DOWNTOWN LIVING: Church Bells Get Her to Work on Time Phyllis Sigal January 8, 2020 Editor’s note: While downtown Wheeling living has always been a thing, it seems as if there are more apartments than ever. With the refurbishment of the Boury Lofts, the Stone Center and the Flat Iron Building, the idea of urban living seems to be gaining in popularity. Weelunk visits with a few downtown residents to discover why they chose the neighborhood, what they like about it and what’s on their wish list. Today, meet Wheeling attorney Cindy Fluharty. She has loved being able to leave her condo when the church bells begin to chime the 9 o’clock hour and still be at work on time — at 9 a.m. That’s been quite a benefit of downtown living for Cindy Fluharty, who moved into the McLain Flats a little over a year and a half ago. She wasn’t set on a downtown place, but the space she fell in love with just happened to be at the corner of 12th and Eoff streets. The original hardwood floors, the high ceilings, the fireplaces, the history, the openness — that’s what drew her in after she spent a weekend at a friend’s condo, just one floor above where she now calls home. Home sweet home at the McClain Flats. “Once I realized how I felt in this space, and once I realized what living downtown could open up for me in terms of opportunities, then I kind of put two and two together, and it fell into place for me.” And then a myriad of assets offered themselves up to Cindy. THE GOOD “I’ve grown to love the trail,” she said of the Heritage Trail that winds its way along the Ohio River. “It’s a peacefulness. I hit that trail and feel everything roll off my shoulders — just being by water.” Being just a few blocks from the many festivals is a plus. “I have to admit when I lived ‘out the Pike,’ I probably would not have made it a point to come downtown to the Chili Cook-off or the rib fest or whatever, but if there’s a festival, and I’m in town that day, I always go down,” she said. There’s Good Mansion Wines, good restaurants and, one of her favorite places, the library. “I’m a library lover. I love walking down the street to return a library book or to get a new adventure,” she said. A good book and a cup of tea make for a quiet afternoon at the McLain Flats. And the symphony. She often picks up a neighbor or two and heads to The Capitol Theatre on symphony nights. “One of the other things about living here is the ability to walk to and from the symphony … that way you can go upstairs when they have the after-party and not worry about how much wine you’ve had!” And she loves having a good restaurant nearby. With her condo just a block up the hill from the Metropolitan Citi Grill, she’s lucky to have the restaurant’s Bernie Morgan watch her home safely. “There have been occasions when I have been walking home alone after dinner, and Bernie has watched me walk up the street to make sure I get home safe. … When I get to my door, he’ll yell, ‘Goodnight, Cindy!’ and wave to me before he goes back inside.” As she mentioned, she lived “out the Pike” for some time before moving downtown. A Tyler County native, she moved to Wheeling’s Edgewood/Woodsdale neighborhood after law school a few decades ago, then moved to Dimmeydale for about 10 years and eventually opted for condo-living at Georgetown. THE BAD? Some of the negatives she may have expected haven’t come to fruition. For example, she thought it might be loud and noisy. But she enjoys hearing the birds sing right outside her window. If the quiet is interrupted by sirens, she recognizes the comfort of being just a couple of blocks from the city’s police department. THE FLATS The property where the McLain Flats building sits was sold by Noah Zane in 1830 to James Caldwell, who transferred it to Anne Caldwell in a trust for her son William James Chalmers. Anne McLain purchased the property in 1888; it appears that a portion of the current building was constructed at that time. Around 1915, the building was lengthened, and a third story was erected. According to a 1915 newspaper article, “The plans, which were drawn by architect Fred Faris, provide for six apartments, two on each floor, each containing six rooms and bath. There will be a living room, two bedrooms, each opening into the bathroom, a servant’s room, dining room, and kitchen, in addition to a butler’s pantry.” Fourteen windows on each side were installed to allow for an “abundance of light.” … “On the Twelfth Street side, the front of the building, there will be a large double French window to each apartment opening upon a balcony, which will be closed in by an iron balustrade.” Cindy Fluharty leans on the iron balustrade of the McLain Flats. The building stayed in the McLain family until 1958 when family descendants sold the property. The law firm of Curl, Keefer, Schafer and McKay occupied the building. Second and third-floor apartments were occupied until 1985. Other owners included Betty Woods Nutting, Historical Restoration Investment Association, Eoff Street Realty, James B. McCluskey, City of Wheeling and N. W.Va. Land Title Co., Paul and Deborah McKay, Heather Slack, and, in 2017 Chase Kaldor purchased the property, rehabilitating it and converting it to condominiums for sale, according to information provided by Friends of Wheeling. THE WISH LIST “I am quite happy to get the [Public] Market going in the Intermodal so I can take advantage of local produce at my doorstep basically. That’s a stopgap … what would be lovely is a real, small grocery store downtown. But we’ll take what we can get — especially when it’s supporting the local economy.” Anything else? “I want to say more restaurants, but it’s not that I tire of the ones that we have. Maybe a bakery … but we’ve got Good Mansion Wines,” she noted. And she can practically see Good Mansion Wines and smell the pastries out of her window. But what she can see out her window is the dome of the St. Joseph Cathedral. “At night when I come back in after I’ve turned out all the lights and come back into the living room for the last time, the apartment is totally dark and outside is light, and you see that dome through the window, it takes your breath away.” Night view from the McLain Flats. • Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts. 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