Making Statement About Preservation

It is easy to talk about preserving Wheeling’s historic old buildings. Making it happen is something else again. Money and hard work are required.

Good for the Young Wheeling Preservationists organization for supplying some of the latter. Their effort has both practical and symbolic importance.

On Saturday, members of the group held a “Pitch in for Preservation” event at two old buildings on the city’s riverfront. Volunteers spent much of the day cleaning the structures, at 1107 and 1109 Main Street.

Both buildings are owned by the city. When they were purchased a few years ago, the plan was to demolish them. They had deteriorated to the point that city officials believed the best use of the property was to remove the dilapidated structures.

But new leadership on Wheeling City Council seems to be taking a different approach. As Third Ward Councilman Brian Wilson, a member of the preservationist group, explained, “I think our old buildings in Wheeling are a nonrenewable resource and I think we need to do more and have a more open mind as a government. Demolition shouldn’t be our approach to old buildings anymore, because we’re quickly running out.”

Still, repairing and renovating some of the old buildings can be a costly approach. It can be much cheaper to simply make use of the wrecking ball.

By volunteering their time at the two Main Street structures, the Young Preservationists are reducing the cost of restoring them. Yes, it still will cost money — lots of it — to renovate the structures, but the volunteers have made a start.

That is a dollars-and-cents contribution to preservationism. It also makes a statement, that saving Wheeling’s historic, beautiful old buildings is worth an investment of some elbow grease.