‘Old Town’ on Parade

Tour Designed to Save Antebellum Structures

Photos Provided
From left: the Joseph Hedges House, 734 Main St., is half of a twin townhouse built circa 1894; the William Goering House, 701 Main St., is the only true Second Empire structure in the North Wheeling Historic District; the George W. Eckhart House, 810 Main St., constructed in 1892, is a fine example of a Queen Anne building.

Photos Provided From left: the Joseph Hedges House, 734 Main St., is half of a twin townhouse built circa 1894; the William Goering House, 701 Main St., is the only true Second Empire structure in the North Wheeling Historic District; the George W. Eckhart House, 810 Main St., constructed in 1892, is a fine example of a Queen Anne building.

In an effort to save two antebellum buildings in North Wheeling, 16 other historic houses in the neighborhood are going to be open for tours from 1-5 p.m. next Sunday.

Wheeling resident Jay Frey, one of the organizers of the tour, said the fund-raising campaign represents “a great private-public partnership” for preservation.

Partners in the effort to save the two endangered buildings are the city of Wheeling, Wheeling Heritage, Victorian Old Town Association, Wheeling Young Preservationists and Friends of Wheeling.

Jeanne Finstein, president of Friends of Wheeling, said, “The houses at 722 and 724 Main St. are in serious disrepair and in danger of failing. Their loss, and the potential damage to the remaining building in the row of three, would leave a gap in the streetscape. The good news is that there is now a coordinated effort to save these buildings and return them to attractive and useful dwellings, enhancing the neighborhood rather than detracting from it.”

After a facade on one of the rowhouses was found to be bulging,Wheeling Heritage bought the building, removed the false front and stabilized the structure, Finstein said. When structural problems caused by water damage were discovered in the adjoining house, the city acquired that property, she said.

City officials agreed to allocate money — that might have been spent to raze the building — toward stabilization of the structure.

Wheeling Heritage also committed funds for the project, she said. The house tour is being organized as a fundraiser to make up the shortfall.

The goal is to generate enough funds to repair the exterior of the two rowhouses, then sell the property to a developer to restore the houses’ interior, Finstein said.

Houses on the walking tour are located in the 600 to 900 blocks of Main Street, along with two houses on Market Street. Histories of the homes and their early residents will be shared.

The Oglebay Park trolley will provide transportation from the surface lot on the west side of the 10th Street garage to 727 Main St., which marks the middle section of the tour.

Tour houses will be clearly identified. “People can pick and choose which houses they want to visit and in which order,” Finstein said.

Reduced-price tour tickets can be purchased in advance from Wheeling Heritage, third floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center, from Monday through Friday; Eckhart House, 810 Main St., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; or the UPS Store, Washington Avenue, during regular business hours. Full-price tickets can be purchased next Sunday at the Friends of Wheeling House, 921 Main St., or at some of the other tour houses.

In addition, a pre-tour patron party will be held from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Robert W. Hazlett-Friends of Wheeling House, 921 Main St. All revenue from both events will go directly toward saving the two buildings. Frey is taking reservations for the patron party at 304-312-1787 until Tuesday.

The patron party, chaired by Frey and Michael Hires and hosted by the Victorian Old Town Association and Friends of Wheeling, will feature a small plate dinner catered by Charlie Schlegel and music provided by guitarist Tom Godfrey. Guests are encouraged to wear Victorian or Civil War attire. Party patrons receive complimentary admission to the tour.

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Finstein said the two buildings in need of repair, along with an adjacent row house at 720 Main St., have long and interesting histories. The endangered houses, however, will not be on the tour because of safety concerns.

She said, “They were built around 1850 and were owned in their early years by the Hughes family. Brothers Thomas Hughes (a tailor) and Alfred Hughes (a physician) signed the Ordinance of Secession at the beginning of the Civil War, urging Virginia to leave the Union, and were labeled ‘traitors.’ Later, Alfred refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Union and was imprisoned for a time in Camp Chase, Columbus.”

Their sister, Eliza Clark Hughes, a homeopathic physician, is believed to have been the first female doctor in Wheeling. She supported the South, but eventually signed the oath of allegiance. Another brother, John, served for 17 years on Wheeling City Council, until his death from typhoid in 1870.

Charles H. Berry owned 724 Main St. from the 1890s through 1920. Finstein said, “He was also the owner of Charles H. Berry Supply Co., a business that manufactured rope and twine for the riverboat industry and dealt in ‘pitch, rosin, oakum and leather belting, firebrick, fishing tackle, etc.’ Berry Supply still exists and is thought to be Wheeling’s oldest surviving business.”

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Sites on next Sunday’s tour include:

∫ Friends of Wheeling House, 921 Main St., a high-style, Second Empire home built in 1887 by retired Wheeling physician Robert W. Hazlett. The three-story home displays fine workmanship in both the interior and exterior.

∫ Edward and Jessie List Hazlett House, 823 Main St., a three-story, Queen Anne-style structure built in 1891 by wealthy businessman and banker Henry K. List for his daughter, Jessie, wife of Edward Hazlett, prominent banker and investment broker.

∫ John K. List House, 821 Main St., built by prosperous banker Henry K. List for his son around 1893. It is primarily of the Queen Anne style.

∫ Robert Gibson House, 817 Main St., a two-story Greek Revival structure built in the late 1850s by a “tobacconist.”

∫ Seybold Apartments, 814 Main St., a three-story building owned by steamboat engineer John J. Seybold. The first city directory showing its residents is dated 1911-12. With the only white facade in North Wheeling, the building stands out for its hue and its classical revival design.

∫ George W. Eckhart House, 810 Main St., built in 1892 by a wealthy banker. With most of its original architectural features well preserved, the three-story, red brick townhouse is a fine example of a Queen Anne building.

∫ George Boyd House, 741 Main St., built in the 1860s in the Italianate style for a lawyer and judge.

∫ Joseph Hedges House, 734 Main St., built circa 1894 for a traveling clothing salesman. Half of a twin townhouse, it stands on the former site of Fourth Presbyterian Church.

∫ Irwin-Mathison House, 727 Main St., the homestead circa 1865 of Samuel Irwin, an Ohio County sheriff. A subsequent owner, Scottish immigrant George Mathison, was a prominent businessman and insurance agent.

∫ Alfred Marks House, 725 Main St., the residence of a riverboat engineer circa 1850s. The house is a vernacular brick, two-story structure.

∫ William Goering House, 701 Main St., where a bookkeeper and treasurer of Central Glass Co. resided. The house is the only true Second Empire structure and one of the few free-standing homes in the North Wheeling Historic District.

∫ Phillips-Moser House, 655 Main St., a Federal-style house built probably in 1843 by the family of Arthur Phillips, a major manufacturer of steamboat boilers. His granddaughter, Nell, and her husband, pharmacist Albert Moser, later lived in the house.

∫ Arthur M. Phillips House, 653 Main St., dating possibly to 1831, which makes it one of the oldest houses in Wheeling. The original owner was a pioneer builder of steam engines.

∫ Edward Kramer House, 624 Main St., a two-and-one-half-story residence, circa 1901, whose first occupant was a cigar maker.

∫ Reiss-Beltz House, 805 Market St., built of vernacular design around 1874 by German immigrant and carpenter Mathew Reiss. The second owner was August Beltz, a blacksmith and wagon maker.

∫ Scroggins House, 737 Market St., built in the early 1900s by Frank Scroggins, owner of White Swan Laundry. The American Legion Home Corp. bought the property in 1937; American Legion Post 1 occupied it until around 1948-49. It housed the Community Foundation for the Blind (Seeing Hand Association) from 1949-97.

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