Upon entry to the McLure Hotel on Market Street in Wheeling, it is clear that you are walking into a piece of history. Just inside the lobby there is plenty to marvel at – from the cascading stairway to an imposing chandelier, it’s not surprising that the McLure has hosted several dignitaries throughout the years. One thing you might also notice is that the hotel is currently undergoing a series of renovations that will provide guests with modern amenities in a historic setting.
With an 8,000 square foot ballroom that can accommodate up to 500 guests, 173 on-site rooms and amazing Downtown location, it’s no wonder why the McLure Hotel was sought after by Roxby Development in 2021. From 1852 to today, the McLure Hotel has a deeply rich history of politicians, celebrities and salacious rumors.
Virginia’s Largest Hotel
The ambitious project of constructing the McLure Hotel began in 1851 and was completed a year later in 1852. The first owner and creator of the McLure, John McLure Senior, could flaunt during his heyday that he had the largest hotel in the state. At the time, Wheeling was still a part of Virginia, as West Virginia would not become its own state until June of 1863 during the Civil War.
The McLure Hotel quickly became a hot spot for travelers, including politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon—11 presidents in total, according to the Ohio County Library records. While it has been rumored that Marilyn Monroe stayed at the McLure, it’s also said that she stayed there alongside John F. Kennedy. While this is tantalizing gossip, it’s however, not accurate. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy made a visit to the McLure together, but never stayed the night, let alone with Marilyn Monroe in tow. Even still, people love a dramatic story, so this tale gets attention from time to time even decades later.
Patrons arrived from far and wide on horse and buggy to lay their head at the McLure. The booming hotel received countless guests over several decades and was one of the highlights of visiting the state. Much of the McClure’s original design was intact for over 100 years – that is until 1982 when the hotel underwent extensive renovations.
The McLure Hotel in its earlier days, as provided by the Ohio County Archives.
The McLure entrance boasts a beautiful wrap around staircase, in addition to a daunting chandelier overhead.
With renovations taking place for two years, the McLure managed to get a lot done, as to not deter any further delay on welcoming guests. The lobby was completely transformed and has been kept exactly as it is today. The hotel added on additional rooms to assist with its increase in visitors—135 to be exact. It was also rumored that a glass supper club room overlooking the city was created during these renovations, with beautiful views of the Ohio River and Downtown Wheeling. This rumor insinuated that funds for this project were depleted and this room was not only unfinished, but hidden away from all visitors of the hotel.
Nearly 40 years later, the McLure is getting yet another facelift to keep up with the expectations that modern travelers desire, while keeping the legacy of the hotel’s past intact.
“The improvements have not stopped,” said Chelsey Demussi, Assistant Manager at the McLure Hotel.
“This hotel is getting the much-needed TLC it’s been craving. If you drive by the hotel, you can see the biggest change at the McLure House is the crisp white paint job!”
Included in the already positive changes at the McLure Hotel are all new art installations in the lobby and the hotel rooms with updated features and appliances.
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The hotel is also receiving updates in areas that guests might not see, but won’t go unnoticed. “Much needed behind-the-scenes improvement of A/C and plumbing are almost complete, which was one of the McLure’s biggest previous complaints, so we are very happy about that!”
Demussi believes that with the efforts to update the hotel and its ideal location in Downtown Wheeling, the McLure cannot lose.
“Wheeling is a gorgeous city, surrounded by nature. It is just a welcoming place. I think a lot of younger people are looking for new smaller, quieter cities with places to breathe, hike and explore,” said Demussi.
“It just needs a little something extra. A little change goes a long way! With more entertainment, food, art and community networking, the possibilities are really endless in a place as special as Wheeling. The feeling of community here is wonderfully overwhelming. Everything that we have been doing at the hotel has been locally-sourced. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a place like that?!”
The Future of the McLure
While major headway has been made at this stately hotel, there is much more to come, according to management and Roxby Development, owners of the McLure Hotel.
Taylor Smith, Manager of the McLure Hotel, has big plans for the hotel in the coming months.
“Coming next for McLure House, we are continually working to enhance the look and feel of the hotel,” said Smith.
“Currently we have painting staff working inside the hotel to help with the beautification process. This is the long game, not short. With COVID-19 shadowing the world right now, we all have to be patient for perfection and it will come.”
The newly repainted McLure stands out now more than it ever has before, reflecting light from the sun and catching the eye of those walking the street.
The McClure Hotel before receiving its recent fresh paint job.
Smart televisions and streaming features in every room, live entertainment in the bar and lounge area upon reopening, eventual rebranding and the highly anticipated supper club room are all in the works, according to Demussi and Smith. The McLure is also making efforts to have an escape room, hopefully available for the Halloween season.
Another fun project in the works is related to the rumored supper club, which was found to be true by the Roxby Development team shortly after the assumed ownership. The supper club was discovered in a blocked off area of the hotel that was filled with old storage from previous owners. The plan for this beautiful glass room is to reopen it as an eatery, but for small plated food only. This will be one of the hotel’s greatest features upon completion due to its astounding views overlooking the city.
The view from the supper room looks over Downtown Wheeling, the Ohio River and Wheeling Island. With the McLure’s convenient location, visitors can see a Nailers game, go to Heritage Port and see a show at the Capitol Theatre with just a short walk to the McLure Hotel.
Taylor Smith, Manager of the McLure Hotel, with a guest in attendance at the recent drag show hosted at the McLure.
Smith and Demussi are also committed to making sure that their hotel is offering entertainment options that complement other activities happening throughout the city. One such example is the drag show that was hosted during the Ohio Valley Pride Festival. The event organizers were able to secure an impressive lineup of talented performers, including Aiden Zhane and Maddelynn Hatter from Rupaul’s Drag Race and a DJ and dancing night.
With so much more to come for the McLure Hotel, Downtown Wheeling has a lot to celebrate, now more than ever.
• With a background in journalism and being a true Wheeling native, Jessica Broverman was destined to work with Weelunk. She holds a degree in journalism with a minor in criminal justice and works with Williams Lea Tag as a legal proofreader. When she isn’t typing away for Weelunk or WLT, she is enjoying a coffee at one of her many favorite spots in Wheeling, spending time with friends, or having fun with her husband Zachary and their two cats, Proctor and Max.