South Wheeling Neighborhood Seeks Its Place in History

Photo by Casey Junkins Working to finalize the application for South Wheeling to be added to the National Register of Historic Places are, from left, Heritage Architectural Associates principal Steven Avdakov and senior historic preservation consultant Debbie Griffin, along with Wheeling Heritage Project Manager Rebekah Karelis.


Staff Writer

The portion of the city commonly known as South Wheeling once bustled with so much activity that an incline railway — similar to those still operating in Pittsburgh — transported residents up the hill to a beer garden at Mozart Park.

Though the South Wheeling incline has been but a memory for many years, at least 133 buildings in the neighborhood, including the former Cooey-Bentz building and a home which dates to the 1830s, may soon land on the National Register of Historic Places.

After a recent meeting with residents and property owners regarding the district, officials with Wheeling Heritage selected Heritage Architectural Associates to complete the application process.

Wheeling Heritage Project Manager Rebekah Karelis said if the district is ultimately approved, property owners may be eligible for additional grants, tax credits and other incentives in the ongoing effort of historic preservation.

“The neighborhood was such a melting pot of cultures — people who lived and worked together from various ethnic backgrounds,” Heritage Architectural Associates principal Steven Avdakov said of South Wheeling.

The register is the official list of buildings, structures, objects, and sites recognized for their importance to local, state, or national history. To make the list, the property must retain its historic integrity, and may be recognized for its connections to American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture.

Currently, the proposed district includes 133 properties in an area which includes Water, Chapline and Jacob streets from 35th to 39th streets. However, Karelis said the district could still expand to include other properties.

Karelis said the project must be submitted to the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office for consideration by Aug. 1. If approved, the district will be listed on the register as early as January.

“A listing on the National Register can help to spur preservation and investment in the neighborhood,” Karelis said.

If the area receives the designation, it will join several other Wheeling neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places. These include Centre Wheeling, Centre Market Square, Chapline Street Row, East Wheeling, Highland Park, Monroe Street East, National Road Corridor, North Wheeling, Wheeling Island, Wheeling Warehouse, and the Woodsdale/Edgwood neighborhood.