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Volunteers Sought To ‘Heart Bomb’ Wheeling Buildings

Photo Provided - The 1400 block of Market Street in downtown Wheeling is among properties slated to be “heart bombed” by volunteers showcasing historic buildings in downtown Wheeling.

Volunteer Wheeling and Wheeling Heritage are asking local crafters and the community to show a little love for dilapidated, but historic buildings in downtown Wheeling.

The organizations are asking the public to join in on a “heart bombing” public art exhibit, featuring dilapidated buildings in downtown Wheeling. Cut-out hearts and other Valentines Day related decorations will be placed on the buildings.

The goal of heart bombing is to bring attention to buildings in Wheeling that have the potential to be restored and put back into use, explained Alexandra Panas, communications manager for Wheeling Heritage.

“Heart bombing is like sending a love letter to our city’s historic buildings,” she explained.

Volunteer Wheeling is asking the community to participate in crafting items for the heart bombing of downtown Wheeling. A crafting event is set for 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Wheeling Heritage office, 1400 Main St. Materials and light refreshments will be provided, so volunteers just need to show up with their creativity, Panas said.

Volunteers then will meet at the Wheeling Artisan Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5 before going out to decorate buildings.

Among the buildings set to receive decorative love are the Blue Church building at 1206 Byron St. in East Wheeling, and the 1400 block of Market Street — which is currently being marketed for development by the city.

The decorations will remain on display though February 20, Panas said.

Students at Wheeling Country Day School and Sikora Montessori School are participating by making decorations in their classrooms, Panas said.

She said others wanting to take part, but not able to come to the crafting event, may make decorations at home and drop them off at the Wheeling Heritage offices.

“Another building we’re looking at is the former Kaufmann’s building on Main Street, and the former Subway Building near the Health Plan on Market Plaza,” Panas said. “We hope people in the community see these buildings, and realize their potential.”

The concept of heart bombing began as a grassroots campaign organized by the Buffalo (New York) Young Preservationists in 2012. The Wheeling Young Preservationists hosted successful heart bombing displays in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018, according to Panas.

“We have selected more than 10 buildings that are vacant, available, or in the process of being restored that we think deserve some extra attention.

“It’s easy to pass by these places without thinking much about how they contribute to the cultural fabric of the city – this heart bombing display is a visible declaration from the community that says we care about the future of these buildings and want to see them preserved,” she said.

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