Potpourri Article: Oglebay Park
- from Potpourri, Wheeling News-Register, by Blanche Steenrod, April 10, 1938, Part III, Page 11.
© Reproduced with permission.
Evolution of a model recreation program from a model has been the unique history of Oglebay Park where the actual program is operated by Oglebay Institute.
The present park, an area of 750-odd acres high atop the rolling hills of Ohio county, once was Waddington Farm. This was acquired by the late Earl W. Oglebay, of Wheeling and Cleveland, Ohio, in 1901 and Col. Oglebay built not only a country estate of rare beauty there, but made of the place a model to agriculturists and stock breeders.
The owner of Waddington was a firm friend of education, particularly as it affected rural people. Oglebay Hall, seat of the college of agriculture of West Virginia university, the Bethany college dairy herd, the various 4-H and county agricultural systems of West Virginia remain as monuments to his interesting educational projects.
His good taste and love of the outdoors is exemplified in the 132-year-old mansion-museum at Oglebay Park, his former residence, and the plantings of trees and shrubs of more than varieties within the bounds of the present park.
WILLED PARK TO CITY
At the death of Col. Oglebay, in the summer of 1926, it was found that he had willed his magnificent country estate to the people of the city of Wheeling "for so long as they should open it for purposes of public recreation and education." The people were given three years in which to decide whether they should accept the bequest.
This decision was not forthcoming until July of 1928.
In the meantime, Mr. Crispin Oglebay, of Cleveland, executor of his uncle's estate, decided to finance a program which would demonstrate to the people of Wheeling that the park could be a community of real value. He approached various agencies interested in recreation and education before he approached T. Frame, former director of the Extension Division of West Virginia university. Mr. Frame immediately was enthusiastic at the prospect of recreational education at Washington and installed a staff of extension workers there to carry it out.
In essentials the program was the same as the program carried on by Oglebay Institute.
In 1928 the city of Wheeling, through the city council, formally accepted responsibility for the park and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Wheeling Park commission. In the meantime Oglebay estate had financed both physical maintenance and educational programs at the farm, and upon acceptance by the city the change of the name to Oglebay Park, the late Mrs. Sarita Oglebay Russell, daughter of the late Colonel Oglebay, agreed to finance the place for an entire year, although the city officially took the place in charge.
Thus the city, through the Wheeling Park commission actually did not assume financial responsibility until July of 1929, when financial responsibility was taken over by the commission. Its responsibility by arrangement with the Agricultural Extension division, did not include operation of the program at the park, nor does it now include the activities program operation with the exception of golf, riding, picknicking and tennis.