With Valentine’s Day just five days away, you’ve likely already secured a special gift for your sweetheart – but have you thought about how you might deliver that gift? The folks at West Virginia Independence Hall have the perfect opportunity to surprise your Valentine with a gift-giving experience steeped in local history.
Inspired by Tradition
West Virginia Independence Hall is probably best known as the site of the first West Virginia Constitutional Convention and the first and second Wheeling Conventions that were instrumental in our journey to statehood. But before these conventions were held, Independence Hall was built in 1859 to serve as a federal custom house. At a time when mail delivery hadn’t yet been formalized, Wheelingites would travel to the custom house to retrieve their mail – these boxes were rented at a rate of two cents for both senders and receivers.1 Those who didn’t rent a mailbox could look to The Wheeling Intelligencer, which would publish a list twice a month with the names of people who had mail to claim at the post office.2
It’s hard to imagine going through such lengths to receive mail like that today, but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it can be a unique way to deliver a special gift this year.
Rent a Post Office Box for Valentines Day
If you want to give your Valentine a gift they will remember, you can stop by West Virginia Independence Hall through February 12 to rent a historic post office box for just $10 (cash or check only). In addition to the mailbox rental, each mailbox will include a vintage Valentine card and a small box of Russell Stover’s chocolate. Additional items can be added to the box.
Once purchased, you will receive a gift card for your Valentine with their name and mailbox number on it. The recipient will bring their card into WV Independence Hall’s restored post office to find their box and collect their gifts. All Valentines must be picked up no later than Wednesday, February 23.
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West Virginia Independence Hall is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The building is located at 1528 Market Street in Downtown Wheeling, parking is available in the rear of the building off of 16th Street.
No purchases or pickups for Valentine’s mailboxes will be available on Friday, February 11 until after 3 p.m. WVIH employees will be hosting the state History Bowl tournament and will not be available during this time.
For more information, call 304-238-1300. This event is sponsored by the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.