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Ohio County

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Wheeling’s Mount Wood Overlook an historic mess

Updated: Monday, April 28 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. – It’s a place to see the entire city, but it’s no longer much to look at.
Wheeling's historic Mount Wood Overlook is now an historic mess filled with graffiti and garbage.
Tonight, we look at the history of what some call “The Castle in North Park,” and why it’s now an abandoned mess.
“I have a feeling it was always a place where people would come, look over the city, over the river, the valley,” Wheeling National Heritage Corp.’s Rebekah Karelis said.
It’s a gorgeous view, and certainly a part of Wheeling's history.
“This is also the spot where Jonathon Zane, Ebenezer Zane and his brothers stood at the top of the hill and decided this is where they would settle,” Karelis said.
Today, the monument sits filled with as much graffiti and garbage as history. What is that history?
“I had heard different things,” Ohio County Magistrate and historian Joe Roxby said. “First off (I heard) that a man built it for his wife. Then I heard his mistress, and then I heard it was a hospital.”
Roxby has studied “The Castle” for years, as he has lived right up the road for much of his life.
Karelis has looked into the story as well, as part of the Wheeling National Heritage Group’s work to restore the cemetery next door.
“It was about the time after the Civil War that they decided to adjoin with the cemetery and they would create a soldier’s cemetery or burial ground,” Karelis said.
She said a ceremony was held with the Governor and a statue of Abraham Lincoln was planned. Years later, in 1925, a doctor bought the property and started his dream.
“The reason he did not finish it was something taken right out of today's headlines,” Roxby said. “It was due to a federal drug indictment.”
Roxby believes the doctor also had his hands in prostitution, specializing in female disease. His office located right where the sale of sex was common in the 20s.
“He also built a laundry down over the hill which would be the business to furnish an obviously lavish lifestyle here,” Roxby said.
That laundry could have been a way to hide money. It was later torn down in the 70s to widen the road.
The doctor spent time in jail and owed the city a hefty fine. He left for Florida, an unfinished dream behind, now the city's problem
“You can't patrol this 24 hours, and it's been defaced,” Roxby said. “It's hard to remove.”
Karelis said Mount Wood Overlook was restored in the late 1980s and 90s, but many continue to litter and abuse the area.
“I am not sure what it's going to take now,” Karelis said. “There is some graffiti and it needs some paint.”
Karelis said there are no plans to clean up the landmark at this point.
The project at the cemetery continues.

Wheeling’s Mount Wood Overlook an historic mess

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