Searching For Historic Property

WHEELING – South Wheeling is the only neighborhood in Wheeling not to have a historic National Register district designation.

That may soon change.

PreserveWV AmeriCorps member Joy Williams is working with the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation and other groups to update the historic property inventory conducted in the early 1990s. The ultimate goal is to draft and submit a National Register nomination for South Wheeling to the State Historic Preservation Office in Charleston.

The scope of the inventory includes properties from 29th to 48th streets and Water to Wetzel streets.

An Alabama native with degrees in interior design and historic preservation, Williams has the education, research and organizational skills to oversee the service project. Since last October she has spent many office hours researching South Wheeling’s history.

Standing down the street from the now-abandoned building that used to house the Wheeling Pottery Company, Williams described the South Wheeling of years past as filled with businesses such as LaBelle Nail Works, Schmulbach Brewery and Wheeling Tile Company.

“It was definitely more of an industrial hub than I realized. … There was so much industry in this area. It was its own little contained part of the city,” she said, adding convenience stores on almost every block meant people could shop in the area as well as work and live there.

Now transitioning to the field work portion of the project, Williams has recruited help from Belmont College’s building preservation and restoration program. As part of their research and documentation class under instructor Cathie Senter, seven students began surveying South Wheeling properties March 10. Beginning with the 3100 block, they will spend Mondays composing building descriptions and taking photos in the field. Wednesdays are lab days as Williams visits Belmont College to guide students in sorting through collected materials.

Student Kevin Finn appreciates the opportunity to step outside the classroom and study how buildings have changed over the years.

“It’s a lot more exciting than a lecture,” Finn said.

Finn and his classmates will continue field work in South Wheeling until the semester’s end. At that time, Williams hopes to gain support from local volunteers.

She is also working alongside the South Wheeling Preservation Alliance and has spoken with various residents about their experience with the district.