Capitol Glass in Local Hands

WHEELING – Belmont College building preservation students are taking up a new challenge: Restoring windows in the upstairs ballroom at the historic Capitol Theatre.

“For the students to restore the magnificent window above the marquee will greatly enhance the appearance from within the theater, and ensure the preservation of one of the major focal points of the structure’s magnificent front facade,” said Bekah Karelis, historian for Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp.

Karelis, a 2007 graduate of the Belmont College building program, is one of the main local leaders committed to bringing the 1928-built Capitol back to its grandeur. The theater is owned by the private Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau – and managed by the public Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Entertainment Authority – but WNHAC officials have also been very involved with reopening and restoration of the venue.

“Since the Wheeling CVB purchased and reopened the theater, it has been working to correct fire and safety issues, promoting the customer experience, and preserving the historic fabric of the old theater. The wood windows on the front facade are in bad shape, and no one really knows if they have been worked on since construction in 1928,” she said.

The preservation program’s Doors & Windows class, led by instructor Cathie Senter, is taking up the project.

“Because the Capitol Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, all restoration work must follow the (U.S.) Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation,” said Senter.

“Compliance with the standards will ensure that a high level of historic integrity is used while the restoration work is being completed.”

Students working on the window restoration include: Melody Cameron, Adena; Molly Dickerson, Wheeling; Brittney DiProsperis, St. Clairsville; Jacob Fetzer, Sarahsville; Katone Sims, Bridgeport; and Cherryl Thompson, Steubenville.

“It was perfect timing when instructor Senter approached the Wheeling Convention and Visitor’s Bureau about taking on a project for their Doors and Windows class,” said Karelis.

According to Senter, emphasis will be placed on retaining as much of the original materials as possible by using the gentlest means possible.

“Due to water and UV damage from the sun, the existing window sills are in fair to poor condition due to a significant amount of checks in the wood. We have removed the paint down to the bare wood and are treating the checks with epoxy consolidant,” she said.

The students will also remove the window sashes so they can be taken to the class labs for work. To minimize any glass breakage, each pane of glass will be numbered and removed prior to removing the sashes.

“Once the sashes are at the labs, we will remove the paint down to bare wood, treat the wood with a conditioner, make any repairs necessary, prime and paint,” said Senter.

“The students will thoroughly clean the glass and reinstall the panes back in their original locations. Similar to the window sills, the lower wood glazing stops have also be subjected to standing water and UV deterioration. We anticipate having to replicate the majority of those stops.”

As renovations and improvements at the Capitol proceed, the venue continues offering a wide variety of entertainment. The bureau purchased the theater – formerly known as the Capitol Music Hall – from LiveNation in mid-2009. That same year, the bureau entered a contract with the authority to manage and book events for the Capitol for $1 per year. This is the same entity responsible for managing WesBanco Arena.

Upcoming events at the Capitol include a concert by the Oak Ridge Boys on Oct. 5, while the 2012-13 Broadway at the Capitol season is set as follows:

– West Side Story, Nov. 5

– Mannheim Christmas, Dec. 18

– Beauty and the Beast, Jan. 9

– A Chorus Line, Feb. 6

– Elvis Lives, April 9.