Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oglebay Mansion Museum

We made a couple of trips to this resort/park during our stay near Wheeling.  It was difficult to figure out what this place was all about, all we knew is that we wanted to see the Oglebay Mansion, gardens around it and the Glass Shop and Museum.  The history of the area goes back to the late 1700s when a frontiersman was given a land grant of 400 acres in what was then northwestern Virginia.  After 1812 the land left that family and changed hands several times until Earl Oglebay purchased the land in 1900.  He turned it into a country estate, and upon his death in 1926 willed it to the people of Wheeling, for as long as they "shall operate it for public recreation".   Today on this land then are two gulf courses, lake, a zoo, outdoor pool, a mansion/museum, glass museum, picnic and ski areas.  There are also extensive gardens, a lodge and vacation cottages. 
It was late Saturday afternoon when we arrived at the Oglebay Mansion.   We soon learned that touring the mansion would have to wait until Sunday as it was getting close to closing time.  We chose then to at least walk around the garden area near the mansion.
Pictured above is the Oglebay Mansion.  A cart and horse are parked in front of the building.  They were to be used for a bridal couple whose  wedding ceremony was being held in an amphitheater behind the mansion.  The house was originally built in 1846.  It was first constructed as an 8-room farmhouse and has undergone a great deal of reconstruction over the ensuing years.  When Mr.Ogleby, owner of a shipping and iron ore mining company out of Cleveland, purchased the house and grounds  he enlisted an architect to help create a palatial summer estate and gardens.
We toured the mansion on Sunday and soon learned that not only would we see the rooms of the home as they were used by the Ogleby family, but also that we would see areas of the house dedicated to the history of the upper Ohio Valley.  Mr. Oglesbay's grandson Courtney Burton Jr. added a wing in 1966 dedicated to the Oglebay family history and two exhibit galleries.  The kitchen area of the house has pioneer furnishings circa early 1800s.  Pictured above is the dining room as it looked when the Oglebays summered at the home.  Sheraton and Hepplewhite furnishings are of the Federal Period.  On display is also a Victorian parlor for formal gatherings, as well as an Empire Parlor with animal motifs (built 1810-1825) and an Oval Parlor which the family more frequently used in the later years.  In the house are also several different bedrooms as well as a children's room and library.  I think it took us a couple hours to tour it all, as well as the museum exhibits.
The glass museum, in another building separate from the mansion, focuses on the history and products of five major glass companies that operated in Wheeling.  Pictured above is punch bowl made by Sweeney and Co. in 1844.  It was one of three which stood 5 feet tall, held 16 gallons of liquid, and weighted 225 pounds.  The one above is the only left in existence, it originally stood as a monument for the grave of Michael Sweeney from 1875 until 1949 when the family gave it to the museum.  The museum has on display everything from cut crystal to carnival glass.  We ended our visit watching one of the staff create a colorful glass paper weight.  If we were not living in a mobile 
home I most certainly would have purchased some glass object before leaving the gift shop!

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