It made good sense to stop in Wheeling overnight as we made our way home on the National Road. It’s just shy of 300 miles from Baltimore to Wheeling, and a bit more than 300 miles from Wheeling to Indianapolis, and that’s about as close to smack-dab-in-the-middle as it gets.
It also made excellent sense to contact the writer of The Bell Rang, Ryan Stanton, since he often writes about Wheeling history and architecture (and frequently comments here). I’ve had great fun meeting bloggers with interests similar to mine when I’m on the road. He was not only glad to meet up, but offered a tour of Wheeling’s sights.
Ryan brought his dad along as we toured downtown and the famous suspension bridge over the Ohio River. I’ll write about the suspension bridge in my next post. There’s enough in downtown Wheeling to crowd it out of this post!
One of Ryan’s favorite subjects is Henry Schmulbach, a brewer key to Wheeling’s growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He built this 13-story building, which was completed in 1907, to be his headquarters. It remains Wheeling’s tallest building. It’s so tall that I couldn’t get back far enough for my camera’s lens to capture the whole building; I had to take several photos and let Autostitch bring them together. See Ryan’s blog for more about the Schmulbach building.
Ryan also writes about this building, the National Bank of West Virginia, and its unusual entrance. (Thanks to Autostitch for helping me frame this building, too.)
Sadly, all in Wheeling is not quite as well cared for as these two great buildings. Many of Wheeling’s downtown buildings have fallen into disrepair. This poor building was the worst I saw – it had recently burned.
Before I could get too depressed about Wheeling’s state of decay, we came upon this great theater, its neon sign lit in defiance of the morning sun.
Wheeling’s best days may currently be behind it, but its downtown has plenty of potential. Here’s hoping that better days are still ahead.