, was abandoned. A disastrous fire in 1991 left it a ruined shell, although enough of the walls and monumental columns remain to affirm its architectural and historical significance. In a sense, its ruined condition makes it appear a more appropriate war memorial, at least architecturally, than when it was in its prime, though there are plans to restore it.