Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rest in Peace: Large Section of East Wheeling Historic District Soon to be Demolished

Photo Tour of Large Section of East Wheeling Historic District to be DemolishedThe city of Wheeling, West Virginia presents a dilemma for historic preservationists. On one hand, the city has perhaps the best and most intact collection of mid-19th century Victorian architecture in the region. On the other hand, a great deal of that architecture is falling apart, due to neglect and abandonment (the city's population has fallen to less than half of its peak level, when it was the largest city in the state). Wheeling was once a very elegant and wealthy city, and a major center for commerce. Much of that elegance is still intact, but it is slowly rotting and being bulldozed away.

The Mayor of Wheeling has proposed to demolish a large section of East Wheeling (a National Historic District) for a baseball field. This neighborhood, adjacent to downtown Wheeling, contains a large collection of Victorians, many of which were built before the Civil War.

I have taken care to photograph every building in the section, bordered by 15th Street, 16th Street, Wood St., and McColloch St., which may soon be only a memory, of a time when Wheeling was a city of pride, elegance, and optimism, as reflected in its buildings.

UPDATE:  The section of the East Wheeling Historic District documented below has been completely demolished by the city of Wheeling.

To see pictures of the recently demolished Jefferson School in East Wheeling, click here.



























10 comments:

  1. Thank you for documenting this fine group of late 19th century buildings. With a little love this could be a great neighborhood but all too often "you don't miss your water till your well runs dry" as the old saying goes.

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  2. I guess I see why the mayor wants to demolish some of these buildings - some of them ARE rather unsightly - but I believe that the majority of them can be saved or remodeled, if people are willing to put in that amount of money to save these buildings. From the looks of it, though they may not seem like it, they are a big part of old, Victorian Wheeling history. Save the buildings!

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  3. That Richardsonian building is awesome! This is tragic, and the pace of these types of demos across the country are really adding up. In a BAD way.

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  4. Save the buildings. Recall the Mayor!

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  5. Some of us are still trying to fight this. If you want to stop the demolition, call Mayor McKenzie and express your opinion. (304) 234-3604

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  6. This is heartbreaking. My mother's family was from Wheeling - she was born in 1918, and I remember many visits there as a child when the city was prospering from the steel mills and glass factories. It's too bad some sort of grant can't be obtained to restore and preserve these buildings.

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  7. circusvueJune 05, 2012

    Thank you so much for the great photography. If these disappear, you have the next best thing, at least it will be documented. This is so very sad and tragic. It is symbolic of a declining America where wealth is concentrated in the hands of the extreme wealthy few and the many have had to abandon their buildings. I hope at least the details and special woodworking gingerbread additions will be salvaged by some restoration company for resale also the mantels and inside effects on these buildings. circusvue

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  8. As a preservationist and architect it saddens me to hear of the potential demise of these wonderful historic structures. These structures would be highly valued and treasured in my community, although we experienced the demolition craze in the 1960's and 1970's. Wheeling has a proud history, and it would be a shame if their citizens do not fully appreciate it and maintain their hertiage.

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  9. What a foolish waste to destroy this historic district, to make way for what? Most likely the beautiful craftsmanship depicted here will be replaced with run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter, boring, cheaply constructed new development. Wheeling planners have really let their forbears and their descendants down.

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  10. Very interesting ... I know a lot of those buildings in Pittsburgh and Wheeling plus knew some of their owners.
    Keep up the good work.

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