It’s bittersweet to write this, but my time in Wheeling is coming to a close. Just one year ago, I came to Wheeling to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. I had just graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Anthropology and was looking for something meaningful to do while I figured out my future plans. I heard good things about Wheeling, and was delighted to find that an AmeriCorps service position was being offered through the Preservation Alliance at Wheeling Heritage.
Not being from around these parts, I’ve spent the past year in what can only be described as a “crash course” in Wheeling history. The historical density of Wheeling is evident the moment you arrive in town. There is beautiful architecture, fascinating folklore, inspiring stories of industry, and many, many, residents devoted to this place.
The majority of my AmeriCorps service position has been to research and write historical content for Weelunk. Topics have ranged from profiling famous architects to digging up details on social events like the renowned Paczki Ball. I also wrote articles about fireworks, raising chickens, a party for a dead poet, an eccentric fiddler, and privies. All of this is to say, Wheeling history isn’t just concentrated around a specific time period or historic event– it’s very possible to find a diversity of stories that align with your personal research goals and interests.
Kate Wietor and Mary Ann Rafa reveal the Wheeling Artisan Center's completed Little Library. Kate helped paint the little library that is located inside the Wheeling Artisan Center.
Kate Wietor giving a lecture at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville. She had spent part of her service hours working with a collection of artifacts recovered in 2001 from the proposed footprint of the Federal Annex building in Wheeling.
Conducting research in Wheeling is a breeze. Wheeling has the oldest continuously published newspaper in the state (the Wheeling Intelligencer, since 1853), and the Ohio County Public Library maintains a searchable internet archive of the city newspapers. There is also an extensive collection of reference materials located in the Wheeling Room at the library, and if the answer isn’t there, there is a wealth of local historians, researchers, and residents willing to help fill in the details.
If all of this sounds right up your alley, you’re in luck– the position is available! The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has full and part-time service positions available for those interested in historic preservation for the next service year. Each site offers opportunities to engage in different facets of historic preservation, from hands-on repair projects, to grant writing, to helping build capacity for a new community-led neighborhood revitalization organization.
You can browse through all of the Preserve WV service opportunities throughout the state at pawv.org. For now, you can learn more about the services opportunities available right here in Wheeling!
Wheeling Heritage is the operating organization for the Wheeling National Heritage Area, the Wheeling area Main Street Program, and Weelunk. Wheeling Heritage’s mission is to be a catalyst for the revitalization of Wheeling. Weelunk serves as another platform to tell Wheeling’s story by providing community-centered cultural content – connecting pride of place with the present day.
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As an AmeriCorps member at Wheeling Heritage, you willdevelop research-based, historical pieces for Weelunk.com. Articles must meet certain criteria, be rooted in Wheeling’s shared history and culture, foster pride and promote preservation in Wheeling.
Ritchietown Renaissance, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic resources and heritage of the South Wheeling area. Its purpose is to preserve buildings in South Wheeling, either through its own actions or by providing assistance to others in their preservation efforts
As an AmeriCorps member at this site, you will help build the capacity of the all-volunteer board of the recently-formed Ritchietown Renaissance by completing tasks that will further its communications, education, and advocacy efforts to preserve historic South Wheeling.
Friends of Wheeling is an all-volunteer, historic preservation nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and develop knowledge of, an appreciation for, and pride in the artistic, historic, and architectural wealth of the City of Wheeling.
Assist the Friends of Wheeling with their “orphan” cemeteries project in Ohio County as these cemeteries do not have perpetual care or even formal organizations overlooking their care. Within the county, there are three large cemeteries and 35 smaller cemeteries that receive differing degrees of maintenance.
Friends of Wheeling 722/724 Main Street Project – Part-time
An antebellum duplex, located at 722-724 Main Street, Wheeling (within the North Wheeling Historic District) was donated to Friends of Wheeling in January of 2022. The main purpose of this project will be to aid in the rehabilitation of this property. This project will involve opportunities to learn-while-you-serve alongside the contractors who will be stabilizing the building.
You will have the opportunity to practice hands-on preservation trades as well as help fundraise for building renovation, and conduct historical research in the North Wheeling Historic District. Contact Friends of Wheeling to learn more.
Compensation and Benefits
Part-time service positions require a 900-hour annual commitment, equivalent to 20 hours of service a week, and full-time positions require a 1700-hour annual commitment, equivalent to 40 hours of service a week. Members are compensated with an annual stipend, received bi-monthly and are eligible for a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of their term of service.
West Virginia is the first state to offer an AmeriCorps Tuition Waiver to AmeriCorps members who are eligible. This brand-new initiative waives University Tuition and Fees to those who qualify. Find additional information by visiting financialaid.wvu.edu/waivers/americorps.
If any of these positions seem like a good fit for you, then consider applying today by visiting pawv.org.
• Kate Wietor is currently studying Architectural History and Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. She spent one glorious year in Wheeling serving as the 2021-22 AmeriCorps member at Wheeling Heritage. Since moving back to Virginia, she’s still looking for an antique store that rivals Sibs.