The National Road Corridor Historic District [†] is important for its broad range of architecturally significant examples of late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture. The period of significance for this district extends from the founding of Greenwood Cemetery in 1866 to the end of the housing boom in 1930.
The National, or Cumberland, Road was completed to Wheeling in 1818, in fulfillment of an act of Congress passed in 1806. The road became a major highway in the northern United States, as emigrants traveled West, and products, produce, and livestock were shipped between East and West. Unfortunately, the tremendous amount of traffic on the National Road gradually declined with the ever increasing reliance on the nation's expanding railroad network. After the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad lines reached Wheeling in 1853, the Cumberland Road saw a marked decrease in traffic on what was once a national thoroughfare. However, the road did continue to be important as a local transportation route through Ohio County, and it figured prominently in the growth of Wheeling during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Wheeling is situated between the Ohio River on the west and large hills on the east. The city today is thought of in terms of distinct neighborhoods. These neighborhoods along the National Road east of Wheeling's downtown waterfront (Fulton, Leatherwood, Woodsdale, Edgwood, Pleasant Valley, Park View, and Elm Grove) were once separate communities that have now been incorporated into Wheeling's city limits. This corridor historic district nomination is concerned with the resources along the National Road in the areas of Woodsdale, Edgwood, Pleasant Valley, and Park View. It also includes three cul-de-sacs branching off the National Road, which have exceptional early twentieth century homes. As Wheeling grew, its streetcar system impacted the city's development and the growth of the outlying communities that would eventually become part of the city proper. On July 1, 1867, the Citizens Railway Company ran the first horse-drawn streetcars in Wheeling. The line ran from the southern end of town to the McLure House on the corner of 12th and Main Streets in the downtown area. The service was expanded to North Wheeling by the end of July. By 1877 Citizens Company had five miles of track with service extending south to ^Snd Street and across the suspension bridge and island to Bridgeport, Ohio.
In 1874 the Wheeling and Elm Grove Railway Company was incorporated by a dozen of Wheeling's leading businessmen, several of whom owned property along the National Road and future route of the streetcar lines. The company had finished four miles of track that ran along the National Road and extended beyond Wheeling's city limits, past Hornbrook Park in Park View by 1877. Cars on the route were horse-drawn as many of the farmers along the Cumberland Road protested the use of steam engines. They feared that the land adjacent to the road and route of the railway lines would have to be abandoned and refused to believe the company's promise of noiseless engines. The company continued to fight for the right to use steam power. They were allowed to use steam engines east of Wheeling sometime before September 1883. However, during the fight for steam power, that form of energy had been superseded by the use of electricity. The Citizens Company had already abandoned horse-drawn cars in favor of electricity by mid August 1887. In 1900 all of the streetcar lines in and about Wheeling, with the exception of Wheeling and Elm Grove Company, were consolidated under the Wheeling Traction Company.
The city and interurban railway system had a great impact on the growth of the Wheeling Creek valley. After the Civil War this area was mostly undeveloped, and Wheeling was separated from the village of Elm Grove by several miles of farmland. Beginning in the late 1880's the farms began to be broken up and sold. The period between 1890 and 1910 saw the area along the National Road expand in an "almost continuous succession of suburban centers." The interurban lines allowed easy access to Wheeling's business district from the outlying communities. Although the desire to move into the country and away from the city was responsible in part for the growth of Wheeling's suburbs, the development was strengthened by a series of floods. During the mid-nineteenth century, many of Wheeling's leading citizens and industrialists lived on Wheeling Island, which was easily covered with water during a flood. The worst flood in Wheeling's history to that point, and the second worst in its history to date, occurred on February 7, 1884, when the Ohio River crested at a height of 58.6 feet. The entire island and South Wheeling were covered with water. The downtown area of the city flooded, and the Centre Market was covered completely. Many businesses suffered heavy losses, and many homes were damaged. The total damage was estimated at $4,000,000. Communication with nearby communities proved impossible, the railroads and streetcars stopped working, and the city's water works shut down temporarily. More floods followed, with two occurring only six days apart in February of 1891. Over the next 89 years from 1884 to 1913, Wheeling had seventeen floods. It seems that this period of heavy flooding corresponds to the period of rapid suburban development along the National Road, and suggests that families tended to move off the Island and into the Wheeling Creek valley.
The architecture along the corridor of the National Road is exceptional with styles ranging from late Victorian Italianate, Shingle and Queen Anne fashions to early twentieth century Neoclassical, Colonial, Mission, and Tudor Revivals. A number of the homes and buildings have been identified as being designed by noted local architects Edward B. Franzheim, and Frederick F. Faris, who practiced in the Wheeling area from roughly 1895 to the 1940's. In many cases the homes were placed on sizable lots with stone walls delineating the front property lines. Only a few of these homes have since been lost when they were removed so the land could be developed for apartment complexes of highrises. With the accessibility of the streetcar line, early 19S0's townhouse and apartment buildings began to appear near the Edgington Lane business district. People could easily ride into Wheeling's downtown to work or shop. As the outlying areas became increasingly populated, features other than houses, such as cemeteries, a park, churches, and schools began to locate along the National Road outside of Wheeling. Greenwood Cemetery had already been located along the west side of the National Road in what was to become the Park View neighborhood. The cemetery was incorporated on 1866. Its 37 1/8 acres were purchased from the Hildreth Brothers. The grounds were laid out by James Gilchrist, a civil engineer, and the first interment took place in July of 1866. Many of Wheeling's wealthy citizens and industrial entrepreneurs were buried in this cemetery, which now encompasses 100 acres and contains 34,500 burials. The monuments and statuary found in the cemetery are massive and richly ornamented. The mausoleums have a diversity of styles. A short distance to the south along the National Road is Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Bishop R. V. Whelan purchased the 38 acres for the Catholic cemetery from Edward Larkin and S.H.B. Carter. The cemetery chapel's cornerstone was laid on August 87, 1876. After the Victorian Gothic chapel was finished in 1879, Bishop Whelan's remains were interred in one of its vaults. Nearly all of the Bishops of Wheeling are buried in this cemetery. The first interment in Mt. Calvary occurred in September 1878, and by 1908 there had been 3,000 burials. Both of these cemeteries contain outstanding examples of funerary architecture.
Adjacent to Mt. Calvary Cemetery to the south was Hornbrook Park (now Wheeling Park). The property was owned by Thomas Hornbrook, who had his summer residence there. Hornbrook planted botanical gardens and opened his property to the public. The park became a popular resort. After Hornbrook's death, the park was acquired by Anton Reymann, a local brewer and president of the Wheeling and Elm Grove Railroad, who opened a beer garden and an amusement park. The land was then owned by Wheeling Public Service Company before it was purchased by the City of Wheeling in 1984. Today the park contains many of the special features donated by the citizens of Wheeling when it became a city park. These features include the limestone gates at each entrance, the lake, the aviary, and a rock garden with a fountain. It also contained monuments honoring veterans of the Civil War and World War I. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument was placed in the park after the county courthouse was replaced in 1956. Wheeling Park is also the home of a Madonna of the Trail. These statues were placed along the National Old Trails Road, of which the Cumberland Road forms a part, in 1988 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The twenty foot tall algonite statue depicts a woman with a baby in her arms and her son holding to her skirt, and is intended to honor pioneer women who moved west and settled in wilderness areas. There were twelve of these monuments placed the length of the transcontinental route of the National Road, or what became U.S. 40 in 1986, one for each state through which the highway passed.
As the neighborhoods grew, schools and churches were constructed to meet the needs of the outlying communities. Triadelphia High School (now Triadelphia Middle School) was built immediately adjacent to the National Road in 1917-1919. Its architect was Frederick F. Faris, a popular Wheeling architect, who also designed Madison School on Wheeling Island and the Bridgeport, Ohio, high school as well as several elementary schools in Ohio County. In 1923 he also designed the Arts Building that was built behind Triadelphia High School. Spiritual needs of the residents were met by various religious organizations, some of which built churches along the National Road. Vance Memorial Church was constructed in 1896 to house a nondenominational Sunday School, although a year after the chapel was constructed it became a Presbyterian church. A mission church from one of the downtown congregations became Edgwood Lutheran Church in 1913. A third church to locate along the National Road during this time period is St. Michael's Catholic Church. Although the present church was completed in 1951, the Catholic school next to it was completed in 1930. Also associated with St. Michael's along the National Road are a convent and a rectory.
With the increasing popularity of automobiles and motoring, the Cumberland Road again became the scene of heavy traffic. In 1912 the road became part of the National Old Trails Toad, a trans continental route designated by the Missouri Old Trails Road Association. In 1916 Congress passed a federal aid road act, and the Bureau of Public Roads began operating. The National Road again became a major highway and carries more traffic than it had during stagecoach days. Locally, the advent of the automobile allowed more people to move from Wheeling to its suburbs. Living "out the pike" became stylish, and more middle class families built homes there. In 1919 Wheeling's city limits were expanded to include its suburbs. As the housing boom continued through the 1920's the neighborhoods grew, and aside from small business districts near Edgington Lane and in Elm Grove, they have retained their residential character. By 1930 there was a marked decrease in the number of houses being built due to the economic conditions at the onset of the Great Depression. The next housing boom would not take place until after World War II .
The stretch of the National Road Corridor Historic District on the east side of Wheeling has significant architecture ranging from the high styles to the moderate income homes built by Wheeling's business and industrial leaders at the turn of the century. The advent of the streetcar system in the 1870's led to the development of the area from country farms into several small communities. The character of the corridor is exceptional and well represents Wheeling's architectural development after the Civil War up to the beginning of the Great Depression. This district is probably the finest display of residential architecture of this period in the state of West Virginia.
† Jourdan, Katherine M.; Laura J. Pfeifer, National Road Corridor Historic District, nomination document, 1992, National Register of Historic Places, Washngton, D.C.
Elmwood Place • National Road • Oak Park Avenue