West Virginia Exposition Hall Destroyed

The Exposition Hall, originally part of the West Virginia Exposition & State Fair located in Wheeling, was destroyed by fire on January 1, 2020. This fair, active in Wheeling until 1937, had its roots on Wheeling Island, which experienced a surge in residential development in the mid-19th century. This development was spurred by the construction of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which linked Wheeling’s central business district to the expansive, flat terrain of an island in the Ohio River. In 1881, the organizers of the West Virginia Exposition & State Fair decided to purchase 25 acres on the island for their new venue, taking advantage of Wheeling’s status as West Virginia’s state capital at the time.

The fairgrounds featured a variety of facilities, including a dirt racetrack, stables, an exposition hall, and other auxiliary buildings. A notable addition was a new exposition hall, constructed from reinforced concrete in 1924 to withstand the flooding common along the Ohio River. This building was part of the fair’s operations on Wheeling Island until its closure in 1937. Subsequently, the hall found new life as the Wheeling Island Roller Rink and as a storage facility.

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

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