New Wheeling History Museum Still Under Discussion
It’s been more than two years since Wheeling celebrated its 250th birthday, and local officials announced their idea to start a Wheeling History museum for the city.
Little has transpired on the museum project since that time, but Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said the project is still being discussed.
“Plans for a Wheeling (History) Museum and Visitor’s Center were sidetracked a bit in recent years — but are not dead, “ Elliott said. “The city wants to be a part of an overall project here, but the driving force behind it has come from both Wheeling Heritage and the CVB (Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau)…
“The long and short of it is that we are collectively exploring grant and other funding opportunities to get to a position where we can move forward with a joint project.”
The chore of finding grant money for the project falls to Wheeling Heritage.
Alex Weld, executive director of Wheeling Heritage, said the group is still “in the feasibility stage” of seeking a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
She said Wheeling Heritage is working with a consultant to determine what is needed to establish a Wheeling history museum, but the group is “potentially looking at a $100,000 grant.”
The grant comes with a 50/50 match requirement, so $50,000 would have to be generated locally for a $100,000 reward, Weld said. The city of Wheeling and the Wheeling Convention and Visitors bureau would partner with Wheeling Heritage on the project.
She acknowledged the initial thought of establishing a Wheeling history museum created much anticipation.
“Everyone was so excited, but I think we put the cart before the horse,” Weld said. “We realized we needed to do the background work.”
Former Wheeling Independence Hall Director Travis Henline initially was appointed museum project manager, but he is no longer in that position, according to Weld.
She isn’t sure what is next for the project.
“There is no clear answer, but I would like to think it is possible,” Weld said.
She said local resident Jay Frey, who served as chairman of the Wheeling 250 Committee, is chairing the Wheeling history museum committee. The committee is currently in the process of data gathering and determining the best path toward establishing the museum, according to Weld.
Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling CVB, said the bureau wants “to have a presence” in the history museum, wherever it might be located.
He expects the feasibility study to be finished in September.
“Travis (Henline) was able to demonstrate it is a viable thing to do,” O’Brien said. “The project has evolved into being a cultural center, visitors center, and a welcome to West Virginia center. It is more than just a museum.”
“It’s a long-term project. We first thought about it two years ago, but it is a long-term investment. They are doing their due diligence, as they should be. If it is viable they should do it. If it is not, go to Plan B.”