"" Writer's Wanderings: Oglebay -- The Mansion

Monday, December 17, 2018

Oglebay -- The Mansion

The Oglebay Festival of Lights advertisement on television played over and over again as Christmas was nearing. So I caved. I suggested to Bob that we start our migration to Florida a day earlier and stop over at Oglebay near Wheeling, WV, to see what all the fuss was.

From our area near Cleveland, Oglebay was about 3 hours drive, give or take, depending upon whether we followed Google or our car's GPS navigation. We started out with a sunny day and left just before noon. Check in wasn't until four so we had plenty of time to stop and get lunch along the way. Instead of going all the way down I77 and taking I70 east to Wheeling, we decided to take Route 250 over. Yes, it went through a lot of farmland and there were a few small towns but it was a lot more scenic than the interstate.

We arrived a little early and did a soft check in, receiving our car pass, souvenir ornament, ticket to breakfast, and a set of 3-D glasses for our light tour. We left a cell number for the desk to call us when our room was ready and ventured off to visit the Oglebay mansion to kill some time. I'm glad we did. The mansion was beautifully decorated and we learned a little history about how Oglebay came to be.

Earl Oglebay was actually born in Bridgeport, Ohio in 1849 but as a small child, his family moved to Wheeling where he grew up and eventually attended Bethany College. At the age of 28 he became the youngest bank president (National Bank of West Virginia) in the US. In 1881 he married Sallie Howell and the next year they had their only child, Sarita. While living in Cleveland for a short time, he joined with David Z Norton to form the Oglebay Norton Company which was involved with the mining and shipping of iron ore, coal and steel products in the Great Lakes Region.

In 1900, he purchased Waddington Farm (now Oglebay Park) and returned to West Virginia where he applied scientific farm principles to improve farming in the area. He enlisted experts and established a working farm. Upon his death in 1926, he left the property and buildings to the city of Wheeling which led to the eventual creation of Oglebay Park.

The mansion where the family lived has been furnished with period furniture and the self guided tour leads you from room to room with many of the rooms having an audio box that will narrate the history and explain the furnishings of the room. Of course, it being the Christmas season, the rooms were beautifully decorated although some of the themes of the rooms did not fit the historical period. Still, it was all quite nice a good distraction to pass the time until we could get into our room at the lodge.

There are several buildings including a glass museum that you can explore and of course, several gift shops. The park also has a zoo of sorts but we didn't get over to see that. Looking out over the acreage, we guessed it would truly be beautiful in the fall with all the colors that season brings.

Our room at the lodge was bigger than expected with a sitting area and a patio outside our door which would be super in warmer weather. It was a long walk to the restaurant for dinner but all the wings of the lodge are connected so we didn't have to go out in the cold. As we waited for dinner time, we enjoyed the beautiful huge lodge gathering room with two fireplaces. A little relaxing reading in front of the fire was appreciated. Later, after our light display experience, we would return for hot chocolate.

The lodge gathering room
We chose to skip the dinner buffet and go to the grill where we had a nice meal. The main restaurant though would have been nice with a view of some of the lights. We realized that the next morning when we had our breakfast. Dinner done, the sun had set. We were ready to see the lights.

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