Wheeling Haunts Episode Three: Music at the McLain

If you haven’t listened to the previous episodes of our new podcast Wheeling Haunts, then be sure to go check it out!

Happy Monday! It’s time for another episode of Wheeling Haunts, a new podcast produced by Wheeling Heritage Media. 

This week, Cassie and Alex head to East Wheeling to chat with their friend and colleague Betsy Sweeny about a spooky encounter she recently had in her home. This story involves a long history of interesting homeowners, an old piano, and a contractor that may or may not be a channel for the spirit world. 

About the McLain House

Built around 1892, the McLain House was built for Thomas B. McLain, who at that time was one of Wheeling’s pioneering businessmen and highly-respected citizens. His home at 115 14th Street in East Wheeling was built around the same time he and his three brothers retired from a successful drug business – The McLain Brothers Drug Store. At that time Thomas and his son opened McLain Dental and Surgical Supply Company on the corner of Market and 12th Streets. According to Wheeling City Directories, Thomas lived in his home at 115 14th Street for about a decade before moving to a new home at Echo Point.

There would then go on to be several other Wheelingites who would call the McLain House home, including Bernard and Estella Horkheimer, who were prominent figures in the Jewish community. Bernard, along with his brothers and the Baer brothers, ran a successful wool-buying and grocery business. Frank C. Swift, a traveling salesman and broker lived in the McLain House next, followed by Rev. Pliny Brokan Ferris and his wife Alice.

Leon Reefer and his wife Josephine were an interesting set of characters who lived at 115 14th Street from around 1928-1935 and used the home not only as their residence but as an office for Leon’s veterinary business. Daniel H. and Edna Manners were the next residents from 1936-1946. 

More recently, the Antonucci family lived in the McLain House from 1946-1980. Carl Antonucci was a millworker at Wheeling Steel, and his wife Mary worked at a local bakery. Both were known throughout the neighborhood for their gardens and Sunday dinners. After the Antonucci’s, the house was seemingly vacant from 1980 until local preservationists Brian and Stephanie Wilson purchased the home in 2013. Brian and Stephanie both were trained through the Belmont College Restoration Program and had the right skills to complete many necessary structural upgrades and repairs that saved the home from further damage.

In 2020, Betsy Sweeny purchased the McLain House from the Wilsons and has made several structural improvements to make the home fully liveable once again. You can learn more about Sweeny’s story here, or by following along on Instagram or her website

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READ MORE: She Bought the House ‘Because It Felt Like Home’

Music at the McLain

  • What's the significance of this piano? Find out by listening to this week's episode.

With so many people in and out of the McLain House through the years, at least a few have had to stick around in the afterlife…right?

In this week’s episode, we chat with Betsy Sweeny to learn more about her experience of restoring and living in the McLain House. Betsy is no stranger to old homes, but surprisingly has not had any ghostly encounters…until recently!

A historic home, an old piano, and a chance encounter with an interesting contractor…you’ll have to listen to this week’s episode to get the full story. Plus, be sure to listen to the end of the episode to hear about ANOTHER chilling encounter that happened while the Wheeling Heritage Media team was collecting behind-the-scenes video footage for the Wheeling Haunts VIP Listeners.

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Share Your Haunted Stories!

Do you have chilling tales from your own home in Wheeling? We want to hear about it! Leave us a voicemail for your chance to be featured on an upcoming episode of the Wheeling Haunts podcast. Click here to leave us a voicemail.

Wheeling Haunts is a new podcast produced by Wheeling Heritage Media. Each Monday in October, we release a new episode featuring a different Wheeling home that has some spooky history attached to it. You can listen right here on Weelunk, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

If you want even more spooky details, then subscribe to the Wheeling Haunts VIP Listener Club. VIP Listeners will receive early access to the podcast each week, plus access to exclusive video content, podcast merch, and special discounts at the Wheeling Artisan Center Shop! For this first episode, you’ll get to watch a behind-the-scenes video featuring some of the interesting design details from inside the Phillips McLure House. It’s just $25 to become a VIP listener! Sign up here!

• Wheeling Heritage Media creates a variety of multimedia experiences in order to tell Wheeling’s story, both past and present. Through videos, podcasts, photos, and more, they create content and provide digital access to help more people feel connected and engaged with this vibrant, growing community