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South Wheeling Eyed As Historic District

WHEELING — “South of tracks” — people often used this phrase to describe the eclectic neighborhood of South Wheeling. Once a bustling community with homes and commerce existing together along the gridwork of streets, South Wheeling has undergone many changes while maintaining its historic past.

For the past two years, Wheeling Heritage, dedicated the work of Joy Williams, a full-time AmeriCorps member to conduct an architectural survey of the neighborhood to identify portions of it as a potential National Register historic district.

If approved, South Wheeling would join Wheeling’s current 11 listings on the National Register of Historic Places. They 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

∫ Woodsdale/Edgewood Nieghborhood

Wheeling Heritage Project Manager Rebekah Karelis said if the designation is approved, those properties located within the district will be eligible for tax credits and development grants that could spur economic development and revitalization in that area of Wheeling.

While considered mostly a honor, it does provide the impetus for property owners to restore their properties in the former of tax credits and grants where available.

South Wheeling became part of Wheeling in 1870, and the area developed as a significant industrial center at the turn of the 20th century.

Karelis said Williams’ work is complete, however, the next step is for Wheeling Heritage to hire a consultant to complete a review of the proposal with state historic preservation officiails.

“The work has been such a challenge. South Wheeling was once more populated with businesses, house and churches,” Karelis observed,

Not all of South Wheeling is included in the proposed district. Karelis said the area in contention are 35th Street to 39th Street, Water Street to Jacob Street. She noted the configuration is rather “jagged” and includes 133 properties with a mix of contributing and non-contributing properties.

“Eoff Street is really remarkable in comparison to other streets. It’s pretty densely packed still with a lot of Victorian era properties,” Karelis said.

The proposed area also focuses on the west side of Jacob Street around the former Cooey-Bentz store building.

Karelis said a meeting with South Wheeling propery owners last week was very positive. In fact, several property owners whose buildings were not included in the proposal wanted to know how to get aboard the project, she added.

The review process and actual designation takes times and could run into 2019 until a formal designation is declared.

Karelis envisions another meeting will be called in August to bring residents up to date on the project.

“The National Register can be miscontrued as government taking control of your property or telling property owners what they can and can’t do with their property. That’s not the case. It’s only a designation, but it can provide tax advantages,” Karelis said.

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