Every Community Needs a Hero—and a Couple of Bucks!

Listed as one of Wheeling’s twelve historic districts, South Wheeling is known for its rich immigrant history, strong manufacturing past, friendly community, and incredible architecture. Recently, a new local non-profit has formed to highlight the community and save old buildings.

Ritchietown Renaissance is a new group with an old mission: “dedicated to saving the physical historic resources of South Wheeling, originally known as ‘Ritchietown.” The group comprises a strong team of local advocates and preservationists who have already successfully halted the demolition of multiple structures, including one of the largest buildings in the neighborhood. With all of this momentum comes the need for funding. 

The non-profit organization is hosting its first fundraiser on Tuesday, August 8, from 5-9 p.m. at Undos in Benwood. Ritchietown Treasurer and South Wheeling resident, Ken Sexton, shares his view of the event. “It’s going to be an exciting opportunity to learn more about the work and hopefully support our preservation efforts.”

READ MORE: This New Group is on a Mission to Preserve South Wheeling’s Historic Buildings

Ritchietown Renaissance’s Dine to Donate event will have plenty of ways to give, including a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction with baskets including Symphony Date Night, Lenovo Tablet, Towngate Theater Capitol Theater, and more. Lastly, 15% of all food proceeds will go to the organization.

“We know this work cannot happen without serious fundraising, and we are committed to exploring all of our options to repurpose and refurbish these great pieces of history,” said Sexton.

Ritchietown Renaissance packed The Foundry – a new bar in South Wheeling- earlier in April for a South Wheeling Trivia Night.

The organization has also hosted various trivia events and building tours in the past and hopes to collaborate with more community partners in the future to raise awareness. In addition to community fundraising events, the organization is also focused on targeting state grants to aid its mission.

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“People are very familiar with great groups like Friends of Wheeling and the Victorian Old Town Association, and while we are the new kids on the block, we are grateful to be part of a growing movement,” Sexton said.

Tackling blight has been a consistent focus of local officials and community advocates, and while the organization understands that some structures may be “too far gone,” they are determined to help find a healthy balance between demolition and preservation.

“We recognize that not every building can or should be saved. We are focusing on salvageable buildings that have historic or architectural significance or contribute to an intact streetscape,” said Ritchietown Renaissance President, Debbie Griffin.

If you would like to attend this event and learn more, visit the Ritchietown Renaissance Facebook page or website with information about their work and opportunities to support this ambitious organization!

• Rosemary Ketchum is a member of the Wheeling City Council representing Ward 3. Ketchum also serves as the Chief Facilitator of the public health coalition “Edible Mountain”. Rosemary’s work in community organizing and politics has been featured on TODAY, MSNBC, CBS, and CNN.