In an early celebration of Flag Day, the Wheeling chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented an American flag and stand to Wheeling attorney Patrick Cassidy for display inside his downtown facility, the First State Capitol Building.
Joan McClelland, regent of the DAR chapter, also presented Cassidy with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of his work to restore and preserve West Virginia's first capitol and to thank him for allowing the DAR to meet there. The presentation and a luncheon took place in the building Wednesday, June 11.
Cassidy shared highlights of the building's early history. The structure was owned originally by Linsly Institute and housed its Lancasterian Academy. In 1863, Linsly officials rented the building to the new state of West Virginia which had established Wheeling as its capital.
Arthur Boreman, West Virginia's first governor, delivered his inaugural address on the sidewalk in front of the Eoff Street building. Cassidy remarked that it was interesting, in the midst of the Civil War, that the theme of Boreman's address was education. He said the new governor talked of "how we need free, public education in the state of West Virginia."
The West Virginia Legislature took several historic actions when it met at the Wheeling site. Cassidy said the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution were "ratified (by the Legislature) in this building."
In addition, he said, when it was proposed that "a national cemetery for our fallen heroes" be established in Alexandria County, Va., "that decision was made in this building." The burial grounds is what is known now as Arlington National Cemetery, he pointed out.
McClelland also presented certificates of appreciation from the DAR chapter to J.C. Douglas Dalby, general manager of the Wheeling Park Commission, and to Jeremy Morris, executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp., to thank them for their assistance with the restoration of the Madonna of the Trail statue along National Road. The restored Madonna was rededicated by the DAR last summer.
Dalby noted that the history of the Madonna of the Trail statue, which was dedicated in July 1928, and the Wheeling Park Commission are linked closely. The statue stands on Wheeling Park land.
In December 1924, a fundraising campaign was launched in Wheeling to raise $350,000 to buy the property that is now Wheeling Park and to equip the new park. On Christmas Eve 1924, it was announced that the large sum had been raised in only three weeks, Dalby said. The Wheeling Park Commission was established with five appointed members in January 1925, he said.
In 1926, Earl W. Oglebay died and willed his property to the residents of Wheeling and its vicinity. It took almost three years before city officials agreed to take on the "awesome" project which was developed as Oglebay Park, Dalby said.
McClelland said the DAR's state convention will be held at Oglebay Park in April 2015. The group's state gathering is held at Oglebay every five years, she added.
Meanwhile, Morris indicated that it is an honor for WNHAC to be part of the effort to maintain and preserve the Madonna of the Trail and to be a steward of the monument for the future. McClelland said a new large bronze plaque has been placed on the restored statue.