The Blue Church is the second oldest church in downtown Wheeling, withstanding the test of time for 178 years and it’s seen several different congregations. In fact it’s older than the state of West Virginia, itself. Now the church is on the road to becoming a gathering place of a different sort.
Just over a year ago a group of visionaries, saw potential in the building that may needed to be tore down, so they purchased the property.
Now they wish to breath some new life into the mature marvel.
Built before the Civil War the Blue Church on 12th and Byron Streets, in East Wheeling, may look run down on the exterior, but inside there’s a party going on every month for First Fridays.
It was up until just a couple of months ago that the building was still home to the Church of God Saints.
“We had developed a friendship with the congregation, they had let us know that the building was for sale and then some members of the Wheeling Young Preservationists had heard that people were looking at it heavily and even possibly for demolition,” said Jeremy Morris, Executive Director of Wheeling National Heritage Area.
Looking passed the wrinkled exterior of the elderly building, one could see the beautiful architecture.
If the walls could talk, they have stories to plenty; from seeing slaves attend worship in the balcony, to seeing Don Knotts tie the knot with his first wife, before heading to Mayberry.
“It’s a gorgeous church, it’s a great example of Greek Revival architecture, stands proudly on the hillside, here in East Wheeling and we wanted to protect it from demolition.”
The property has been purchased by Wheeling National Heritage Area, through funds raised by public and foundational donations and their vision is to use the building as a venue to house performance arts, capable of seating some 300 plus people and they’ve already hosted a few concerts already.
“We’ve done a few First Friday concerts, February and then this past month and, and we intend on doing First Friday Concerts every month and we’ll have some other shows in-between.”
The next First Friday is June 5th and will feature headlining act, Jacob Thomas Jr. A Nashville singer/songwriter, as well as Gordon Vincent, and Jacob Taylor.
The Wheeling National Heritage Area is looking volunteers to help bring the Blue Church back to life and could also use more donations to move the renovations along. If you would like to help out, you’re urged to contact their organization.