Local residents and visitors alike now can learn the history of several Wheeling neighborhoods thanks to the placement of historical markers within seven sections of the Friendly City.
During the past few weeks markers have been installed in East Wheeling, North Wheeling, Woodsdale, South Wheeling, Elm Grove, Centre Wheeling, and on Wheeling Island. Two more markers soon will be added, one in downtown Wheeling near Independence Hall, and another in the Pleasanton area.
“This is a project we have been working on for several years,” explained Jeremy Morris, executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. “These markers represent an effort on our part to improve each neighborhood so the people who live there know how it was settled and developed over the years.
“Visitors to Wheeling will be able to learn more about the rich history of Wheeling because sometimes people just focus on official monuments, and that’s it,” Morris continued. “And each of the markers have been placed where we believe they will be read most often because of the amount of people that travel past the areas.”
The sign on Wheeling Island was installed near the preserved flood wall on the corner of Virginia and South Penn streets; those visiting Uncle Pete’s Restaurant will be able to read the history of North Wheeling; the Woodsdale marker is in front of Ye Olde Alpha on Carmel Road; the South Wheeling sign is near Wheeling Middle School; Centre Wheeling’s history is available between the two market houses; and the Friendly City’s Heritage Trail is utilized for the markers in Elm Grove and East Wheeling.
Installation of the seven markers cost $16,000, and the price tag for each sign was $2,500. Morris said federal funds were budgeted for the project.
“The markers are pretty large, so people will have a hard time missing them; that’s for sure,” Morris said. “We’re hoping people take a few minutes and educate themselves about their neighborhood or about a section of Wheeling that they often frequent.
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“I think there are a lot of interesting facts that people may not know about,” he said. “These nine neighborhoods were extensively researched by me, Bekah Karelis, and a few of our interns, and all of the information was vetted by a few local historians that we work with often. I think people will be surprised.”
Morris pointed to the Woodsdale section of Wheeling and the fact that this area of Wheeling includes a few Lustron houses constructed soon after the end of World War II. The homes are prefabricated enameled steel houses that were developed in reaction to the shortage of houses for returning soldiers who were not interested in repairing and painting conventional wood or plaster structures.
Approximately 2,000 of these homes are still standing, according to roadsidearchitecture.com, and two are in clear sight along Edgwood Street in Woodsdale.
“And we’ve included facts like that on all of the markers because of the role architecture plays in Wheeling,” Morris said. “This project is very similar to what we have done about the industrial history of Wheeling and the markers that have been placed in and around Heritage Port.
“A part of our mission is to preserve the history of Wheeling by educating others,” Morris continued. “One way to preserve that history is for as many people as possible to know it so they can continue passing it on to their friends and family members. That’s why we feel they are very good investments in our neighborhoods.”
Once residents and visitors encounter the markers, Morris expects folks will begin posting photographs on social media networks.
“People love this town; that we know for sure,” he said. “Whether they live here now or they grew up here and moved away for whatever reasons, people pay attention to Wheeling because of what it means to them. There will always be negative people who make the comments they do, but the majority of people who live here now appreciate it very much.
“That’s what these markers are all about because they go back to the beginning and they bring people to today,” Morris added. “We believe it will help enhance that appreciation and allow it to continue for many years down the road.”
(Photos provided by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp.)