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Demolition Crews Level Historic Hobbs Brockunier House in South Wheeling

photo by: Photo by Shelley Hanson

Tom Doty, owner of Doty Salvage of Moundsville, looks over the Hobbs house demolition site while taking a break on Friday in South Wheeling.

WHEELING – The historic Hobbs Brockunier house in South Wheeling is being razed as promised by its owner who lives in Washington state.

Owner Krista Peng was recently given the OK to demolish the house that she purchased at auction last December for $6,900. Peng originally intended to renovate the building, located at 3530 Eoff St. However, after seeing the structure in person she decided the building would be too expensive to repair, that it was too far gone to save.

Since the house is located within a historic district, the demolition first had to be approved by the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission.

The commission posted information in the neighborhood to let residents know of Peng’s intentions with the building and that a public hearing would be taking place.

Members of the South Wheeling Preservation Alliance and others expressed concern about the building’s planned demise, saying it was historically significant and should be saved instead.

photo by: Photo by Shelley Hanson

An opossum carries her baby on her back while walking away from the Hobbs house demolition site on Friday afternoon.

Peng said she would sell the property for an asking price for $30,000, but the residents ultimately decided that the cost would be too much, and that the building really was in too bad of shape to save.

On her Facebook page, Wheeling Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum expressed her disappointment over the loss of the house. She posted photos of the demolition as well.

“Terribly sad to see an historic building on its final day,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, this is all too common in cities like our own. Without timely intervention, decades of neglect will always yield these results.

“While we can’t turn back time in this case, I’m hopeful looking forward Wheeling will take proactive steps to ensure demolitions like this occur few and far between.”

Ketchum also thanked the alliance and other preservationists in the city for their “valiant effort to save the Hobbs house.”

“We couldn’t save this building, but with quick action we might just save the next,” she wrote.

Peng could not be reached Friday for comment.

At the site on Friday, Tom Doty, owner of Doty Salvage of Moundsville, said about 30 dump truck loads of debris were taken away from the site during demolition. He said there was still some demo work to be done. Afterward the basement area would be filled in, old sidewalks removed and the area reseeded for new grass to grow.

He noted some alliance members came during the demolition process and took away the house’s front porch piers and some windows. Peng agreed during a past commission meeting to allow members of the group to take such items.

When the razing first began Doty said several cats scattered from the house. On Friday a mother opossum could be seen walking in and around the site with a baby opossum on her back. Doty believes the critter may have lived there and was looking for more of her babies.

The house was named after John L. Hobbs, founder of the South Wheeling Glass Works of Hobbs, Brockunier & Co. that operated in the 1800s.

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