May is Historic Preservation Month.
Established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the designated month brings attention to historic places with the intention to instill pride, promote heritage tourism and to show benefits of historic preservation. In other words, THIS PLACE MATTERS!
“I think this fits well in Wheeling where historic preservation has played such a huge role in our downtown culture, but maybe people don’t necessarily think about the things that impact them and their surroundings as ‘historic preservation’ in the traditional sense,” said Betsy Sweeny, historic preservation program manager at Wheeling Heritage.
“Preservation month is a nice prompt to stop and take notice, and maybe even become an advocate. A lot of people look at old buildings with admiration but the engagement stops there. This can be a jumping off point to dig in a little deeper.”
Here are some ways to celebrate Historic Preservation Month, Sweeny suggests.
1. Take a Walk
Explore one of Wheeling’s many historic neighborhoods. Go to Wheelingheritage.org/self-guided-tours/ and download a history and architecture tour, or create your own!
2. Visit a Historic Site or Museum
Independence Hall, Oglebay and the Stifel Center are just a few of the historic sites, museums and cultural institutions Wheeling has to offer. Plan a visit and pay attention to the architectural elements you might otherwise overlook.
3. Get to Know the Local Preservation Organizations
Several neighborhoods in Wheeling have historic preservation organizations that meet regularly to share information and participate in community service. The South Wheeling Preservation Alliance, Friends of Wheeling and Victorian Old Town Association are all organizations that welcome new members with an interest in preservation.
4. Shop Historic
Stroll through Centre Market, or visit a shop or restaurant located in a historic building. Notice the details of the space that make your experience unique.
5. Visit a Historic Theatre
Attend a symphony performance at The Capitol Theatre on May 17 or the Mother’s Day Show at the Victoria Theater on May 10.
6. Take a Picture
Share your photos of historic buildings on social media using the hashtag #thisplacematters. Part of a larger campaign launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, #thisplacematters is a way for people to share the places and spaces that mean the most to them.
7. Speak Up
Do you love old buildings? Let people know! Historic buildings are precious resources that cannot be replaced once lost. Communicating with your local leaders, attending historic landmarks and city council meetings and writing letters to the editor are all great ways to advocate for historic preservation in Wheeling.
8. Get Spiritual
9. Read a Sign
Highway markers, trail signage and local landmark plaques are all great ways to learn about the built environment. Read these signs and let them guide you through the city of Wheeling.
10. Learn More
The Ohio County Public Library is a great place to dig deeper into local history. You can make an appointment to visit the Wheeling Room and view their collection of Sanborn Maps, or visit their Flickr page and browse the impressive collection of historic photographs.