Editor’s note: The Ohio County Public Library has launched its 26th People’s University, an eight-week series featuring weird, wild, wacky, whimsical stories from Wheeling, including: Native-American oddities, frontier follies, Civil War conundrums, Victorian unconventionalities, Progressive Era incongruities, political peculiarities, hotel hijinks, morbid mysteries and more! Let Weelunk give you just a little insight into these programs — but don’t miss the expanded presentations at the library! Today, we get a sneak peek into Week Seven of the series, set to unfold at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.
In its more than 160-year history, the McLure Hotel has borne witness to the Civil War, the formation of the state of West Virginia, the rise and fall of the silent movie era, and the height of country music at The Capitol Theatre.
At one point, the McLure was the largest hotel in the state of West Virginia, boasting 315 guest rooms. Although renovations have changed the once donut-shaped building into a more standard rectangle, the iconic staircase and chandelier still greet guests as they walk into its lobby at 1200 Market St. And even though horses are no longer corralled on the McLure’s first floor, the ghosts of bygone eras still seem to linger in its hallways.
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It is well known that celebrities and politicians have paraded through its doors from Marilyn Monroe to Harry Truman, but few people realize that it’s the lesser known tales that truly reveal the strangeness that only a hotel with its long history can tell.
Why didn’t Lincoln give his inaugural address at the McLure?
How did the mysterious woman from Buffalo die at the McLure?
Which little girl from a well-known stage family celebrated her birthday at the McLure?
Why did a young mother abandon her baby with a hotel maid?
Which muppet is named after a former McLure employee?
What stories can you tell about the McLure?
• Christina Fisanick, Ph.D., is an associate professor of English at California University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches expository writing, creative non-fiction and digital storytelling. She is the author of more than 30 books, including her most recent memoir, “The Optimistic Food Addict: Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder.” She has been a Weelunk contributing writer since 2015. Christina is a 1996 graduate of West Liberty University and a member of Ohio Valley Writers. She lives in Wheeling with her family.