Greater Parkersburg

Wood County Courthouse

Landmarks & Sites

While not every historic structure and site is included, the following list reflects many of the county’s most prominent sites and buildings and gives a glimpse into its glorious past as it impacted the region and state economically, politically and socially.

Please note that many of the places listed are private residences and are not open to the public.  Those that are private are indicated with a (P) following their listing.  We ask your consideration in not attempting to enter these buildings or grounds without permission.  Structures and areas on the National Register of Historic Places are indentified by a (NR) after the description.

The Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau has compiled this information from several sources.  While every effort has been made to insure its accuracy, the Bureau cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.  Unless otherwise stated, all locations are Parkersburg.



Built before 1899, it is the site of first Maxwell car agency, first Chrysler car agency and the first Kaiser-Frazier car agency.  It was formerly was the location Schilling Lumber, Bones Tire Service and Wallbrown Tire.  After standing vacant for 20 years, it was restored and occupied in 1990 by the law offices of Albright, Bradley & Ellison.

Begun in 1899, it is Wood County's fifth courthouse and the third one erected in Court Square on land donated by the heirs of Alexander Parker.  The building is of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture featuring stilted arches and elaborate stone carvings.  Caldwell & Drake of Columbus, Indiana completed it at a cost of $100,000, from plans by L. W. Thomas of Canton, Ohio.  The sandstone used for the exterior was quarried from the nearby Quincy Hill.

This chateau-like, Queen Anne style structure was erected in 1889 by W. N. Chancellor.  Chancellor, a mayor of Parkersburg (1874-1886), later built the Chancellor Hotel which stood at Seventh and Market Streets and was Parkersburg's grand hotel before being razed in 1975.  The Blennerhassett Hotel originally housed several banking institutions and primarily served railroaders and traveling salesmen before becoming a residential hotel.  After being closed for several years, the property was beautifully restored with eighteenth and nineteenth century antiques, enlarged and reopened in 1986. In 2005, the hotel completed another full renovation.  Now equipped with the most modern and luxurious amenities, the Blennerhassett continues to share its legacy of history and quality with downtown Parkersburg.

This orange-red brick with stone trim is one of Parkersburg's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture.  It was constructed in 1840 by George Neale, Jr. (1802-1880) who thirteen years earlier had purchased the upper end of Blennerhassett Island from Harman Blennerhassett's Philadelphia business partner.  The bricks used in this structure were fired on the island.  The building, whose exterior was restored in 1974, is now owned by Robert Tebay and houses law offices.

Erected in 1930 at a cost of $315,000 (well over three million dollars in today's inflated currency), this Renaissance Modern style structure remains a fine example of Depression era architecture.  The marble-lined walls of its lobby and the brass work over the front doors are particularly striking decorative features.

Built in 1878, the church's design is rich in architectural symbolism found in all true Gothic structures even to a single flying buttress and stained glass windows.  The first permanent vicar, the Rev. Thomas Smith, who died in 1846, is buried beneath the floor of the church.  The Rectory, erected in 1863, stands on the corner and is an excellent example of Victorian architecture.  In the rear of the property is Trinity Hall.  Built in 1881, it was originally a Sunday School whose construction was financed by children's events.  Today it is used for church socials and other activities.

This church housed Parkersburg's first black congregation and also stands as a memorial to the philanthropy of Henry Logan and his wife, Lavina, who were generous in supporting black causes.  In 1871 this lot was purchased and used until the present church was constructed in 1892.  The old church was then moved to the back of the lot and used as a Sunday School and social hall until it was razed somtime in the early twentieth century.   

Built in 1869 on the site of an earlier church and dedicated in 1870, this church is an adaptive Romanesque design with French Gothic influences.  Designed by P. C. Keeley, the contractor was Lysander Dudley, Parkersburg's first architect.  The church is distinguished by its magnificent mural paintings and an imposing, hand-carved wooden altar.  The building's exterior has changed very little over the years, preserving the original architecture.

Constructed in 1871-1876 under the direction of Lysander Dudley from a design of a church in Wallingford, Connecticut, his former home.  The first meeting was held in the basement of the new church on January 2, 1872.  Built at the height of the Italianate period, the church displays with excellent integrity the characteristics of the style.

First United Methodist Church was the first church to be organized in Wood County and the first Methodist Church in the Mid-Ohio Valley.  In 1796 Reece Wolfe, a lay preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, settled at Neal's Station along the Little Kanawha River.  He organized classes, which grew so rapidly the Bishop Francis Asbury was petitioned to send an ordained minister who could organize a church.  On June 1, 1799, Rev. Robert Manley arrived at The Point and established the Little Kanawha Circuit of the Methodist Espicopal Church.  It was from this church that the First United Methodist Church eventually emerged.  After worshipping in four earlier buildings, the present church at Tenth and Juliana Streets was constructed in 1911.  This Gothic structure is noted for its stone exterior and beautiful stained glass windows.          

Built in 1829 by Tillinghast A. Cook, a son of Joseph Cook, one of the area's first settlers.  The bricks for this small Federal style house were fired on the premises and the wood used was cut nearby.  Restored by Elizabeth Wolfe Eddy and now the headquarters of the Junior League of Parkersburg, this is the second oldest house still standing in Parkersburg.

A branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad reached Parkersburg, Virginia in 1857, but lacking a bridge to cross the Ohio River, its trains had to be ferried across to Belpre, Ohio by barges.  The first stone for the B&O Railroad Bridge was laid on July 9, 1869, and the structure was completed in December 1870.  The first train crossed the bridge on January 7, 1871.  At the time of its opening, it was the longest railroad bridge in the world, with a total length of 7,140 feet.  Its construction cost was $1,000,000 with money borrowed, as legend has it, from the eccentric and colorful financier Hetty Green, "the Witch of Wall Street."  The bridge was remodeled around the turn of the century, with the metal superstructure being moved from below the tracks to above them.  The structure for many years has been the object of perennial complaints by river boat pilots who claim that it complicates what is already the worst bend in the Ohio River.  Indeed, the middle pier has been hit many times by boats trying to navigate the tricky turn.

Originally constructed in 1926 by the Smoot Amusement Company for vaudeville acts, the theater was converted to a showcase for films when live entertainment lost the public's favor.  In 1930 it was sold to the Warner Brothers Company which redecorated the building, converting it into one of Parkersburg's leading movie houses.  By the early 1980s, in the face of television, video entertainment, mall cinemas and other rivals, larger movie houses had started their downhill decline.  The venerable Smoot closed in 1986, in a state of disrepair, and soon faced the prospect of a wrecking ball.  At the last moment, however, it was saved.  In 1989 a group of concerned citizens utilizing both private and public funds purchased, renovated and reopened the theater.  Its burgundy and cream color decor was  restored along with its gilt molding.  Hand-cut Austrian crystal chandeliers have enhanced the elegance of its art deco ceiling repainted with its design of yellow, lavender, burgundy, tan and blue.  Although the theater's interior is now restored, many of its original features remain intact:  Trap doors in the stage floor (which was made of maple and pine wood to vary the dancers' tapping sounds), a 65-foot-high stage height to accommodate the largest scenery and gas burners in the basement dressing rooms which actresses used to heat their curling irons.  Concerts, theatrical productions, comedy acts and vintage film showings now fill the Smoot Theatre's annual calendar of events making its glory days live again.

This spacious two-story Federal style brick home, constructed in 1843, was one of five United States Army hospitals operated in Parkersburg during the Civil War, and is the only one still standing.  It functioned circa 1863 to 1865 after having been purchased from its owner, Henry Logan.  Since the house alone could not provide adequate space for the army's needs, two long wooden buildings were built adjacent to it to the north to serve as patient wards and as an office.  To the east of the house, tents were erected to also accommodate the overflow.  In the 1890s this house served briefly as a civilian hospital.  In 1986 an addition was constructed on its south side.

This stone house, completed in 1929, was the focal point for an elaborate private park (1929-1946) established by a Wood County oil and gas tycoon named William Henry "Wig" Bickel.  Sitting on a knoll and surrounded by landscaped lawns, the house in the 1930s and 1940s -- until Mr. Bickel's death in 1946 -- was flanked by picnic grounds, playground and a zoo where bison, elk, deer, Texas burros, zebras or sacred cows, swans, geese, ducks, guinea hens, peacocks and turkeys were on display.  Stables and a half mile race track, where harness races and horse shows were sponsored by Mr. Bickel, completed the estate's offerings to the public, who were admitted free of charge.

TOMLINSON HOUSE, 901 3rd Street (WV 14), Williamstown
This Federal-style two-story brick home overlooking the Ohio River was built in 1839 by Joseph Tomlinson, III, and is Williamstown's earliest surviving dwelling.  He was the grandson of the town's earliest settler, a member of the Virginia General Assembly and a civic leader.  The house originally had nine rooms and was a social center for the area in the mid‑1800s.  Famed naturalist John J. Audubon spent summers here studying birds of the Ohio Valley.  Bricks on the mansion's exterior, which lay three deep, were fired on the grounds.  The Tomlinson family owned the house until 1968.  (NR)  (P)

HENDERSON HALL, WV 14 south of Williamstown
This ornate structure is a nineteenth-century time capsule and the Victorian counterpart to Wood County's other great home, the eighteenth-century Blennerhassett Mansion.  The Hendersons, one of Wood County's pioneer families, once owned 25,000 acres in western Virginia in what is now Harrison, Wood, Wirt and Pleasants Counties.  2000 acres of this tract was in northern Wood County alone.  The progenitor of the clan was Alexander Henderson, Sr., who emigrated to Virginia in the late 1700s and grew wealthy by establishing what may have been America's first chain store operation.  He was a close friend of George Washington and other Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and George Mason.

It was Alexander's grandson, George Washington Henderson (1802-1866) who built in 1836 the first part of wat would eventually into Henderson Hall.  This first, two-story rear section, called "Pohick Hall,"  was enlarged from 1856 to 1859 into a Victorian Italianate mansion which, like its predecessor, was of brick fired on the estate.  It was then given the name it still bears today, Henderson Hall.

Henderson Hall is open to visitors to share with them its treasures:  two centuries of furniture, paintings, photographs, an extensive manuscript collection, tools, kitchen equipment and musical instruments.  The mansion's interior has remained virtually unchanged from the way it must have looked in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Truly, Henderson Hall is a house where time has stood still.  (NR) 


Founded in 1785 by a group of Philadelphia merchants who owned a tract of 91,000 acres in the vicinity, Belleville is one of the earliest white settlements on the upper Ohio River.  In the first decade of the nineteenth century, one of its founders, George D. Avery of Connecticut, built at least one ocean-going vessel at Belleville and grew extensive crops of hemp to supply the rope factories at Marietta, also a shipbuilding center.  Belleville's prosperity was severely damaged by the Ohio River floods of 1884 and 1913 that successively destroyed most of the town.  Since 1985, the Belleville Homecoming, held annually in September, has attracted former residents from all over the United States.

This island, the fifth largest in the Ohio River, stretches 3.8 miles in length, contains 500 acres, and lies 1 1/2 miles due west of Parkersburg.  Archeological excavations have revealed that the island was the home of Indians as early as 9000 BC.  Since the early 1800s it has been the Ohio River's most famous island, deriving its renown from two exiled Irish aristocrats, Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, who settled on it in 1798 after fleeing Ireland for political and personal reasons.  They laid out a magnificent European-style estate whose centerpiece, a Palladian mansion, contained 7,000 square feet of floor space.  Landscaped gardens provided the backdrop for what became known as one of the most beautiful spots in the Ohio Valley.  But the Blennerhassett’s stay on the island was tragically short-lived.  They allowed former vice president Aaron Burr to use their island as the base of operations for his controversial 1805-1807 military expedition to the Southwest, labeled by some historians as a "conspiracy."  The local militia invaded the island in 1806 in search of Burr and the Blennerhassetts, causing Harman and Margaret to flee down river.  They never returned to their island paradise.  After the Burr treason trial the wealthy couple lost the remainder of their large fortune and died in poverty.  Their splendid mansion accidentally burned to the ground in 1811.  Not until 1901 was it revealed that Harman and Margaret had come to America to hide a secret: that in addition to being husband and wife, they were also uncle and niece.

Blennerhassett Island was farmed throughout the nineteenth century, and from 1886 to 1912 a private park was operated on the head of the island.  During the 1920s, the suggestion was first made to develop the island into a state park.  In 1966 the island was purchased by the E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company which leased it to the State of West Virginia for the development of a state park which opened in 1980.  (NR)

Fort Boreman Hill, which stands overlooking Parkersburg and across the Little Kanawha River from the city, was first named Mount Logan (why it was so called remains one of the enduring mysteries of local history).  During the Civil War, it was decided to build a fort on top of the hill to guard Parkersburg and the mouth of the Little Kanawha River which led to valuable oil fields at Burning Springs.   The fort was built during the summer and fall of 1863 and named in honor of Arthur I. Boreman, West Virginia's first governor (1863-1869) and a leading citizen of Parkersburg.  Upon completion, 136 Union soldiers were garrisoned here until the fall of 1865.  The cannon at the fort was never fired in anger.  The "pest house," a large two-story structure used to house persons who contracted a contagious disease such as smallpox, was located at the south side of the fort's rampart and used by the city until the early 1900s, when it was sold.  It was destroyed by fire early in the century.  A small cemetery was adjacent to the pest house.

A tale about the "hangman's tree" is perhaps the most interesting facet of the hill's history.  It involves three Wood County men who had murdered a neighbor in 1864  in an argument over the Civil War.  The trio were arrested, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead on Fort Boreman.  The sentence was carried out February 9, 1866, with considerable local ceremony..  

In  prehistoric times, Fort Boreman was the site of a large Indian mound surrounded by a ditch and parapet.  This magnificent structure survived until the 1860s when it was destroyed to make way for Fort Boreman.  When Wood County's first courthouse was constructed circa 1802, the walnut logs that went into it were cut on what is now Fort Boreman Hill, skidded down its sides into the Little Kanawha River, floated across and then retrieved for use.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, this section of old Parkersburg contains 126 separate properties, some of which are among the finest examples of Victorian architecture to be found in West Virginia.  This area was once the social center of the county and home to Parkersburg's most prominent families.  The majority of the district's structures are in the Second Empire, nineteenth century eclectic and Queen Anne styles and date from 1850 to 1910. (NR) 

NEAL'S STATION, East St and Camden Ave
This historic place is located on the south bank of the Little Kanawha River one mile from its mouth and just east of East Street.  It marks the site of Parkersburg's first settlement made in 1785 by Captain James Neal and a small party of men.  Captain Neal's "station" (the name often given in Kentucky and western Virginia to small fortifications) consisted of a two-story log blockhouse and a cluster of cabins.  It was where Captain Neal and a number of settlers in the immediate area lived for the next ten years while the danger of Indian attack remained.

The population of the stockade (which was sometimes called "Kanawha Station" but never "Fort Neal") was small.  According to one authentic account, it never sheltered more than six families during the Indian War (1791-1795).  But what it lacked in size, it made up for in excitement.  During the summer of 1789, two small boys who lived in the vicinity of the station were ambushed by Indians and tomahawked to death.  Soon after, in the middle of the night, the Indians returned.  They tried to set fire to the blockhouse -- by throwing a torch though the window -- while the people inside were asleep.  But Mrs. Neal happened to be awake, and managed to put out the fire.  After 1795, Neal's Station gradually fell into ruins.  What was left of it washed away during a flood of the Little Kanawha River in 1832.  Today, a West Virginia state historical marker stands in the vicinity to call attention to the site where Parkersburg began.

In 1897, forty acres on this site were purchased by the City of Parkersburg as a park for $20,000.  Another 15 acres were added later.    Formerly owned by the Wood County Agricultural and Mechanical Fairground Association, the area had long been a fairgrounds and racetrack.  Although the Parkersburg City Council officially named it "Oak Wood Park," the public disliked the name, choosing instead to simply call it "The City Park," which officially became its name in 1911.  Improvement of the new facility soon followed with electricity installed in 1903 and the first water lines laid in 1911.

This later addition allowed for the creation of the park's most famous landmarks:  two lily ponds and a large ornamental water fountain.  The largest of the lily ponds was located near 23rd Street and Park Avenue and was originally built in the early 1890s as a quarter-mile racing track for bicycles.  In the early 1900s, it was deepened and filled with water to become known as the largest man-made lily pond in the world.  The lilies were removed circa 1980.

In 1905, J.M. Jackson, Jr. bequeathed $5,000 for the purpose of erecting a fountain at the park, and William Willard Jackson, executor of the will, purchased the fountain while on his wedding trip to New York City.  This fountain, recently restored, stands at the park's main entrance at 17th Street and Park Avenue on land purchased by the city from John S. Camden.

POINT PARK, through the Flood wall at the foot of 2nd St
The site of Parkersburg's second oldest point of settlement, the north side of the mouth of the Little Kanawha River was called "The Point” in its earliest days.  It was a scene of lively activity since it served as the public landing for flatboats and river craft of all kinds that plied  the Ohio River during the frontier era and westward migration.  Around 1800, a settlement of 12 buildings existed there.  The State of Virginia had built a blockhouse at the Point in 1792 to shelter the soldiers stationed there to protect the settlers from Indians.  Wood County's first courthouse was built at the Point following the settlement's selection as the county seat in November 1800.  The two‑story log structure was located at what is now the corner of First and Juliana Streets.

In the Civil War days, the spot had not lost its bustle, for the Swann House, the city's finest hotel, stood nearby at First and Ann Streets.  This hotel was a magnet for army officers, politicians, oil men, merchants and many other travelers.  Watching the sun set over Blennerhassett Island from the Point was a popular activity in the late nineteenth century.  In the 1920s and 1930s, "Murphy's Park" was created at the Point and proved to be a favorite gathering place where people could continue to enjoy the fine view of the Ohio River.  This park was destroyed when the Parkersburg flood wall was constructed in 1946-1950, but was reborn in 1982 under the name "Point Park," a venture developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and administered by the City of Parkersburg.

Situated about 15 miles east of Parkersburg off US Route 50, Volcano is famous as Wood County's only oil boom town.  The community was situated in a rocky ravine, and gained its name from a peculiar formation in the region's rocks which were thought to resemble that of a volcano.  Volcano's brief period of glory began in March 1865 when a deep drilled well was brought in starting a stampede of drillers, mainly from Oil City, Pennsylvania, eager to get rich.  As its peak, the town's population was 3,500.  Its opera house was reportedly the largest in the state, and so lavish in scale and furnishings that it was frequented by most of the theatrical road companies of the day.  In addition, the town contained several stores, hotels, saloons, warehouses, two newspapers, two schools, a post office, church, homes and two sporting houses, "The Golden Horn" and "The Red Rooster."  The former's most famous resident was named "Red Neck Nellie" from the color of scarf she always wore.

Volcano possessed its own railroad - constructed in 1866 and demolished in 1899 -- called the Laurel Fork and Sand Hill Railroad.  It was said to be the first standard gauge built in West Virginia.  Being located in a district of abundant natural gas, the town used this natural resource to light its streets, one of the first communities in the United States to do so.  By the late 1870s the oil beneath the town was nearly exhausted.  Then on August 8, 1879, a fire set by an arsonist burned most of the town within two hours.  It was never rebuilt on its former scale.  The site, now part of Wood County's Mountwood Park, has reverted to nature and is devoid of any buildings.  Every September, however, "Volcano Days" is held at the park to celebrate the departed glory of Wood County's only "Wild West" town.


This museum, the second largest in West Virginia, provides the perfect starting point for a trip to Blennerhassett Island or a tour of historic Parkersburg.  Situated only two blocks from Point Park where the sternwheeler cruises to the island depart, the museum exhibits a large array of area history from prehistoric Indian artifacts to items once owned by the Blennerhassett family, old clothing, farm tools, jewelry, furniture, guns, glass and art.  A 12-minute video shown to visitors entertains and informs them about the history of the most famous island in the Ohio River and the tragic couple who gave it their name.

The northern half of the Blennerhassett Museum building was constructed in 1902 by the McConaughey family as the home of the Star Grocery Company to serve as a warehouse and offices.  In the 1920s the company added the present southern half of the structure.  The firm went out of business in the 1940s.  Eventually the Guthrie-Morris-Campbell Company of Charleston, West Virginia acquired the building, which in 1983 sold it to the State of West Virginia.  From 1985 to 1986 the building was totally renovated, and on April 30, 1988, opened as the Blennerhassett Museum.

Believed to have been constructed about 1805 by Henry Cooper, one of the first settlers of Wood County, this two-story log house was originally located on Elizabeth Pike at Mineral Wells about nine miles from Parkersburg.  It was situated on a several hundred-acre plot of ground.  In 1910 it was dismantled and moved to the City Park to serve as part of the city's centennial observance that year of its incorporation as a town and its renaming as "Parkersburg."  In 1911 the house became the headquarters and museum of the Centennial Chapter of the Daughters of the American Pioneers which organized in 1899 is Wood County's oldest surviving historical organization.  The DAP is a ladies' national historic preservation group which at its peak in the 1930s consisted of nine chapters in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.

The cabin was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.  The Cooper log cabin, which is Wood County's first history museum, is open to the public every Sunday, Memorial Day to Labor Day from 1:30 to 4:30 PM.  It exhibits a fascinating assortment of artifacts dating from the 1700s to the 1900s including furniture, clothing, photographs, one of the United States' largest button collections and wood from a tree planted by Johnny Appleseed. (NR)

The Fenton Art Glass Company began its operations in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1905 decorating glass.  Instead of making its own glassware, Fenton purchased other companies' products, which it then decorated and resold them to the public.  Soon, however, Fenton officials decided they would have to start producing its own product.  The search began for other sites along the Ohio River for the plant.  In 1906, Williamstown was selected as the firm's new home, and by January 1907 actual production had begun in the new facility.

In an effort to preserve both its own heritage and that of the Ohio Valley glass industry, Fenton in April 1977 opened a museum exhibiting a collection of products made during the company's first seventy-five years (1905-1980) and examples from other glass companies.  A stroll through the museum allows the visitor to see some of the most exquisite glass ever created in the United States and learn the story behind each piece.  A 30‑minute color video tells the complete story of the making of Fenton glass.

This museum, which opened in June 1990, is housed in a building constructed in 1874 by the W.H. Smith Hardware Company and used by it until 1988 when the firm relocated.   The museum's many displays depict the origin and development of the American oil and gas industry and include engines, pumps and various tools (some so large they are exhibited outside on an adjacent lot) actually used in the oil and gas fields.  Also shown are models of other equipment, and photographs of the people, events and sites associated with early oil and gas exploration and production.  In addition, the museum's collections include displays concerning the history of local railroads and industry and an extensive exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from Parkersburg's past.  

The black population of Wood County has always been an exceptionally cultured people, a fact proved by their proud record setting in the field of education.  In January 1862, seven black men established a free public school for their children.  This was not only the first free public school for blacks in what is now West Virginia, but the first south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Sumner School, founded in 1874, was an outgrowth of the first school and became in 1955 the first West Virginia high school to be integrated.  The original Sumner School building has been razed, but its 1926 gymnasium remains.  In 1991, it was opened as the Sumnerite Museum, the first black museum in West Virginia.  Its large number of displays include many old photographs, art, printed items and other relics including a "beaten biscuit machine" used by an early black caterer.

This not-for-profit museum was formed by a group of area veterans for the purpose of educating and reminding area residents and visitors of the important role veterans have played in the history of this country and in making this country what it is today.  With few World War II veterans remaining, and the declining number of Korean and Vietnam veterans, much of the past history of our veterans is being lost.  The Veterans Museum is striving to preserve that history and honor veterans through displays, memorabila, photographs, letters and uniforms from World War I through Iraq and Afghanistan. 

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