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Cooey-Bentz Company Department Store

Souvenir Views of Wheeling: Cooey-Bentz Co. On April 12, 1915, in what was deemed a "great improvement for the district south of the creek," the new Cooey-Bentz Furniture Company store, a six-story brick building on the corner of 36th and Jacob Streets, opened to the public.

The new building was across the street from the old one, where the business had thrived since 1897.

Visitors were given souvenirs and chances to win big prizes. Trolleys of the Wheeling and WV Traction companies carried shoppers "out of the high rent district" to the new "mecca for furniture buyers." Less mobile shoppers were invited to take advantage of the store's "auto delivery service."

The modern, 30,000 square foot "Sunlight Store" featured a sprinkler system, electric elevators, hardwood floors and stairs, and electric lighting. On display were Edison Diamond Disc graphophones, easy chairs, "novelty furniture," linoleums, carpets, rugs, metal beds, stoves, gas heaters, and refrigerators. Prizes included a library table, kitchen cabinets, a refrigerator, and a sectional bookcase. 

Part of the old building across the street was kept for undertaking services.

Cooey-Bentz Company remained a South Wheeling stalwart, and a one-stop shop for funeral services, furniture, and dry goods . Undertaker W.R. Cooey, and cooper Herman Bentz expanded several times, most notably in 1923 when architect Frederick Faris (Schmulbach Building) joined with R.R. Kitchen Contracting (Capitol Theatre) to build the new five-story addition.

Cooey-Bentz served as a temporary morgue, storing dozens of bodies after the horrific Benwood Mine explosion of 1924.

Santa suit said to be from Cooey-Bentz. OCPL Archives.The building as it looked in 2023.During the 1970s and early 1980s, Cooey-Bentz developed into a Yuletide Mecca, featuring a sprawling “toyland,” a huge toy train display, eye-catching animated window displays, and the most popular Santa Claus in the region.

Cooey-Bentz closed in 2002.

Read a history of Cooey-Bentz in the 2009 Upper Ohio Valley Historical Review written by Judi Hendrickson.

View a gallery of Wheeling Santas Through time. 


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-Information on this page compiled by erothenbuehler
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