The closure of Spic & Span Dry Cleaners at 841 National Road is truly the end of an era. The dry cleaning business and laundromat had a good 95-year run, and saw three generations of family leadership. While the cleaners had a few locations around town over the years, their location on National Road was the longest-running. Opening in 1959, Spic & Span Cleaners spent 63 years in Woodsdale in the two-story bricking building.1 

Like many other buildings in Wheeling, this building located at 841 National Road has a colorful past. Before it was home to Spic & Span, it was an auto dealership, macaroni factory, soda pop bottling facility, and furniture store. Even after the cleaners announced their grand opening in 1959, other businesses and organizations leased space over the years. Read on to learn more about just some of the many businesses that once called 841 National Road “home.”

P.F. King Motor Company

  • Image of the completed King Motor Company from “Photographs Illustrating Works of Charles W. Bates and William H. Cook, Architects and Engineers.” Ohio County Library Special Collections.

Charles W. Bates, one of Wheeling’s celebrated architects, is responsible for the design of 840 National Road. It was built as the new home of the King Motor Company, which opened in May of 1917. Automania gripped Wheeling at this time; the King Motor Company was just one of many auto dealerships popping up around Wheeling.

  • P.F. King Motors Co. was just one of the many Automobile Dealers in the city during the 1920s. In the early years of the automobile, it was common for cities to host local shows.The Wheeling Sunday Register, March 7th, 1920.

READ MORE: This Architect Designed Many of Wheeling’s Iconic Buildings

The Macaroni Years

In 1935 it was announced that the Wheeling Macaroni Company, Inc. would take over at 841 National Road. The company, touted as the first commercial pasta manufacturer in the state, planned to produce 50,000 pounds of pasta a day and employ 150 people2. For reference, a box of dry pasta typically holds anywhere from 12oz to a pound of product.

  • By 1938, the Macaroni Factory had outgrown their humble beginnings on National Road. They planned to move into the former J.G. Hoffmann Tannery in Centre Wheeling. Wheeling News Register April 10th, 1938.

To get the building ready to make the transition from auto sales to pasta production, the entire interior was painted and modern machinery was installed. By 1938 the Macaroni Company had outgrown the space and announced plans to move into the former J.G. Hoffman Tannery in Centre Wheeling.3

Used Cars, Furniture, War Bonds, and Pop

After the macaroni operation moved, the building transitioned back to a car-centric place, and Wheeling Motors moved in. World War II was tough on the car market— domestic car factories were re-tooled to build for the military, and fuel and tires were rationed. This may explain why the Woodsdale Furniture Mart took over the address in the 1940s.

In the late 1940s, Royal Crown Cola, or “RC Cola” maintained a bottling operation at the address. It’s unclear exactly when they moved out, but by 1959, Spic & Span had moved in.

  • An advertisement for Wheeling Motors. Nearly two decades of automobile manufacturing meant that a market for used cars was growing. Wheeling News Register, August 21st, 1938.

Laundry Downstairs, Dancing Upstairs

In the fall of 1959, Spic & Span Dry Cleaners expanded their operations to 841 National Road. At the time they still maintained their downtown location on 12th street, but this was a big move! The larger building meant greater laundry-washing potential, and room to rent out space to other businesses. With the first floor mostly occupied by the cleaners, the second floor was home to a variety of businesses over the years– most notably the Oglebay Institute.

  • “Orchids to the Ladies” at the Grand Opening of the newest location of Spic & Span Dry Cleaners. Wheeling News Register, October 8, 1959.

In the 1960s and 70s, the second floor was home to the Oglebay Institute’s Downtown Center. Here, residents could take classes in art, furniture refinishing, stained glass, and folk dancing– much like what is offered by the Oglebay Institute today4.

So what’s next for this building? Only time will tell. From the first car rolling out of the King Motor Company’s garage, to the last load of laundry washed, and every folk dance in between, 841 National Road has seen some things in the last 105 years. Who knows, maybe it can stick around for another act!

What memories do you have of 841 National Road?

References

1 Wheling News Register, October 8, 1959; Spic & Span Cleaners [website] https://spicandspandrycleaners.com/ accessed Dec. 2022

2 Wheeling News Register, October 22, 1935

3 Wheeling News Register, April 10, 1938

4 “Oglebay Institute Folk Dance Camp.” The Society of Folk Dance Historians [website]. https://sfdh.us/encyclopedia/oglebay_institute_folk_dance_camps.html accessed Jan 2022

• 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.

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