Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Supplement to The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register Sunday, June 30, 2019
2 - Supplement To The SUNDAY NEWS-REGISTER - Wheeling, W.Va. - Sunday, June 30, 2019
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
The late Doc Williams, who with his wife, Chickie, became a staple at the Jamboree USA shows at the Capitol Music Hall, contemplates the facility’s reopening in 2009. The facility has since returned to its original name, the Capitol Theatre.
Celebrating Wheeling’s 250 Years Table of Contents Wheeling’s History.......................5-7 Timeline of Historic Events........7-10 Lewis and Clark.............................12 National Road..........................13-14 Suspension Bridge...................15-16 Wheeling and Statehood..........17-18 Industry in Wheeling................19-21 City’s Monuments....................23-24 Wheeling Floods......................25-27 Churches of Wheeling..............29-31 Wheeling’s Parks.....................32-34 Wheeling’s Architecture...........35-36 Wheeling’s Neighborhoods......37-38
The Madonna of the Trail.
Bridge Blast at the Suspension Bridge.
ON THE COVER The main cover photograph, a mural at WesBanco Arena, depicts Betty Zane’s run; bottom, from left, shows the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Capitol Music Hall, cranes working on barges on the Ohio River; and a train steaming into Wheeling.
Acknowledgments We would like to thank the staff at the Ohio County Public Library for their assistance with information and historic photographs contained in this publication. All the historic images, unless otherwise noted, are from the library’s collections. From our staff, Heather Ziegler and Linda Comins worked on much of the content to help mark 250 years of Wheeling, while Scott McCloskey provided the color photographs. Jesse Kovalski handled the cover design, and Mike Jones also assisted. Supplement To The SUNDAY NEWS-REGISTER - Wheeling, W.Va. - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - 3
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Top: The American Queen docks in Wheeling at the Heritage Port. Below: From left, the statue of Francis Pierpont outside West Virginia Independence Hall; Figaretti’s, a Wheeling mainstay, is shown in this mid-20th century photo; the Hancher Clock at 14th and Main streets in downtown Wheeling.
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4 - Supplement To The SUNDAY NEWS-REGISTER - Wheeling, W.Va. - Sunday, June 30, 2019
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Wheeling: ‘Place of the Skull’
Top: French explorer Celeron de Bienville, standing with the sword in his hand, claims the land currently known as Wheeling for France by burying a lead plate at the mouth of Wheeling Creek. Below: This etching depicts Betty Zane’s run with black powder to the defenders at Fort Henry in present-day Wheeling. Zane’s heroism helped the settlers defend their land.
The exact day of Wheeling’s founding is unclear, but many local historians trace it to the fall of 1769, when Ebenezer Zane, exploring the region for good land, established a claim to land along the Ohio River via “tomahawk rights” — the practice of girdling trees near the head of a spring, and then blazing the bark of the trees with the person’s initials or name.
As history tells it, Zane returned the following year with his wife Elizabeth and his brothers, and they established a town called Zanesburg, which later was renamed to the present-day Wheeling. The Shepherds, Wetzels and McCollochs joined them in this new land, establishing the first European settlement in the region. The name Wheeling is derived from a
Delaware Indian term meaning “head” or “skull,” a reference to the beheading of a party of settlers. Fort Fincastle, built in 1774, was constructed in anticipation of a Native American uprising. In 1776 it was renamed Fort Henry for patriot and statesman Patrick Henry. In September 1782, the fort was the scene of the last major battle of the American Revolution. Novelist Zane Grey’s first published work, Betty Zane (1903), depicts the legendary heroism of his ancestor, who braved gunfire to carry powder from an outlying cabin during that siege, which allowed Fort Henry to withstand the attackers. In 1795 the site was chartered as a town called Zanesburg. Two years later the county seat was moved from West Liberty to Zanesburg, which was renamed Wheeling in 1806, the same year Wheeling became a city. Wheeling grew quickly over the next few decades, and reached a level of prominence when the National Road was completed in the early 1820s, linking the city with Cumberland, Maryland, and points east. Please See SKULL, Page 6
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years SKULL, From Page 5 As the endpoint of National Road, Wheeling became a gateway to early western expansion. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was built by Charles Ellet in 1849, and lessons learned constructing the bridge were used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Rail transportation reached Wheeling in 1853 when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad connected Wheeling to Pennsylvania, Maryland and markets in the Northeast. Slavery became a big topic in Wheeling in the 1850s and 1860s, with the city fighting for the Union. The Wheeling Intelligencer, led by editor Archibald Campbell, pressed for the western part of Virginia to split from Richmond, and that started in 1861 when the Restored Government of Virginia had its provisional capital in Wheeling. The creation of West Virginia happened in Wheeling, as western Virgin-
The former Belmont Iron Works in Wheeling, Virginia.
ia leaders continued to meet through the early 1860s at the Wheeling Custom House (now West Virginia Independence Hall) and press for secession from Virginia. This happened on April 20, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed for the creation of the 35th state, West Virginia. The state fully came into existence on June 20, 1863. Wheeling served as the state capital
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from 1863-65. In the late 19th century, Wheeling was West Virginia’s industrial hub. Nails, tobacco, steel products — all were manufactured in Wheeling. As the city grew, Wheeling residents built fine houses, especially on Wheeling Island — many of them still standing, and several having been restored over the past two decades. Please See SKULL, Page 7
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Historic Events in Wheeling The city of Wheeling served as a trend-setter for much of the nation in its early years. The city has one of the most iconic and structurally significant suspension bridges in the world, which was the subject of a federal lawsuit by the state of Pennsylvania seeking to have it dismantled following its construction in 1849 because it inhibited riverboat traffic. Wheeling also served as a frontier to the west, and saw a visit from the Lewis and Clark expedition in September 1803. At the time, Meriwether Lewis described Wheeling as “a pretty considerable Village of fifty houses.” The expeditioners stayed in Wheeling for two days before continuing their westward journey. Within decades of a visit from Lewis by boat, the National Road, the nation’s first interstate highway, reached Wheeling, bringing with it a new level of prominence and growth. The road opened new paths to the west, and helped shape Wheeling’s future. The B&O Railroad reached Wheeling in the early 1850s, with the arrival of cargo and passengers by rail playing a large role in the city’s future for years to come. Wheeling continued to develop and grow through the 1800s and into the first third of the 20th century. Here is a
timeline of early events in Wheeling, provided by local historian Margaret Brennan. A highlight of events that helped shape Wheeling 1700s Aug. 13, 1749: Inscribed lead plate claiming land for France, buried at the mouth of Wheeling Creek by Celeron. 1769: Wheeling founded by Ebenezer Zane April 8, 1777: County (Ohio) Seat established at West Liberty. Sept. 1, 1777: First siege of Fort Henry begins, massacre in the cornfield. Sept. 2, 1777: Cut off from Fort Henry, Major Samuel McColloch rides to the top of Wheeling Hill and leaps over a precipice to avoid being captured by Indians. Sept. 11, 1782: Final siege of Fort Henry begins. This siege is called, by some historians, the last battle of the Revolutionary War. Sept. 12, 1782: Betty Zane, with gunpowder in apron, makes her famous run for the relief of Fort Henry. Oct. 1, 1794: John Finley becomes Wheeling’s first postmaster. Please See EVENTS, Page 8
The Stone Bridge in Elm Grove is shown from 1888. The picture was taken from the Elm Grove Fire House.
SKULL, From Page 6 The city also has the largest collection of Victorian-era homes anywhere in America. Wheeling’s parks — Oglebay Park and Wheeling Park — are among the top municipal parks in the nation, with Oglebay Park serving as a tourist destination as well as a point of pride for local residents.
Larger than Central Park in New York, Oglebay features a zoo, the Mansion Museum, skiing, golf, nature walks and numerous other amenities. Wheeling also became known throughout much of the 20th century from the Jamboree USA shows at the Capitol Music Hall downtown, as listeners throughout the eastern United States and parts of Canada could pick up the radio broadcast
Today, Wheeling is serving as a center for health care and back-office operations. City leaders are focused on revitalizing the downtown in an attempt to bring people back into the city’s central business district for food, drink and entertainment. The development of Wheeling’s Heritage Port has gone a long way toward that end, with shows and festivals each weekend through the summer.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years EVENTS, From Page 7 Dec. 27, 1797: Wheeling designated the county seat of Ohio County by the Virginia Legislature. 1800-1820 Jan. 16, 1806: Wheeling is incorporated as a town by the Virginia Legislature. March 29, 1806: Congress approved the proposed construction of the National Road. March 5, 1807: First issue of Wheeling’s first newspaper, the Wheeling Repository, appears. July 4, 1808: “The day we celebratate — Hail it ye sons of Freedom, rejoicing in the sweets of patriotic harmony, social friendship and national liberty” toast the Wheeling Infantry 1808 (Independence Day). Dec. 15, 1811: The “New Orleans,” the first steamboat of the western waters, arrives. Oct. 10, 1814: Linsly Military
National Road through Mount Calvary is shown in this photograph.
Institute chartered as the “Lancastrian Academy.” Feb. 17, 1816: Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Co. incorporated by the Virginia Legislature. May 12, 1816: Launching at Wheel-
ing of Henry Shreve’s the “Washington,” the prototype of practically all succeeding steamboats to ply the inland river. Oct. 7, 1816: The Wheeling built steamboat “Washington” arrives in New Orleans for the first time. Aug. 1, 1818: Wheeling receives mail via the National Road for the first time. 1821-1850 May 24, 1825: Lafayette arrives in Wheeling on his tour of the United States. March 2, 1831: Wheeling declared a port of entry. March 11, 1836: Wheeling is incorporated as a city by the Virginia Legislature. April 10, 1839: Cornerstone laid for the courthouse which stood on the site now occupied by the Board of Trade building. Please See EVENTS, Page 9
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years cade the newspaper would step forward to lead the charge toward statehood in March 19, 1847: Wheeling and Bel- West Virginia, culminating with the mont Bridge Co. charter revived and split of Virginia and the creation of the amended, permitting the construction 35th state on June 20, 1863. of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. Jan. 13, 1853: First passenger train Oct. 20, 1849: First official carriage arrives in Wheeling. crossing of the Wheeling Suspension 1853: Sisters of St. Joseph arrive Bridge. in Wheeling, and take charge of new Nov. 17, 1849: Wheeling Suspension Catholic hospital (Wheeling Hospital) Bridge opened to traffic with much established by the Roman Catholic fanfare. Diocese. March 18, 1850: Wheeling Gas Co. May 17, 1854: Suspension Bridge is incorporated by the Virginia Legisblown down in a “terrific storm” that lature. This company made electricity left only eight of its 12 cables unfrom gas for lighting. scathed. 1851-1875 Aug. 4, 1854: Congress approves the March 24, 1851: Ritchietown is in- construction of the U.S. Custom House corporated by the Virginia Legislature at Wheeling. as the “Town of South Wheeling.” March 22, 1859: The new U.S. CusAug. 24, 1852: The Wheeling Daily tom House is open for business. Intelligencer first issue. Within a deApril 19, 1861: Hearing that Governor Letcher had ordered seizure of the U.S. Custom House, 400 Wheelingites turned out to defend it. May 1861: First Wheeling Convention is convened June 11, 1861: The Second Wheeling Convention is convened. June 17, 1861: Second Wheeling Convention adopts the “Declaration of the People of Virginia.” July 2, 1861: Establishment of the Restored Government of Virginia in Wheeling. Nov. 15, 1861: First Thanksgiving proclamation of the Restored Government of Virginia issued by Gov. Pierpont. May 13, 1862: Virginia Legislature A B&O locomotive steams into Wheeling in the late 1800s. (in Wheeling) gives assent to formation
EVENTS, From Page 8
West Virginia’s First State Capitol, in Wheeling.
of West Virginia. Dec. 31, 1862: President Lincoln signs the bill admitting West Virginia to the Union. May 28, 1863: First vote by secret ballot in Wheeling. June 20, 1863: West Virginia becomes the 35th state in the Union. July 9, 1863: The Wheeling Register begins publication. Sept. 30, 1863: Theater seats are removed from Athenaeum (referred to as the “Lincoln Bastille” by secessionists) so that the entire building could be used as a federal prison. July 1, 1866: Opening of the Citizens Railway Co. in Wheeling. July 11, 1873: The Intelligencer reports the renaming of the streets. Monroe Street, for example, became 12th Street. Please See EVENTS, Page 10
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years EVENTS, From Page 9 1876-1900 Feb. 25, 1878: Opening of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad (Wheeling division). Sept. 13, 1882: First practical demonstration of electric lights in Wheeling. April 17, 1885: National Gas Co. of West Virginia obtains city franchise to lay pipes in the city street to conduct natural gas for heating. March 15, 1888: First run of the “Geraldine,” Wheeling’s first trolley car. Feb. 18, 1891: Ohio River crests at 44 feet 11 inches. 1900-1960 June 5, 1914: New Hotel Windsor opens. July 1928: Oglebay Park established from estate of Earl W. Oglebay. Dec. 13, 1926: WWVA begins broadcasting. March 19, 1936: Ohio River crests at 55.2 feet. Feb. 9, 1950: Sen. Joseph McCarthy delivers his “Enemies from Within” speech in Wheeling. Sept. 25, 1954: Wheeling College, which would come to be known as Wheeling Jesuit College and then Wheeling Jesuit University, founded.
Wheeling residents gather at Oglebay Park to watch an equestrian show.
Sept. 8, 1955: Fort Henry Bridge spanning Ohio River opens to traffic. Nov. 19, 1956: The redecking (with steel) of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge begins.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
‘A Pretty Considerable Village’ Wheeling residents experienced an historic visit in 1803 when famed explorer Meriwether Lewis stopped in the city on his way to meet William Clarke during their trip across the new nation. Lewis set out from Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, 1803, and later met Clark in Clarksville, Indiana. It took the pair a little more than two years to reach the Pacific. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, “The hundred miles from Pittsburgh to Wheeling were extremely difficult because of low water and an abundance of driftwood on the Ohio River. When he finally arrived at Wheeling, Captain Lewis described it as ‘a pretty considerable Village of fifty houses.’ The party rested for two days during which time Lewis met Dr. William Patterson, the owner of the
This drawing of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their journey.
largest collection of medicines west of the mountains. As he set out from Wheeling, Lewis found the Ohio broader and deeper and lined on both banks with hardwoods. Just below Wheeling, he stopped at an Indian earth mound (Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville) and described it in great detail in his
journal. “The trip down the Ohio was a practice run for the rest of the trip. To determine whether the Missouri country to which they were headed could sustain a population comparable to the Ohio River country, Lewis took notes on rainfall, temperature, kinds of timber and vegetation, and farming techniques as he descended the river. When he reached the army outposts on the lower Ohio (beyond the border of present West Virginia), Captain Lewis was authorized to enlist 12 men to join the expedition.” Among them was Sergeant Patrick Gass, a West Virginian whom Lewis later praised for his faithful service, diligence, and integrity. Gass’s journal, which his captain instructed him to keep, became the first published account of the expedition.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
National Road Puts City on Map
TOP: At left, a toll house along National Road in Wheeling. Right, traffic on National Road where it climbs Wheeling Hill. BELOW: An unobstructed view of the S Bridge along National Road as it enters Wheeling from Triadelphia.
Wheeling’s prominence as a city grew in the 1820s with the completion of the National Road, opening a new path to the west. Congress authorized construction of the road from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling in 1806. It served as the first federally funded highway, and provided a new route over the Appalachian Mountains. President Thomas Jefferson appointed a commission to oversee the surveying of the new route in 1802 for what is now termed “America’s first interstate highway.” Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin oversaw financing of the road, and workers consisting of Irish and English immigrants started work in 1811. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, mail service to Wheeling began in 1818, a few years before construction was complete. The cost to build the 131-mile route was $1.7 million. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, “Officially designated as the Cumberland Road, the highway crossed the rugged mountains of western Maryland before leveling out and taking a general northwesterly course through the
Pennsylvania countryside to Ohio County, (West) Virginia. Following the valley of Wheeling Creek, it passed Roney’s Point, Triadelphia, and Elm Grove to its western terminus on the Ohio River. Wheeling’s strategic position at the confluence of river and road led to its rapid growth as a major inland port for goods and passengers moving between the east and west. A river ferry connected Wheeling with Zane’s Trace, an important post road across southern Ohio to Limestone (now Maysville), Kentucky. Part of the trace later became incorporated into the western extension of the National Road laid out and built in the 1820s–30s through Ohio and Indiana to Vandalia, Illinois. “Heavy freight wagons and livestock clogged the highway and rapidly destroyed the roadbed east of Wheeling. Project management passed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1825 as federal interest in the highway lagged in light of decreasing appropriations and increasing competition from railroads and canals.” Please See MAP, Page 14
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years MAP, From Page 13 As a result, the federal government agreed to overhaul the roadbed, construct a series of tollhouses, and give the road to the states for operation as a turnpike. In total, the government spent $6.8 million to repair the road from Cumberland to Vandalia. After the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad reached Wheeling in the 1850s, the National Road entered a period of decline that lasted until the automobile era when it was incorporated into U.S. 40. “Constructed in 1817, the stone arch bridge at Elm Grove carries the National Road over Little Wheeling Creek and is the oldest bridge in the state. The other historic bridge associated with the National Road in West Virginia is the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which opened in 1849, and carries traffic over the Ohio River. “Although modern Interstate 68 has superseded it, the National Road sur-
The Bridge Hotel sat at the corner of Main and 10th streets in downtown Wheeling, where the Suspension Bridge carries National Road onto Wheeling Island.
vives as a scenic byway that offers a slower-paced alternative for travelers who wish to experience the 200-year history of America’s first federal high-
way. In 2002, the 16-mile stretch of National Road that passes through West Virginia was designated as the state’s first All-American Road.”
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
The Wheeling Suspension Bridge, built in 1849.
A Marvel of ‘Modern’ Engineering
The Wheeling Suspension Bridge, an early engineering marvel, remains today as the crown jewel of the city’s Ohio River waterfront. Marking its 170th anniversary this year, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge is designated as a National Historic Landmark and a National Engineering Landmark. According to a representative of Historic Bridges, “It has been described as the oldest vehicular suspension bridge still in operation.” Connecting downtown Wheeling and Wheeling Island, the bridge continues to serve pedestrian and vehicular traffic, albeit with a weight limit for motor vehicles. The West Virginia Department of Transportation, which now owns and maintains the bridge, has spent millions of dollars to restore, rehabilitate, stabilize and preserve the span in recent decades. Regarding the span’s significance, one writer said the bridge “stands as a symbol of technological progress in the midst of the industrial revolution. It is the crowning achievement of a brilliant man whose reputation was late in emerg-
ing from the shadows of obscurity, Charles Ellet Jr.” At the time of its construction in 1849, the Wheeling span was the world’s largest suspension bridge. The bridge, as part of the National Road, provided an important link in Wheeling’s role as a gateway to the West. The bridge was designed by Ellet, a civil engineer. The bridge’s existence, however, was not without controversy. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania — seeking to protect commercial interests in Pittsburgh — filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court, contending the bridge hindered navigation on the Ohio River. Steubenville native Edwin M. Stanton represented Pennsylvania in an 1849 lawsuit against the Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., arguing that the new bridge’s low height would prevent tall steamboats from reaching Pittsburgh and harm the city’s role as a major port. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Stanton in 1852, but the bridge company convinced Congress to designate the route national post road. Please See MARVEL, Page 16
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years MARVEL, From Page 15
FORWARD & NO RETREAT The Linsly School is proud to be part of Wheeling’s 250 years of history. Established in 1814 before West Virginia was a state, Linsly’s rich history dates back 200 years as the oldest college preparatory school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Proud of our rich heritage and deep roots in the city of Wheeling, Linsly today is a college preparatory school for grades 5-12 promoting academic excellence, inspiring lifelong learning, developing future leaders and emphasizing character development.
Stanton argued Congress had no authority to overturn the Supreme Court decision, but the court ruled against him in 1856. Meanwhile, Mother Nature also was interfering with the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. In May 1854, stong winds overturned the bridge’s deck and broke many of its cable anchorages. When the bridge was rebuilt, guy wires were installed to control wind effects. An article from the American Society of Civil Engineers stated, “In the early 1870s, auxiliary stay cables were added to strengthen the bridge according to a design by Washington Roebling. This effectively ‘Roeblingized’ the appearance of the bridge suspension system, although the main cables and the vertical suspenders remained unaltered. Over the next 80 years, other improvements were made to the bridge to enable it to keep pace with changing traffic conditions.” Emory Kemp, an expert on historic bridges and buildings, composed the National Register nomination for the Wheeling Suspension Bridge and provided assistance with the Historic American Engineering Record’s documentation of the bridge. Kemp, a retired professor at West Virginia University, and the late Beverly Fluty of Wheeling wrote a detailed book about the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the bridge a National Engineering Landmark on June 21, 1969. The National Park Service designated it a National Historic Landmark on July 4, 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. Here are some interesting facts about the bridge, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers: ∫ The span is 1,010 feet from tower to tower. ∫ The flooring is supported by 12 iron cables suspended from the towers. ∫ The cables are anchored to masonry walls built under Main Street. ∫ The cables rest on cast iron rollers that adapt to cable movements caused by changes in temperature or transitory loads. ∫ The strength of the bridge was sufficient to resist 297 tons, or 32 heavily-laden road wagons, 192 horses and 500 people.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Wheeling and W.Va. Statehood When debate erupted in Wheeling in 1861 on the issues of loyalty to the Union and formation of a new loyal state, the U.S. custom house became the center of action for the next two years. The custom house, built only two years before the Civil War began, is now a National Historic Landmark known as West Virginia Independence Hall. The restored building is recognized as the birthplace of the 35th state. The 170th anniversary of the custom house’s construction is being marked this year. People from northwestern Virginia began considering their fate after the rest of the Old Dominion seceded from the Union and became part of the newly-formed Confederate States of America in early 1861. That debate focused naturally on Wheeling — the biggest, most prosperous city in that part of Virginia — and, also quite naturally, the custom house became the center for debate and decision-making regarding statehood. Prior to the outbreak of war, Wheeling’s place as a center of commerce and as a vibrant, thriving western Virginia city was well-established. The city was a hub of transportation located along the Ohio River with a thriving port; the National Road passed through Wheeling and the city was the western terminus of the newly-completed B&O Railroad line. Dr. David Javersak, a Wheeling historian and a professor emeritus of his-
Statehood is debated in Wheeling at the Wheeling Custom House.
tory at West Liberty University, noted that Wheeling was “in 1860, the state’s largest city west of the Blue Ridge, the fourth largest in Virginia and the 63rd most populous city in the United States.” In an article concerning the formation of the 35th state, Javersak concluded, “If there had not been a Civil War, there never would had been a West Virginia; if the Wheeling Conventions had been delayed, even by a few months, there would be no West Virginia; and if all the counties currently in the Mountain State had had a voice in the proceedings and ratifications, there would not be a West Virginia. Finally, in this writer’s opinion, if those conventions had met somewhere else, there would be no West Virginia. Wheeling is rightly called the birthplace of West Virginia ...” West Virginia Historian Laureate
Ronald L. Lewis said the custom house was the logical place to hold the statehood meetings and to serve as the headquarters for the Restored Government of Virginia. The building was a safe haven in a time of war, particularly a war that was rending the nation. “It was already federal property, and federal troops could march across the river (to Wheeling),” Lewis said regarding the custom house. Lewis, a professor emeritus at West Virginia University, added, “It (the custom house) is safe. It’s one of the few places that’s safe for a while.” By the time of the Civil War, Wheeling was “identifiable as a region,” with an industrial base and a growing population fueled by a wave of immigration, Lewis said. Please See STATEHOOD, Page 18
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years STATEHOOD, From Page 17 The Intelligencer, led by pro-Union Editor Archibald Campbell as a strong voice for statehood, also was situated in Wheeling, he noted. Erected as a federal custom house in 1859, the building, located on the corner of 16th and Market streets, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Illustrations depicting the convention sessions held in the custom house’s third-floor courtroom appeared in Harper’s Weekly during that period, as readers across the country learned of the events taking place in Wheeling. Another famous illustration from Harper’s Weekly depicted the scene outside the custom house on June 20, 1863, when West Virginia became a state. When West Virginia became a state, the new state offices were established at 1413 Eoff St. in a structure now known as First State Capitol Building. The Restored Government of Virginia continued to maintain a presence in the custom house for about a year, before moving its offices to Alexandria, Va. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the hall is operated as a museum by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. West Virginia Independence Hall.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
From left, an aerial view of Bloch Bros. Tobacco; cut nails from LaBelle Nail; and John Frew and Archibald Campbell, owner and editor, respectively, of The Intelligencer in the 1860s.
Wheeling: Titan of Early Industry
On Aug. 24, 1852, The Wheeling Intelligencer published its first edition in the growing city, and within a decade the newspaper would take the lead in calling for the western portion of Virginia to form its own state. Under Editor Archibald Campbell, The Intelligencer was the only daily newspaper in Wheeling at that time. Aiming to establish “a liberal and independent journal,” Campbell took advantage of advancements in printing technology, marketing, and the availability of news by telegraph, according to historical accounts, leading the way in revolutionizing the printing and newspaper industry in Wheeling. Campbell’s political sympathies and policy of free speech provided a vehicle through which new ideas reached an area that, according to accounts, “was largely disillusioned with Virginia’s Southern Democratic leaders. Although Republicans remained a minority in northwestern Virginia, The Intelligencer was one of a handful of Virginia newspapers that supported Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 Presidential election. The Intelligencer benefited from support by the Lincoln administration in the months that followed the election — a relationship that continued through the Civil War. The Intelligencer consistently advocated the establishment of a new, non-slave state in western Virginia, though Campbell adhered to his policy of free speech, printing opposing views alongside his own. The Intelligencer’s
role in the statehood debate was, in fact, critical, as Lincoln’s support for West Virginia’s creation was in part a reward for the unionist loyalties of the men behind the movement, including Campbell, according to historical accounts on file at West Virginia University. John Frew became part owner of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer in 1866 and guided the paper for the remainder of the century. Frew continued Campbell’s emphasis on quality and objectivity in the newspaper, and he did not abandon the paper’s spirit of neutrality in its reporting. The newspaper was purchased by H.C. Ogden in 1904. Today, The Intelligencer continues as West Virginia’s oldest newspaper, “older than the state itself,” as it states daily in its masthead. The Intelligencer and its sister afternoon publication, the Wheeling News-Register, continue to serve Wheeling just as Campbell and Frew did more than 150 years ago: fair, neutral news coverage, and advocacy on issues important to local residents on the opinion page. Other significant industries that shaped Wheeling: Ziegenfelder The Ziegenfelder Co. began as a small candy store on the corner of 18th and Jacob streets in Wheeling in 1861. In the 1920s, Cloverdale Dairy, the owners at the time, began producing ice cream and frozen novelties at its Ziegenfelder plant on 18th Street.
In the 1960s, the company’s ownership switched to the Lando family of Wheeling. In the 1980s, the owners decided to focus on producing flavored ice novelties known as twin pops. Today, Ziegenfelder is the largest producer of twin pops in the United States. Its Budget Saver twin pops products are sold throughout the United States, Mexico, Caribbean region, Central America and South America. Centre Foundry Centre Foundry traces its roots to 1846, when a foundry was erected at John and Fourth streets. After the Civil War, heavy machinery was manufactured for rolling and nail mills and engines for steamboats. Specialties in 1879 consisted of cast iron fronts, window sills and fencing. In 1923, the foundry moved to its present site in Warwood to produce molds and castings, primarily for the steel industry. The foundry made castings for the Wheeling Suspension Bridge and participated in the restoration of West Virginia Independence Hall. Warwood Armature Warwood Armature Repair Co., which continues to be a leader in the electric motor industry, was established in Wheeling in 1927 to rewind armatures for coal mines and industries. As the business grew, a new building was constructed in Warwood in 1932. Please See TITAN, Page 20
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years TITAN, From Page 19 Bloch Brothers Bloch Brothers, which began as a stogie manufacturer in Wheeling, became famous for its signature chewing tobacco. Solomon Bloch arrived in Wheeling from Germany in 1840 and established a liquor distribution company. His sons, Samuel and Aaron, opened a dry goods store on Main Street between 15th and 16th streets, then added a stogie rolling business on the building’s second floor. Wheeling was one of the major centers of stogie making in the 1860s and 1870s. After a flood in 1884 destroyed the Bloch brothers’ first-floor dry goods store, they sold that part of the business and focused on the stogie business. The Blochs placed tobacco cuttings in paper bags and added licorice and sweetening agents to create a flavor. The packets were sold as chewing tobacco under the logo of West Virginia Mail Pouch. The business continued to prosper and, by 1879,
Bloch Brothers was incorporated for $2 million. When production outgrew the downtown building, the plant moved to 40th Street. The firm bought Augustus Pollack’s stogie company in the late 1930s. Over the next several years, the firm bought seven additional companies that produced chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco. By 1957, Bloch Brothers also owned a pipe manufacturing business. Sterling Drug Sterling Drug was one of the first makers of Bayer Aspirin. In 1917, when the U.S. government seized property owned by enemy aliens, Sterling Products was able to purchase American Bayer Co. Sterling then produced Bayer Aspirin and other products. Sterling merged with several other companies over the years. In the 1920s and thereafter, the firm controlled a major portion of the worldwide aspirin market. In the 1980s, Sterling Drug Co. was sold to Eastman Kodak and later to Miles (subsequently known as Bayer).
LaBelle Nail Factory Wheeling’s historic LaBelle Nail Factory, which ceased operations in 2010, produced its signature cut nails for nearly 160 years. Isaac Freese and his brother, Daniel Freese, founded LaBelle in the mid-1800s. With Wheeling known as the “nail city” by 1875, LaBelle became a nationally significant company. The factory used “19th-century technology well into the 20th century,” said historian Bekah Karelis of Wheeling. Wheeling Corrugating Co. Wheeling Corrugating Co., formed in 1890, coated sheet steel with zinc to protect it from rust and then corrugated the steel to increase its strength or rigidity. Later, Wheeling Corrugating diversified into light metal products. After World War I, it became apparent that a combination of metal-producing interests would solve many problems, avoid duplication and prove profitable. Wheeling Steel Corp. then was formed. Please See TITAN, Page 21
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years TITAN, From Page 20 Wheeling Steel Wheeling Steel Corp. was organized in 1920, as the successor to three corporations previously engaged in the steel business. It combined the LaBelle Iron Works, Whitaker-Glessner Co. and the Wheeling Steel and Iron Co. The general offices were located in the 12-story Schmulbach Building on Market Street. In the late 1960s, Wheeling Steel Corp. merged with Pittsburgh Steel Corp. to form Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. Hazel Atlas Glass The Hazel Atlas Glass Corp. was a local company that grew to become one of the largest glass container manufacturers in the world. Tableware was added to the company’s product line in the 1930s and is often collected as Depression-era glass. Wheeling Tile Co. Wheeling Tile Co.’s products were used in New York City subway stations and graced some of the largest buildings in the nation. The firm was formed when two companies merged. Its third plant was located in an old brewery. The company operated a huge plant with three main buildings covering several blocks between 31st and 33rd streets in South Wheeling. Wheeling Stamping Nail City Lantern Co. opened in 1877 in downtown Wheeling. After operating at several sites, the factory moved to 2106-2116 Water St. in 1892. The firm became Wheeling Stamping
Schmulbach Brewing bottle cap.
Co. in 1897. Warwick China Warwick China Co. produced china in a factory at 2140 Water St. from 1887 to 1951. The company was noted for its Ioga line and specialized in brown glazed pieces with portraits of Indians, monks and fraternal emblems. Wheeling Pottery Co. Wheeling Pottery Co., formed in 1879, produced both functional lines and decorative pieces. The firm remained in business until 1908. The company, which employed 1,200 people, operated the La Belle plant at 31st and Wood streets and the adjacent South Wheeling plant at 31st and Chapline streets.
Stifel Calico Works German immigrant Johann Ludwig Stifel opened a small cloth dyeing shop in Wheeling in 1835. Later, he opened a larger calico shop at Ninth and Main streets. His two sons joined the company in 1859. J.L. Stifel and Sons had grown into one of the nation’s largest calico printing establishments by 1874. The calico works later was moved to a site on Main Street between Third and Fourth streets. The company produced war-related material during World War I and World War II. Reymann Brewing Co. Anton Reymann, who was born in Germany in 1837 and arrived in Wheeling in 1853, opened Reymann Brewing Co. in 1865. This brewery was located in the Manchester section of East Wheeling. His company became the largest brewery in West Virginia, reportedly producing more than 150,000 barrels of beer a year. Reymann purchased Thomas Hornbrook’s estate and operated it as Wheeling Park, which he patterned after a German beer garden. The amusement park, complete with a casino, served Reymann’s beer and became a popular recreational destination. Schmulbach Brewing Co. Henry Schmulbach was a prominent Wheeling businessman and innovative brewery founder in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Parts of his brewery remain standing in South Wheeling. Schmulbach, who was born in Germany in 1844, worked on packet boats in Wheeling as a teenager.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Monuments Highlight City History As the new city grew, so did its desire to memorialize its history. This happened in Wheeling through the establishment of monuments scattered across the hillsides — with many of those positioned along National Road. Here are some of the most notable monuments: Madonna of the Trail On National Road just outside the entrance to Wheeling Park stands a mountain of a lady. The Wheeling Madonna of the Trail stands 18 feet tall and is made of poured algonite stone, a mixture of crushed marble, Missouri granite, stone, cement and lead ore. The artist August Leimbach created 12 identical Madonna of the Trail monuments and they are located throughout the country along the National Road from Cumberland, Maryland to Upland, California. All of the statues embody the pioneer woman spirit when this country was being developed. The statue depicts a pioneer woman in period dress of a long dress and bonnet. The monuments were commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. The monument was presented to the Wheeling Park Commission in the early 1930s. The Doughboy Not far from the Madonna monument rests the Doughboy statue atop a hill in Wheeling Park. The Doughboy replicates an Amer-
The Augustus Pollack monument.
ican soldier during World War 1 and was designed by sculptor Ernest Moore “E. M.” Viquesney. The pressed copper statue was forged at McCurdy’s Monument Works in Wheeling, and shows a soldier with rifle in one hand and grenade in the other. The Wheeling statue was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1931.
McColloch’s Leap Also located along the National Road is a granite and bronze monument near the crest of Wheeling Hill which marks the site of famed Indian fighter Samuel McColloch’s famous leap. McColloch reportedly escaped an Indian attack on horseback by jumping, horse and all, over the steep incline. The monument was erected by the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in West Virginia in 1917. Mingo Not to be outdone by the Indian fighter, a Native American of the early settler days is remembered in the statue known simply as “Mingo.” This impressive bronze figure was presented to the City of Wheeling in 1928 by the Kiwanis Club and George W. Lutz. An inscription on the statue reads: “The Mingo. The original inhabitant of this valley extends greetings and peace to all wayfarers.” Mingo extends his right arm as a welcome to visitors to Wheeling. The statue is tribute to the Mingo Indians, a detached band of the Iroquois Confederation which included the Delaware, Shawnee, Cayuga, Seneca and Mohawk people. The Mingo lived in the area until the 1800s. Augustus Pollack Monument Wheeling businessman Augustus Pollack was immortalized via a 60,000-pound granite monument in 1916. Please See HIGHLIGHT, Page 24
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years HIGHLIGHT, From Page 23 As an industry leader, Pollock operated a union company and the Ohio Valley Trades and Labor Assembly made the monument a reality. The cost — $8,7000 — was raised solely by organized labor contributions. The monument depicts the figures of a worker and an employer clasping hands in front of a slender fluted Corinthian column, atop which stands an eagle with outstretched wings. The monument resides at Heritage Port. Walter Reuther Monument Wheeling native Walter P. Reuther (1907-1970) was one of the most innovative, influential and charismatic labor leaders of the 20th century. In 1946, Reuther became the president of the United Auto Workers and in 1952, was tapped as president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Under Reuther’s leadership, the autoworkers’ standard of living doubled. His monument is at Heritage Port. The Aviator The Aviator statue on the campus of The Linsly School was commissioned by Mrs. Louis Bennett whose only son, Louis Bennett Jr., was killed in World War I. The front of the statue reads, “Ready To Serve — To the glorious memory of all Americans who sacrificed their lives in the World War, 1914-1918.” The back of the statue reads: “Gift of Mrs. Louis Bennett whose only son Louis
From left, The Aviator monument at The Linsly School; the Doughboy at Wheeling Park; and the monument at the top of Wheeling Hill marking McColloch’s Leap.
Bennett, Jr. “Yale 1917” was captain of the West Virginia Flying Corps which he organized at Wheeling. He was killed in action August 24th 1918, while serving as Lieutenant 40th Squadron Royal Air Force in France.” Soldiers and Sailors Monument The Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Monument has found a permanent home. First dedicated in 1883 at 16th and Chapline streets, the monument was moved to a temporary location near the current Hampton Inn on National Road before being placed on Linsly’s campus for a short time. It 1955, it was moved again to Wheeling Park, where it sat for the next 62 years until being moved to its current location adjacent to West Virginia Independence Hall at 16th and Market streets.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Left, downtown Wheeling during the 1936 flood, which hit 55.2 feet. Right, Wheeling Island during the flood of 1884.
Life Along a River Always Wet Since the very beginning, Wheeling has en- Highest Ohio River Levels even today accommodates the modern needs of joyed a complicated relationship with the Ohio transportation and industry,” according to the River. Recorded at Wheeling bicentennial tab. The city’s more western location along the rivThe river originally known to the natives as 1936 — 55.2 feet er compared to Pittsburgh made it a strategic poO-hee-yuh and later called La Belle Riviere by 1884 — 53.4 feet sition for trade. It also made it ripe for flooding. the French has offered commerce and transpor1942 — 51.5 feet Dr. Francois Michaux, a French naturalist who tation opportunities for Wheeling. visited Wheeling in 1802, suggested that there But it’s also been the cause of regular flood1913 — 51.1 feet was an “advantage to eastern traders of shipping ing. One flood in 1811 ripped pumpkins from 1907 — 50.1 feet their wares to Wheeling rather than to Pittsburgh a nearby patch along the river, causing the orbecause of more reliable navigation facilities,” ange gourds to bob downstream, according to according to the 1969 Wheeling Bicentennial magazine. an undated historical tab published by the First National Indeed, Capt. Meriwether Lewis traveled down the Ohio Bank of Wheeling. River from Pittsburgh in the fall of 1803 and stopped in “At first, the river toyed with the town,” the tab wrote Wheeling to stock up on supplies as he made his way down of the Halloween flood. But more significant flooding ocriver to meet his counterpart Capt. William Clark in Louis- curred in 1832 when the river swelled and covered the isville, Ky., for their westward adventure to explore the Loui- land, prompting Daniel Zane and his family to evacuate on a siana Purchase. horse-propelled ferry. “The river attracted the Red Man — later the White — and Please See WET, Page 26
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years WET, From Page 25 The family and horses made it safely to the 12th Street wharf, but the equines soon dropped dead of exhaustion, according to the publication. The publication refers to numerous “minor skirmishes” with the city until 1884 when the river crested at 53.4 feet. That level of water covered Wheeling Island, destroyed the new Exposition and damaged hundreds of homes. But the worst flood in the city’s history is thought to have occurred in 1936 when the river rose above 55 feet — the highest crest on record — leaving downtown under 3 feet of water. That caused Wheeling to be “isolated, according to the Wheeling News-Register. The Ohio River has crested above 50 feet on three other occasions in recorded history: 1907, 1913 and 1942. Please See WET, Page 27
Half of the main floor of this home at Ohio and Front streets on Wheeling Island sits under water during the 1907 flood, which crested at 50.1 feet.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
ABOVE: The March 19, 1936 flood edition of the Wheeling News-Register shows the city’s plight. BELOW: Left, Main Street in Wheeling during the 1907 flood. Right, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church during the 1907 flood.
WET, From Page 26 Years later, the Pike Island Locks and Dam were built a few miles up river to facilitate water traffic while also maintaining better control on the level of water flow during different seasons. The locks opened in November 1963 and the dam was completed two years later, replacing Locks and Dams 10 and 11, manually operated old-style wooden wicket structures built in the early 20th century, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The river in Wheeling never again reached 50 feet, although it got close in 1964 and 1972.
The worst flooding in the past four decades occurred when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan roared up from the Gulf of Mexico and drenched the region Sept. 17, 2004. The Ohio River in Wheeling reached 47.5 feet two days later, and there was significant damage to homes and businesses near the waterfront. But that still paled in comparison to previous floods, according to one Wheeling Island resident who said he had witnessed 10 floods in more than 60 years living on Virginia Street, including the 1942 flood that crested at 52 feet. “This is a footwasher compared to that,” he told the Sunday News-Register the day after Ivan struck.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Left, the interior of St. John Evangelical Protestant Church in the late 1800s. Right, interior of St. Alphonsus Church.
Faith Helps Shape City’s History As Wheeling took shape — in size and importance — so did the population’s faith. Churches are among some of the oldest buildings in the city today, standing as testament to the role congregations of all faiths played in the city’s development and makeup. Information contained in a Wheeling Bicentennial Publication in 1969, David Jones, a Baptist missionary, made his way to a cabin near a creek called “Weeling” where he preached on the Lord’s day. There’s not much evidence to confirm nor deny this report, but it’s among the earliest mentions of religion in the Wheeling area. According to a history of churches published in the Wheeling newspapers decades ago, Presbyterians were among the first to bring organized religion to the area. In 1787, the Three Ridges and Forks of Wheeling was formed. Its congregation met under an oak tree in the area we know as Stone Church Road. Accounts of the time suggest a three-side shed was built in which the minister stood and preached to members who sat in the open.
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Later in 1807, on land given by Noah Zane, the “old stone church” was constructed. Today, Stone Presbyterian Church in Elm Grove continues to serve the ancestors of those early families. Among the oldest standing buildings in Wheeling is the First Presbyterian Church at 1301 Chapline St. It has stood since 1825 as an example of the Greek Revival era with its ionic stucco and brick columns. It remains an active church in downtown Wheeling. While the church has seen various stages of remodel over the years, it remains on the The National Register of Historic Presbyterian Sites & Historical Places. However, the early Methodist faithful in Wheeling claim that Fourth Street United Methodist Church was founded in 1785. In written history provided at the Ohio County Public Library, “In the spring of 1785, the Rev. Mr. Lee became the organizer and first pastor of the church in the frontier settlement of Wheeling.” Please See FAITH, Page 30
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
As Temple Shalom marks our 170th anniversary this year, we also celebrate Wheeling’s 250th birthday! In memory of the generations of our members who have helped to build this community, and from all of us who continue their legacy today, we join with our friends and neighbors of all faiths in giving thanks for our rich history and looking forward to our shared bright future.
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Clockwise from top, Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church, Stone Presbyterian Church, St. Matthew’s Church interior and the grotto at St. Ladislaus in South Wheeling.
FAITH, From Page 29 The church was eventually erected on Chapline Street. The first Catholic church in Wheeling was built in 1821 at the corner of 11th and Chapline streets in Wheeling, although Catholics were in Wheeling as early as 1818. The church was constructed on land donated by Noah Zane and named in honor of St. James. According to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s history, the Diocese of Wheeling was established by Bishop Richard Whelan who was transferred from Richmond, Virginia to become the first bishop of the new diocese in 1850. St. James Parish in Wheeling (then State of Virginia), became St. James Cathedral. That same year, Wheeling Hospital was founded through the efforts of Bishop Whelan and Dr. Simon Hullihen. Catholic churches rose up in the various neighborhoods of the city, serving the ethnic groups who came to this country. Among the earliest were the Cathedral of St. Joseph in 1828; St. Alphonsus Parish, established in 1856; Our Lady of Seven Dolors in Triadelphia, founded in 1866; and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in 1895; and St. Michael Parish in 1897. Not to be forgotten is Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, founded by the Visitation Sisters in 1848, on property adjacent to the current Wheeling Jesuit University. Temple Shalom in Wheeling has the honor of being the oldest Jewish congregation in West Virginia. According to the written history, the Reform Temple Shalom of Wheeling is the result of the merger of several smaller congregations with Congregation L’Shem Shomayim — Hebrew, meaning for the sake of heaven — which was founded in 1849 by Jews who had immigrated from German-speaking Central European nations. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the architect of Reform Judaism in America, visited the Wheeling community in the 1850s and wrote about the experience. Please See FAITH, Page 31
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years FAITH, From Page 30 Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, one of the most influential American Zionists of the 20th century, began his rabbinate at the Eoff Street Temple, and Rabbi Jacob Rader Marcus, the father of American Jewish historical research and the founder of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, grew up in Wheeling and was confirmed at the Eoff Street Temple. Other denominations came to Wheeling and have remained steadfast in the community. Among them are St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, first established in 1819 at Market near 10th streets. Today, the church serves the community at 15th and Chapline streets where the first service there was held on Nov. 17, 1867. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was established in 1883 and rests Photo provided by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at South Penn and Ohio streets on Wheeling Island. Parishioners celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Lutherans came to the area as early as 1835. Among the Wheeling. The Cathedral, located in East Wheeling, has Lutheran churches established in Wheeling were Zion Lu- served the faithful since 1828. theran Church, 2118 Market St., established in 1850; St. ∫ St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 1867; James Evangelical Lutheran Church 1409 Chapline St., ∫ Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1897; founded in 1856; the First English Lutheran Church, 16th ∫ St. John’s United Church of Christ, mid-1830s; and Chapline streets, founded in 1859; St. Mark Luther∫ Thomson United Methodist Church, 1854; an in Elm Grove, established in 1917; Edgwood Lutheran ∫ Macedonia Baptist Church, 1881; Church at 1154 National Road, founded in 1912. Other ear∫ St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, 1875; ly churches: ∫ Wesley Methodist Church, 1850. ∫ Wheeling Christian Church, founded in 1850
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Left, the Oglebay Mansion. At right, the entrance to Wheeling Park in the 1920s.
Parks Integral Part of City’s History The Wheeling Park Commission, which operates Oglebay and Wheeling parks, is regarded as one of the finest municipal park systems in the country. Both municipal parks trace their roots to the formation of the park commission, which was established to operate Wheeling Park. The Parks System Trust Fund was created in 1945 to accept philanthropic gifts to expand the parks. The Oglebay Foundation, incorporated in 1996, functions as a nonprofit corporation to raise private funds for the two parks. Wheeling Park opened to the public on May 30, 1925, during the observance of Decoration Day (now Memorial Day). More than 10,000 people turned out that day for a band concert, picnics, playtime and other activities. Oglebay Park was established on July 28, 1928, when the city accepted the gift of the property from Cleveland industrialist Earl W. Oglebay’s estate. Wheeling Park While Wheeling Park has been a municipal facility for 94
years, the property was utilized as a park decades earlier. At the site of present-day Wheeling Park, English immigrant Thomas Hornbrook maintained 35 acres of manicured gardens, with specimen plants from all over the world, on his estate in the mid-1800s. He welcomed visitors to his property, which became known as “Hornbrook’s park.” Hornbrook was said to be a teetotaler; ironically, after his heirs sold the property, a beer garden and amusement park were established on the estate. The Wheeling Park Association, backed by Reymann Brewing Co., bought the property in 1883. Brewery owner Anton Reymann served as the association’s president. Reymann’s Wheeling Park featured a roller coaster, swimming pool, gardens and a casino where plays, operas and musical shows were staged. Famous actress Sarah Bernhardt appeared at the casino in 1905. After Prohibition was enacted in West Virginia in 1914, the complex fell into disrepair. Please See PARKS, Page 33
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Top: Wheeling Park’s casino, left, and the roller coaster. Bottom: Oglebay’s pool, and a horse show at Oglebay.
Campers head off to one of Oglebay’s summer camps, which remain popular to this day.
PARKS, From Page 32
tablish Wheeling Park with a playground, tennis courts, golf course and other sports. ∫ Nominal charges would be set for use of park amenities. ∫ A five-member, nonpartisan commission would be formed to operate Wheeling Park. Oglebay Park Earl W. Oglebay was the 14th owner of Waddington Farms. He spent 25 years developing the property as a summer estate and model farm. Two landscape architects from Pittsburgh were retained to develop a plan for the land. Naturalistic landscapes using native plants were favored. Oglebay employed 75 workers to keep his estate running. Upon his death in 1926, Oglebay willed his Waddington Farm property to the people of Wheeling “for public recreation.” City leaders accepted the gift of the property on July 28, 1928 and directed the park commission to operate the newly-named Oglebay Park. Please See PARKS, Page 34
In 1924, “two publicly-minded citizens,” Charles L. Sonneborn and H.F. Haller, bought the derelict property. The new owners “cheerfully gave up their own opportunity for personal benefit” and issued a public challenge to Otto Schenk, president of the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce, in December 1924 to come up with a use for the land. That spawned the park commission, which was the idea of W.E. Stone of Stone & Thomas. Stone gave city leaders two weeks to raise $350,000 to buy the property to serve as a city park. Stone gave $100,000; Schenk provided $50,000 and another $100,000 was pledged at a chamber meeting. In days, all of the funding had been secured. On Christmas Eve 1924, it was announced that the goal had been exceeded, with 170 pledges totaling $352,845. Significantly for the future of city parks, Stone’s gift came with some conditions: ∫ The city of Wheeling would accept the property and es-
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Supplement To The SUNDAY NEWS-REGISTER - Wheeling, W.Va. - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - 33
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Left, patrons stand above a topiary sign that reads “Wheeling Park, Don’t Forget.” At right, Wheeling residents stand in front of the fountain at Wheeling Park in this 1910 photograph.
PARKS, From Page 33 Since that time, the park has grown considerably and developed a wide range of facilities related to recreation and relaxation, drawing visitors from the local area and throughout the nation. The Winter Festival of Lights continues to be Oglebay’s biggest annual attraction.
Oglebay’s Good Zoo is the only accredited zoo in the state, while two of four accredited museums in West Virginia — Oglebay Institute’s Mansion and Glass museums — are located in the park. The National Recreation and Park Association and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums were founded at Oglebay.
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
From left, the Federal Courthouse and Post Office on Chapline Street; the Professional Building; and the residence of William F. Stifel at Ninth and Main streets are examples of some of the city’s diverse architecture.
Grand Architecture Abounds in City
Wheeling has a rich architectural heritage with each neighborhood illustrating its period in the city’s development. North Wheeling is referred to as Victorian Wheeling (1837-1901). There are magnificent structures representing Wheeling’s industrial heritage: beer making (Schmulbach), manufacturing (Wheeling Stamping now Orrick), warehousing (Boury Lofts). We have the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, the U.S. Custom House, the B&O Railroad Passenger Station, railroad tracks and trestles, and the National Road with its adjacent “suburban” neighborhoods. Here are some recognizable structures, architectural styles and National Historic Districts: Centre Market Houses — The 1853 upper building is Neo-classical with cast iron Doric columns in which every other one serves as roof drain downspouts. The 1890 red brick lower building is Neo-Romanesque. The terra cotta medallions featuring farm animals signify the use of the structure as a market house. Wheeling Island Historic District — Wheeling Island served as a residential neighborhood to downtown Wheel-
ing. The population exploded after the steel bridge connecting 10th Street to Wheeling Island was constructed, opening the island to street cars. One can find grand wood shingled Queen Anne-styled residences along Front Street next to wood framed and brick Italianate residences and then more modest but equally significant bungalow and craftsman styled homes. Neighborhoods — The East Wheeling, Center Wheeling and South Wheeling neighborhoods grew and expanded with Wheeling’s population and growth of industries. Though there are magnificent homes of business tycoons, there are blocks and blocks of more modest homes of the working classes. However, Chapline Street Row is a distinct National Historic District composed of eight buildings representing the high style of Victorian era architecture at its best located on the west side of the 2300 block of Chapline Street. Chapline Street Row is recognized as an architectural “super block.” The Woodsdale and Edgwood neighborhoods are included on the National Register. Please See ABOUNDS, Page 36
Happy 250th Anniversary
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years ABOUNDS, From Page 35 The architecture encompasses many different architectural styles from the late 19th century to mid-20th century. The streets are lined with Shingle, Queen Anne, Tudor Revival, American Foursquare, Colonial Revival and Bungalow houses. With more than 900 structures, this National Historic District is recognized as one of the most intact residential districts in the state. Of the many diverse architectural styles found in Wheeling, two distinct styles are represented by outstanding examples: Richardsonian Romanesque — There are two highly visible examples of the Romanesque style of architecture: the Professional Building at 1300 Market St. in downtown Wheeling and Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church at the intersection of W.Va. 88 and U.S. 40. The Professional Building is brick with a rusticated stone facade and features a dramatic five-story turret with a conical cap. Vance Memorial Church, located in the National Road Corridor Historic District, is constructed of stone and features an octagon sanctuary topped by a red tile roof. Both of these structures were designed by Edward Bates Franzheim of the Wheeling architectural firm of Franzheim, Giesey & Faris and embody the rusticated stone, round headed arches set on short columns and the cylindrical towers that define Romanesque architecture. Beaux Arts — Meaning “fine arts” in French, several
Wheeling’s Market House, now called Centre Market, is shown in this 1901 photograph.
structures in Wheeling identify with this refined style, most prominently the Capitol Theatre on Main Street, the former B&O Railroad Passenger Station (now West Virginia Community College’s main campus building) and the U. S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse. However, it is the Capitol Theatre that displays the lavish rich ornamental detail with garlands, scantily-clad ladies and shields that decorate so many Beaux Arts buildings. The theater was designed by Charles W. Bates, a famed Wheeling architect. (Editor’s Note: Information for this article was compiled by Hydie Friend, a Wheeling resident whose professional career has focused on using historic preservation for economic development.)
36 - Supplement To The SUNDAY NEWS-REGISTER - Wheeling, W.Va. - Sunday, June 30, 2019
Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
From left, the B&O Railroad Station along National Road in Elm Grove, 1888; the residence of J.F. Paull in Woodsdale; and a view of Edgwood from 1914, prior to being annexed into the city of Wheeling.
Wheeling and its Neighborhoods
When Wheeling’s population hit 50,000 in the early 1900s, the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce initiated the Greater Wheeling Movement to annex nearly 8 square miles of suburban territory, which added more than 20,000 new residents. The state Legislature put forth the question of annexation to the voters who approved the concept. In January of 1920, eight towns became part of the city of Wheeling, boosting its population to over 70,000. The outlying towns now part of the city included War-
wood, Fulton, Leatherwood, Woodsdale, Edgwood, Pleasant Valley, Elm Grove and Patterson. South Wheeling, known as Ritchie Town, had already joined the city. Then Chamber Manager H.P. Corcoran, in making the chamber’s point, asked, “Is it not reasonable to believe that the public-spirited, forward-looking men of both city and suburbs could make greater progress toward better things for the whole community than they now do, endeavoring to get ahead in divided municipalities?” Please See NEIGHBORHOODS, Page 38
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Wheeling: Celebrating 250 Years
Top: Residence of J.D. DuBois in Leatherwood, 1904. Bottom: An overview of Pleasant Valley from the early 1900s, prior to annexation.
NEIGHBORHOODS, From Page 37 With the annexation, Wheeling’s political wards would not total nine. Prior to the annexation, each of the eight areas had their own governing bodies. With annexation came the benefits of improved infrastructure and quality of life issues, according to proponents of the era.
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