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Recreation and Amusement in Wheeling, 1886

- from The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, September 14, 1886.


Wheeling's Facilities for Recreation and Amusement

"All work and no play," says a wise and accepted adage, "makes Jack a dull boy." Wheeling is a busy place, but many people know how to relax the mind and rest the body, and the facilities for recreation and amusement have kept pace with those for business. The city has two theatres, the Wheeling Opera House, an illustration of which, showing the south front, appears in this issue, and the Grand Opera House. The Opera House is commodious, well planned and substantial,its accessories ample and its furniture comfortable. Here brilliant engagements have been played by McCullough, Mary Anderson, Rhea, Jefferson, Ward, Keene, Modjeska, the Florences and a host of lesser stars; Titiens, Emma Abbot, Clara Lousie Kellogg, Romenyl, the Mexican orchestra and other no less famed musicians have entranced Wheeling from its stages, and Ingersoll, Talmage, Joseph Cooke, William D. Kelly and the most noted orators have spoken there. This house is owned by the German Insurance Company and managed by the Secretary, Mr. W. S. Foose. It has held audiences which would have done credit to the finest city in the land, and under the present management a brilliant and successful future is to be confidently expected. The other house is the Grand Opera House, in the Washington hall building, which building also contains the Masonic hall. It has recently been handsomely refitted. It plays the lighter combinations at popular prices.

Singing Societies

A number of convenient and cozy little assembly halls are occupied by singing societies. The Arion Society, a club formed for social recreation and musical culture, owns an imposing and handsome club house on the South Side, conveniently located, which is a credit to the city as well as the society. An engraving of the building is printed elsewhere. This society is composed of many of the German-American residents of Wheeling, Mr. Louis C. Stifel being the President, C. A. Schaefer, the Secretary, F. Riester, Treasurer, and Prof. Hermann Schockey, Director.

The Germania Society has a convenient and roomy hall in the Public Library building. Its officers are H. C. Mayer, President, A. Freese, Corresponding Secretary, Edward Schenfler, Director.

The Maennerchor has splendid quarters on Market Street. Its Musical Director is H. J. Arbenz and its Corresponding Secretary Christ Schmidt. The Beethoven's comfortable hall is on the corner of Main and Fourteenth streets. William Grewe is President and L. Meiers Secretary. There are two other societies, the Mozart and South Side, both located in the South End.

Besides these, Wheeling has seven Masonic lodges and societies, two Knights Templar commanderies, fifteen lodges or associations of Odd Fellows, five lodges of the Knights of Pythias and one Uniformed division; and at least a hundred other volunteer secret, beneficial, literary and social organizations.

The Fair Grounds and Park

Wheeling's Park is one of her leading attractions. Situated four miles from the Public Building, and reached in a few minutes by the comfortable cars drawn by noiseless steam motors on the Elm Grove Railroad Company, it is at once beautiful for situation and complete in appurtenances. Its long avenues, lined with trees of rare foliage, its fragrant magnolias, its cooling fountain, its seats in shady nooks, its pavilions and swings and springs and deer covert and zoological and ornithological collection, place it in the front rank of such resorts. It is commonly remarked that no city of its size has such an institution.

The West Virginia Exposition and State Fair Association recently gave its sixth annual exhibition on its complete grounds on the South end of Wheeling Island, grounds which in every desirable respect are equal to any in the land, and surpass those of States of much larger population. The recent exhibition showed a decided increase in all respects over the five preceding ones. No similar fairs anywhere attract more exhibitors or of a better class. Few show larger attendance. In this the city has one of a number of institutions which surprise a stranger and cause visitors to estimate the population of the city at a much larger figure than she possesses. It is largely to the liberality and enterprise of such citizens as Anton Reymann, George Hook, William Exley, M. Reilly, John. H. Hobbs. G.E. Mendel, A.R. Jacob. L. P. Sisson, M. Loftus, John W. Nichols, E. M. Atkinson, and such ex-residents as George R. Tingle, now of Alaska, and Ed Larkin, now of Omaha, that Wheeling owes her State Fair. Indeed, the names of these gentlemen appear in almost every public enterprise of note or value to the community.

There are in all twenty public halls and four large rinks in the city, the Turners and Knights of St. George having halls of their own. Wheeling has also a strong amateur base ball nine, and a charter has been obtained for a base ball park. The bicyclists have two organizations. There is a flourishing Young Men's Christian Association, a Chautauquan Literary and Social Circle. The Women's Union Benevolent Society, the Women's Christian Temperance Union and similar societies flourish. The Opera House Orchestra and Band, Kramer's Orchestra and band and Mayer's Brass Band and Orchestra rank with the best similar organizations and there are other musical societies. In short, in nothing is Wheeling lacking which can contribute to the comfort, amusement, morals or improvement of society.

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