Wheeling, Ohio County
Construction Date: c. 1880 - 1900
Threat: Vacancy; Neglect
2018 Update: These properties are still owned by the City of Wheeling. The City is looking into roof repairs and finding a developer. The back of one of the buildings was demolished in 2017.
2016: The endangered 1400 Block in Wheeling consists of three contiguous buildings (1425, 1429, and 1433) on the west side of Market Street in the Wheeling Historic District. The vacant buildings are located on the same block as the iconic West Virginia Independence Hall and are near the growing West Virginia Northern Community College campus. All three of the buildings have housed commercial interests on the first floors and have historically been mixed-used structures with residences on upper floors. All three of the buildings were home to some of Wheeling’s most prominent businessmen and have housed locally owned and operated businesses - including Standard Cigar Works, Wheeling Candy Kitchen, and, most famously, Zellers Steak (in the middle of the three buildings, number 1429). Zellers was owned by Wheeling’s most notorious underworld figure, “Big Bill” Lias. The first floor at the time was a legitimate restaurant, while a plush gambling casino operated on the second floor, and back rooms and upper floors supported Lias’s extensive gambling operations.
In addition to being a part of Wheeling’s fascinating past, the buildings are architecturally interesting. Number 1425 (3 stories, approximately 5300 square feet) is Italianate in design; 1429 (5 stories, approximately 13,000 square feet) is Flemish with Medieval overtones; and 1433 (3 stories, approximately 4500 square feet) is Art Deco, with the different styles undoubtedly reflecting their different eras of construction. Facades of the upper floors of each building are essentially original, while first floor “contemporary” storefronts are not true to the histories of the buildings. Renovation of these first floors would enhance the architectural value of the entire block.
The City of Wheeling acquired the buildings in 2014 and is willing to sell the properties to the right buyer with a negotiable purchasing price. Anyone interested in buying any of the three buildings should contact the City of Wheeling’s Planning Department at 304-234-3701 and ask for a copy of the City’s Request for Proposals that details the requirements to purchase the properties. Requirements include an indication of a business plan for each or all of the properties’ re-use, financing options, and a timeframe for rehabilitation.
Wheeling, Ohio County
Construction Date: 1916
March 2019 Update: The building has been demolished.
2017 Update: No updates have been made available to PAWV in 2017.
As of the last update provided to PAWV in 2016, the condition of the floors in the Kirk’s Building has worsened. At the time the owner originally purchased the building, the first floor had fallen into the basement, but the remaining floors seemed relatively stable. Currently, the floors are failing throughout the building. Additionally, the roof is failing and the subsequent water damage is immense. Wheeling National Heritage Area has been working with the owner to find a solution for the building. Multiple architecture and engineering firms have been consulted. Each firm has felt the high cost of rehabilitation would be money wasted. However, one firm believes it might be possible to preserve the building’s façade, thereby maintaining the block’s historic context. Wheeling National Heritage Area is currently seeking a buyer for the property who is interested in keeping the historic context of the block.
2014: The Kirk’s Building is an early Art Deco building located in the heart of downtown Wheeling. It is located on a gateway into the downtown district on Market Street and sits adjacent to the West Virginia’s Independence Hall. It is one of the few terra cotta buildings in Wheeling. Most recently, the building was home to Kirk’s Art Supply store. It was used in its entirety by this retailer from 1964 to 2008. For the past five years, the Kirk’s Building has been vacant and is suffering from deferred maintenance. Its ownership is in a transitional phase, as it was recently sold in a tax sale. There is a lot of support from Wheeling residents to preserve this property, and community supporters are working with the private owners to devise a plan to rehabilitate the building as a rentable commercial space.
Wheeling, Ohio County
2017 Update: Early on February 29, 2016, Wheeling’s Second Presbyterian Church suffered a catastrophic roof collapse during a period of heavy rains and high wind warnings. After the city deemed it unsafe, the 1850, Greek Revival style building was demolished. PAWV had added the vacant church to its Endangered Properties list in 2013 after a partial, less damaging roof collapse due to truss failure. Since that time, a state historic preservation grant had assisted in the roof’s repair, using local timbers and volunteer labor, while the interior had recently been cleared of debris. The church’s owner, the Near Earth Object Foundation, was preparing to transform it into an urban observatory and educational facility. Although hopes for the church’s reuse are now over, certain key elements were able to be salvaged during the demolition process, including some stained glass windows and the original church bell.
2013: The Historic Second Presbyterian Church (Ohio County) is located at 2001 Market Street in the heart of the Wheeling’s Center Market Square Historic District. The Greek Revival Church has stood at its current site since 1850 and was the heart and soul of Wheeling’s Abolitionist Movement. In February, 1865, one week after President Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery with the passing of the 13th Amendment, the Freedmen’s Association held its meeting at the church. Additionally, in 1859 the church’s Reverend Richard Dodge, a good friend of President Lincoln, organized the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), which is still popular to this day. The church is currently threatened by environmental damage since a large portion of the roof collapsed due to truss failure in the summer of 2011. The roof’s trusses were weakened decades ago after being cut and modified to hang a chandelier in the sanctuary. Now the building’s owner, Near Earth Object Foundation, is rehabilitating and preserving the historic church to reopen it for presentations, plays, and educational events, as well as an urban observatory, a project to observe and monitor Near Earth Objects that is supported by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
2012: The integrity of the East Wheeling Historic District (Ohio County) is currently threatened by the impending demolition of 34 structures located within its boundaries, primarily on 15th and 16th streets. The City of Wheeling has declared eminent domain on two streets in the district in order to clear them for the creation of a new sports complex. The dwellings in the district historically housed workers, managers, and owners of Wheeling’s steel, iron, and coal industries at the peak of Wheeling’s prosperity as a thriving river town. If the property owners can maintain control of their buildings, they have planned an adaptive reuse project that will create a recreational space with community gardens and a cafe on the interior of the two streets with some of the building facades serving as entry points to the green space. PAWV will assist technically with four specific buildings located on 15th Street: publicly-owned Civil War Twins - the oldest buildings in the potentially-razed streets and named for their period of construction; a mid-19th century, privately-owned dwelling, which serves as the cornerstone of two blocks in the historic district; and an 1870 privately-owned residence originally owned by David Bayha, tinsmith and owner of an Architectural Sheet Metal Work Company based in Wheeling.
Wheeling, Ohio County
2017 Update: The historic women’s school was demolished in November 2011 after its purchase by Wheeling Hospital. Much of the site has now become sports fields. Some salvage did occur; the bell from the academy’s bell tower was moved to Wheeling Jesuit University, where it is now on display. Several statues from the site were saved and moved as well; one now sits in front of Wheeling Clinic. The building’s stained glass windows are in storage.
2011: The Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy (Ohio County) has overlooked Wheeling since 1856. The “commodious," eclectic Victorian architectural landmark was constructed using local materials. It exhibits a tri-partite arrangement providing space for public functions in the center (administration and chapel), nun's residences on the left side, and student housing on the right. Additions have expanded the classrooms with space included for other functions as well. The school provided quality education for young women, together with girls from both North and South during the Civil War era. The building is no longer in use and is deteriorating. While local supporters are advocating for its saving and adaptive reuse, the structure is threatened by likely demolition. Mount de Chantal is in private hands; however PAWV agrees that this unique, historical, cultural treasure should be preserved and will advocate to that end as opportunities permit.
The next project planned for the Blue Church is repairing the proscenium’s structurally unsound arch. A structural engineer is currently creating drawings to address the situation.
2010: Church of God and Saints of Christ Tabernacle is a superb Greek Revival Romanesque church. It is a key anchor of the Wheeling historic district in which it is listed. Built in 1835, the interior has cathedral ceilings, original stained glass windows, and a balcony with slave gallery. Although still in use, this building has severe problems. The roof and box gutters have failed allowing water to intrude and the front steps supporting the columns and portico are crumbling. In addition to church services, the church is home to Saints Charity which this year alone provided clothing, hunger relief, living assistance, computer literacy, and children’s summer programs to over 1,200 families.
Wheeling, Ohio County
2017 Update: Returned to its original name of the Capitol Theatre, the venue is saved and functioning as it was originally intended - a beautiful space for plays, concerts, and more. The Capitol is a member of PAWV’s West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail.
2010 Update: Capitol Music Hall of Wheeling from the 2009 list, has reopened and is no longer considered to be endangered.
2009: Since its opening in 1928, this grand Beaux-Arts theater has played a vital part in Wheeling’s economy and image. Listed as a “pivotal structure” in the Wheeling Historic District, the theater is the home of legendary Jamboree USA, which has been broadcasting live over WWVA Radio since 1933. The theater has also been home to the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and various other musical, dance, and theater groups over the years. The building was closed in May 2007 as a result of twenty-three life safety-fire code violations.
Subsequent architectural and economic feasibility studies have shown the building remains a viable theater. Recently, a consortium of Wheeling area non-profit organizations purchased the building and are now engaged in trying to raise the funds needed to save this local icon.
Endangered Properties List
If you are interested in assisting with any of these preservation projects, contact the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org.