Originally built as the James Fitzsimmons residence in 1850, the Classical Revival townhouse later became known as the Howell Mansion after being purchased by Mr. Allen Howell.
On August 6, 1890, an initial organizational meeting of the "Fort Henry Club" took place. 65 original members each bought three shares of stock at $100 per share and additional funds were gathered totaling $19,500. The club was officially incorporated on August 11, 1890, and the Howell property was purchased by the Fort Henry Club September 4, 1890. The Howell Mansion was then converted to an exclusive men's club and after extensive renovations and additions designed by Wheeling architect Edward Bates Franzheim were made giving the structure a Neo-Classical style, the Fort Henry Club opened December 23, 1890.
The club served three meals a day and had a chef on duty around the clock. Businessmen from Wheeling and all over the country kept their memberships so they would have a place to go when in the city. Famous guests included Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, and Babe Ruth.
After decades of economic and population decline in Wheeling, by the 2000s, the Fort Henry Club faced a dwindling membership and in 2011, the club closed and declared bankruptcy.
Following its closure, the property was purchased St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, located across the street from the Fort Henry Club Building. McKinley & Associates then took ownership of the building in September on 2013. Extensive renovations are being made to the building. The second story currently houses the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services.
▶ "The Fort Henry Club Almost Ready for the House-Warming," Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Friday, December 19, 1890 (Includes descriptions of the interior of the Fort Henry Club)
▶ "A Very Enjoyable Informal Opening of the Club House Last Night," Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wednesday, December 24, 1890.