May is Historic Preservation Month.
Established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the designated month brings attention to historic places with the intention to instill pride, promote heritage tourism and to show benefits of historic preservation.
While we can’t all flock to our favorite historic theatres and restaurants yet, here’s ten ways you can celebrate preservation month while social distancing.
1. Take a virtual tour.
Friends of Wheeling frequently tours some of the coolest historic buildings in Wheeling. Missed your favorite? Luckily the photos from each of the tours are available here.
2. Look at an old map.
The Library of Congress has thousands of historic Sanborn maps available to view digitally. Originally created for fire insurance companies to assess urban liability, today these maps are a fascinating look at American’s cities. See if you can find your house or favorite building from Wheeling’s collection.
3. Take yourself on a walking tour.
Explore one of Wheeling’s many historic neighborhoods. Go to Wheelingheritage.org/self-guided-tours/ and download a history and architecture tour, or create your own!
4. Go on a photo scavenger hunt.
Look at different buildings and take interesting photos of details, colors and textures that you find visually appealing. Share your photos on Facebook or Instagram and tag Weelunk.
5. Take our Neighborhood Quiz!
Once you find out which Wheeling neighborhood is most like your personality, the results might surprise you. Once you have your results, visit that neighborhood and see if you notice something about it you might have missed before
6. Support a business in an old building.
The best way to save our old buildings is by using them! Now more than ever, small businesses are struggling. If they fail, we all do. Pick up takeout or place an online order from your favorite shop residing in a historic building or district.
7. Experience a Cultural Landscape.
Preservation isn’t just about old buildings. Walk Heritage Trail and imagine how the riverfront must have looked when river and rail traffic prevailed. What evidence of that history is still visible?
8. Reach out!
Do you have an old building but aren’t sure what incentives are available? Do you have questions about what it means for your neighborhood to be included in a historic district? Reach out to Wheeling Heritage, we provide technical assistance for those interested in learning more about historic preservation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Speak up!
Do you love old buildings? Let people know! Historic buildings are precious resources that cannot be replaced once lost. Communicating with your local leaders, attending (virtually) historic landmarks and city council meetings and writing letters to the editor are all great ways to advocate for historic preservation in Wheeling.
10. Share your favorite building with us!
Do you love the terracotta on Klos Tower or the Victorian houses on Chapline Street Row? Share your favorite building in the box below.
• Betsy Sweeny, historic preservation program manager at Wheeling Heritage, is an architectural historian and Wheeling transplant. She spends her free time on Heritage Trail with her dog Marshall.