Wheeling has some breathtaking buildings. Some of them have been lovingly restored to their former glory, while others are patiently waiting for the day their potential will be recognized. One of these buildings is the Blue Church in the Monroe Street East Historic District. And while its future remains to be seen, Volunteer Wheeling has decided to show it a little love this Valentine’s Day. By bombing it…with hearts. And we would love your help.
A Quick Background on Heart Bombing
Not to be confused with the toxic trait of ‘love bombing’, heart-bombing began as a grassroots campaign by the Buffalo Young Preservationists over a decade ago in an effort to reframe how the community perceived vacant buildings in the city. Instead of a structural eyesore, they could represent a piece of the city’s history that, with a little TLC, could be reinvented as an integral part to the fabric of society.
Potential is in the eye of the beholder.
Like many good ideas, heart-bombing became very popular with other cities whose streetways contained buildings of the past, brimming with potential for the future. Wheeling was one of those cities. Historic buildings in Wheeling have been heart bombed in 2013, 2014, 2014, 2018, and 2022.1 This year, it’s the Blue Church’s turn to shine.
Constructed in 1837, the Blue Church has passed through several owners before closing its doors in 2014 when it was purchased by Wheeling Heritage. Since then, the nonprofit has made structural improvements to help keep the building safe while searching for the right developer to restore her into something special that the community can enjoy.2
The Blue Church. (Courtesy of The Ohio County Public Library, Wheeling WV).
The Blue Church, 12th & Byron Streets, April 15, 1987. (Photograph taken by James Trautwein. From the James Trautwein Collection of the Ohio County Public Library Archives.)
The Blue Church exterior, 2022. (Photo by Wheeling Heritage Media).
How to Heart Bomb
If you like crafts, hold onto your socks because I’m about to knock ‘em straight off: step one in heart-bombing requires getting a little crafty. The level of crafting is up to the person making the heart. Paper, markers, crayons, glitter, gems, etc. will be provided. Think of this as a callback to the purest form of childhood. You should come. It is good for your soul.
You can join in on the fun this Thursday, Feb. 9 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Wheeling Heritage Conference Room, located on the second floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center (1400 Main Street). Everyone is welcome and all materials will be provided. Although, you might want to bring your own scissors.
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Volunteer Wheeling Heart Bomb Craft Night 2022.
Volunteer Wheeling Heart Bomb Craft Night 2022.
The former Columbia Gas building got a little love during Heart Bomb Wheeling 2022.
Volunteers decorating buildings in 2022.
Step two of heart bombing is for the folks who like sticking things to other things, as this step exclusively involves sticking things to other things. We will be hanging the hand-made valentines all over the Blue Church. And brother, we are going to go big. And we need your help to pull it off!
Volunteers will decorate the Blue Church on Saturday, Feb. 11 starting at 10 a.m. If the weather is disagreeable, a rain date will be rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 12.
TL;DR: We’re heart-bombing one of the oldest churches in the city, which involves hanging out with some pretty cool people, making valentines (and memories!), and doing a little bit of legal vandalism by covering the building with our love. We hope to see you there!
For more information, check out the event page here or visit wheelingheritage.org to check out this and other upcoming events.
• Haley Steed has lived in Wheeling for the past 9 years. Before moving to Wheeling, she lived in Columbus, OH where she graduated with a BA in Comparative Cultural Studies from Ohio State University. Haley also earned an MS in Marketing and Communications from Franklin University. She has held multiple marketing positions for 10+ years, with experience in PR/media relations, internal communications, marketing campaign strategy + execution, SEO, branding, content creation, digital analytics, and graphic design. Haley currently serves as an AmeriCorp member at Wheeling Heritage. Haley has one human named Vida, two cats named Hank and Squigs McAllister, and is currently manifesting that her one-day husband’s name will be Jeffrey Goldblum.
1Alex Panas. “Show Buildings Some Love with Volunteer Wheeling”. Weelunk, January 28, 2022. https://weelunk.com/show-buildings-love-volunteer-wheeling/
2Ohio County Public Library. “The Blue Church”. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/wheeling-history/3611