The Exposition Hall, once a part of the West Virginia Exposition & State Fair that operated in Wheeling until 1937, burned to the ground yesterday.

Wheeling Island boomed with residential development in the mid-1800s when the Wheeling Suspension Bridge connected Wheeling’s central business district to ample flat land on an island in the Ohio River. In 1881, the West Virginia Exposition & State Fair elected to acquire 25 acres for its new facility on the island. Its location was advantageous as Wheeling was the state capital of West Virginia.

The grounds included a dirt racetrack,  stables, exposition hall, and various other buildings. A new exposition hall, built of reinforced concrete and elevated to protect itself from floods along the Ohio River, was completed in 1924. The Exposition and State Fair operated on Wheeling Island until 1937. The exposition hall was later reused as the Wheeling Island Roller Rink and for storage.

Header photo courtesy of the Wheeling, West Virginia Fire Department.