Wheeling, West Virginia, has a rich tapestry of history as the state’s first capital. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along the Ohio River, Wheeling was an industrial powerhouse known as the “nail city,” supplying cut nails to the entire nation. By 1910, the city’s population surged to over 41,000, and its thriving industry played a pivotal role in supporting World War I. However, at this time, Wheeling, like many American cities, was under the shadow of segregation, with Jim Crow laws deeply ingrained into the societal fabric and dictating accessibility to locations and services based on race. Amidst this complex socio-political landscape, the YWCA Wheeling was established in 1906, initially operating from a rented space on an adjacent block before construction on their permanent and current location at 1100 Chapline Street was completed in 1915.
Despite the segregation laws of the time, the YWCA Wheeling emerged as a beacon of progressive ideals. While not untouched by the era’s legal constraints, the organization made it a priority to champion equal access regardless of race. In their early years, they actively campaigned and fundraised to extend their protective services and advocacy to African American girls and women, serving as a testament to their commitment to social justice.
By 1921, the YWCA Wheeling successfully established the Blue Triangle Branch in a neighboring building to serve the African American members of the community. Both organizations worked together serving the women and children of Wheeling until 1956 when the YWCA integrated the Blue Triangle Branch into its Chapline Street headquarters.
For more than a century, the YWCA Wheeling has been operating from this historic location, growing its programs, and continuing to support the women and families of Wheeling. The building, steeped in history and resilience, now requires essential repairs and upgrades to ensure the YWCA can continue its mission into the future.
The renovation of the century-old YWCA Wheeling building will enhance the quality of life for employees, residents, and community members, increase capacity for essential programming, and ensure the YWCA’s sustainability in its mission to provide vital services for women and families in need.
The YWCA currently serves about 7,400 participants each year through a range of programs that will significantly benefit from these renovations. The Women Inspired in New Directions (WIND) and Residence is a non-treatment residential recovery program designed to support women committed to embarking on a substance-free life. The program provides safe housing for participants and connects them with case management services, peer groups, and mentorship programs with other community organizations. They also provide housing for homeless and human trafficking victims, have an emergency shelter program providing safe housing for women and families, and transitional housing units to support those needing a safe place to stay. In total, the YWCA currently provides beds and rooms for up to 41 women and children in need.
Additional programs include court support, 24-hour emergency hotline services for women and families experiencing domestic violence, youth empowerment, a no-cost clothing and shoe boutique for individuals and families, and new parenting training.
The planned upgrades are extensive and aimed at both improving the quality of the facility and increasing its sustainability and efficiency. Critical renovations include a new elevator, upgraded plumbing and electrical systems, and the installation of an HVAC system, which is a first for the building.
Moreover, the existing residential units and shelter bed areas will be enhanced for an even more comfortable and inviting stay. Underutilized spaces within the building will also be renovated to allow the organization to increase the number of shelter beds and rooms available and increase the number of women and families the organization can serve each year through its programming.
In undertaking this project, the YWCA continues its long history of progressive action and service to the Ohio Valley.The renovation of the YWCA facility not only preserves a piece of Wheeling’s history but also ensures that the building continues to function as a vital resource for women and families in the area.
The YWCA Wheeling, which has not seen a major upgrade since its initial construction, is poised to make a transformative impact on the program participants, organization employees, and the local community with its upcoming renovation.
Construction efforts will generate an estimated 67 positions, 85% of which will be accessible to those facing barriers to entering the workforce. Once complete, the renovated facility will enable the YWCA to add 7 new positions in addition to its current staff of 33.
Additionally, the building will have new and upgraded systems, including a new elevator which will replace the one that has been in use since 1969, updated lighting and plumbing for better energy efficiency, and a brand new HVAC system. The renovation of the programmatic, residential, and shelter spaces will provide an estimated 20% increased capacity by adding 14 rooms that are even more comfortable and inviting for program participants and will enable the YWCA to support an additional 1,200 people each year.
This renovation promises to not only rejuvenate a historic facility but also to enhance the essential support this historic organization provides to the Wheeling community.
NTCIC provided a $10 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for the project and facilitated the investment for all real estate tax credits within the transaction, including both state and federal Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) and the NMTCs. The swift closing facilitated by NTCIC enabled the YWCA to begin construction promptly, limiting program disruption and enabling the organization to quickly expand its crucial services and provide a safe haven for women and families at risk.
Click here to read our project announcement.