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.
Huntington/Guyandotte, Cabell County
2017 Update: Lost and demolished in May 2011 to make way for the new Huntington East Middle School.
2011: West Virginia Colored Children’s Home (Cabell County) is a Classical Revival-style institutional building in Huntington was constructed in 1922 to provide housing, social services and education for the state’s black children in need. A cemetery where the Home’s children are believed to be buried is near the main building. Now owned by the Cabell County School Board, the West Virginia Colored Children’s Home is slated for demolition to make way for a new Middle School. A local advocacy organization has been formed to save the Home, and supporters are asking for consideration of an alternative building site for the new school or incorporation of the existing structure into a new school campus.
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.
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.