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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wheeling in Ohio County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Athenaeum

"Lincoln's Bastille"

 
 
The Athenaeum Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
1. The Athenaeum Marker
Inscription. The Athenaeum, once the biggest building in Wheeling, stood here. It was constructed in 1854, with three stories supported by cast-iron roof and floor beams. It served as an adjunct of the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station, to encourage travelers to stop in the city. The upper floor housed a theater, which attracted many of the best performers of the antebellum period, including Maggie Mitchell and the famous Shakespearian actor Edwin Booth, a brother of President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. A popular play performed at the Athenaeum was Uncle tom's Cabin, which was based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel of the same name.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the U.S. government took over the lower two floors and detained Confederate sympathizers and prisoners of war until they could be transferred to Camp Chase in Columbus. It became known as "Lincoln's Bastille." Several prisoners escaped during the years that followed.

In September 1863, the entire building was converted to a prison. A hospital, bake house, fuel house, and exercise yard surrounded by a twenty-foot wall were constructed on the property. Thereafter, many Union soldiers convicted by courts-martial were incarcerated there. The prison hospital became overcrowded, and in March 1864, the patient were transferred to Wheeling
The Athenaeum Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
2. The Athenaeum Marker
Hospital in North Wheeling. This action allowed the prison to be further enlarged. In September 1865, the prison was closed, and the Athenaeum was returned to its owners.

On October 10, 1868, the structure burned completely in Wheeling's largest fire. As a result the city organized its first fire department.
 
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 40° 3.826′ N, 80° 43.312′ W. Marker is in Wheeling, West Virginia, in Ohio County. Marker is at the intersection of 16th Street (West Virginia Route 2) and Market Street, on the right when traveling east on 16th Street. Touch for map. Across the street from West Virginia Independence Hall on the campus of West Virginia Northern Community College. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1704 Market Street, Wheeling WV 26003, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. B & O Railroad (here, next to this marker); Baltimore and Ohio Passenger Station (here, next to this marker); Old Custom House (a few steps from this marker); The First Campaign (within shouting
Governor Borman at the Athenaeum image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
3. Governor Borman at the Athenaeum
West Virginia Governor Arthur I. Borman visits a prisoner at the Athenaeum.
Close-up of image on maker
West Virginia State Archives
distance of this marker); Independence Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); First State Capitol (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lewis and Clark (approx. 0.2 miles away); Walter Reuther (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wheeling.
 
Also see . . .  Wheeling's Athenaeum 1854-1868. West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly, Volume XVII, Number 2 April, 2003. (Submitted on January 1, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
The Custom House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
4. The Custom House
In this 1860s gathering at the Custom House, present-day West Virginia Independence Hall, the corner of the Athenaeum is visible on the right. .
Close-up of image on maker
West Virginia State Archives
West Virginia Independence Hall<br>(The Custom House) image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
5. West Virginia Independence Hall
(The Custom House)
The Restored Government of Virginia met here between 1861 and 1863. The loyal Government of Virginia moved to Alexandria when West Virginia became a separate state in 1863.
You are Here image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2013
6. You are Here
Close-up of map on marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 1, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 346 times since then and 44 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 1, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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