Programs & Projects
A key to Oglebay and Wheeling Park’s long term success and growth has been the combination of generous philanthropic gifts, a broad base of supporters and friends, and visionary comprehensive master planning.
Park management has developed a current Master Plan for both Oglebay and Wheeling Park with a focus on new facility development, replacement, and rehabilitation. The Wheeling Park Commission also includes long-term planning for the development of programs that enrich the lives of youth, families, and the community while focused on our model of financial independence and sustainability.
Featured Program: Access to the Parks (Back to Top)
With the extreme downsizing of industry in the Ohio Valley, and the moving of many companies, the economic base for Wheeling and the surrounding areas has become a challenge. As a result of this, the income level of many local families has significantly decreased.
The Wheeling Park Commission has long serviced the needs of the citizenry of Ohio County and the surrounding areas through the Oglebay Park Children’s Association program and free admission to many facilities for non-profit youth-service organizations. The latest, and most comprehensive undertaking, is Access to the Parks, a program started in 1999. Access was founded to allow youngsters who ordinarily would not be able to afford the facility fees at Oglebay and Wheeling Park to visit and enjoy their favorite recreational activities on a regular basis. These activities include swimming, Par-3 golf, tennis, fishing, boating, skiing, ice-skating, the Good Zoo, and more.
More than half of the youngsters in Ohio County qualify to enroll in Access to the Parks and approximately 2,000 of them take advantage of the program each year. This translates into almost 20,000 visits a year. Annual cost of the program exceeds $175,000 per year, with an additional $10,000 needed for transportation costs. Your annual gift, or endowment gift, to Access to the Parks will make it possible for even more young people to build treasured memories at Oglebay and Wheeling Park.
America’s Future Trees (AFT) is a program whose purpose is to maintain and improve the natural environment at Oglebay and Wheeling Park through new and renewal plantings of trees, and tree care. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, trees are purchased and planted where they are needed the most.
Started by Oglebay heir Courtney Burton in the 1960s, AFT continues to be a popular recipient of memorial and tribute gifts. Donations will be matched by the Wheeling Park Commission.
To date, many thousands of mature trees and seedlings have been planted throughout the parks. Much of the beauty you see in these sweeping vistas of trees and landscaping features was detailed years ago in the parks’ master plan. As contributions to AFT grew, so did the trees, abundantly throughout the parks. Now, visitors from many states and foreign countries marvel at the beauty of the parks. Many have added their names to the growing list of contributors to AFT.
America’s Future Trees funds are as important to the beauty of the parks today as they were in the 1970s, when land expansion and damage from Elm disease made major replacements and additions necessary.
Due to natural attrition, new plantings are continually being made throughout Oglebay and Wheeling Park. In addition to the labor required for planting, there is fertilizing, spraying and pruning to be done. To guarantee this maintenance and continually improve the tree-planting program, your help is needed.
In 2010 The Oglebay Foundation announced a campaign to raise $600,000 for AFT in order to implement a five-year landscaping plan to improve the grounds of Oglebay and Wheeling Park. This campaign honors the memory of the late Brooks Wigginton, the Wheeling Park Commission’s first and long-time landscape architect. The trees initiative will continue through 2014.
Think of your contribution to America’s Future Trees Foundation – whether a memorial, tribute or general gift – as a lasting token of celebration. Your gift, no matter how modest, will assure that future generations will enjoy the trees we plant today.
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
The concept for a zoo at Oglebay was conceived in 1971 by Larry and Barbara Good as a memorial to their 7-year old son, Philip. Their gift, plus funds from federal, regional, and state grants, provided the seed money for the project to begin. The Good Zoo opened in May, 1977, supported by 1,000 charter members of Good Zoo Friends. Today, the self-supporting 30-acre facility provides educational and recreational family activities at affordable prices and offers free admission to non-profit youth groups.
The Benedum Planetarium opened in 1978. This multi-media domed planetarium and theater provides a year-round facility within the zoo for educational programs. It offers a wide range of programs in the physical sciences seldom found in a zoological park.
In 1993 a private donor funded an evaluation of the existing master plan and the creation of a new plan; it called for expanding the scope of the collection from a specialization in North American species to a broader representation of rare and endangered species worldwide. Initial additions included an ocelot exhibit, a rare red panda exhibit, and a new Discovery Lab.
In the past two decades numerous improvements have been made as private funds and grants have come available. One of the most significant is a veterinary hospital, complete with treatment rooms, operating room, and several indoor and outdoor holding areas for quarantined animals. On the zoo patio, a donor funded a bronze otter sculpture and a Wall of the Wild for engraved terra cotta animal tiles. The wall is a unique opportunity to make a lasting gift to the zoo in the name of a family member or pet by the purchase of a tile. There are many opportunities for donors or organizations to support new exhibits or endow existing exhibits and programs at the Good Zoo.
The last five years have been some of the most successful in the zoo’s history. The facility has attracted several significant donors and has assembled a strong professional staff. With this motivated staff, and a new master plan in place, the future looks bright indeed.
Click here to visit the Good Zoo web page on the Oglebay web site.
The economic engine of the Wheeling Park Commission and the host for the region’s premiere events, weddings, and celebrations, Wilson Lodge has served guests from near and far since 1957. During its history, the 271-room Wilson Lodge has been transformed and now features 54 new premium rooms, The West Spa, two dining rooms, 22,000 sq. ft. of banquet and meeting facilities able to accommodate up to 400. Additional features include wireless Internet, LCD TVs in all guest rooms, indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and fitness center. Special gifts to The Oglebay Foundation in support of Wilson Lodge can include naming of Conference Rooms, the lobby and public spaces, specific guest rooms, and suites. Planned renovations and expansion allows you to be part of the next chapter in the historic Wilson Lodge. Visit the Naming Opportunities page for specific Wilson Lodge facilities and contact The Oglebay Foundation for more information.
Oglebay is also home to 54 cottages and estate houses that accommodate families and groups for day, weekend, and weekly retreats. Ranging in size from two to eight bedrooms, each cottage has a large living room, and fully-equipped kitchen, and they are ideal for family reunions, golf outings, or meeting groups. For many families, staying in an Oglebay cottage is an annual tradition going back more than 50 years. The families (now 4 or more generations and spread across the country and world), consider Oglebay as a second home and the place where their family returns to celebrate, reconnect, and relax.
Gifts to The Oglebay Foundation to construct new cottages, renovate and upgrade existing cottages, or endow cottages may be eligible for naming opportunities. Please contact The Oglebay Foundation office about specific plans for cottage construction and renovation and opportunities to support your favorite cottage. Thru your gift, you will be ensuring the tradition and legacy of Oglebay since Colonel Oglebay first began inviting family and friends to his beloved Waddington Farm.
Wheeling Park provides unique recreational facilities and is a regional hub for special events, soccer tournaments, ice hockey, figure skating, home to the Stifel Playground, Bloch Memorial Golf Course, Memorial Ice Rink, White Palace, Good Lake, J.B. Chambers Athletic Complex, picnic shelters, and so much more. Gifts to support the construction, renovation, and maintenance of Wheeling Park can be found on the Naming Opportunities page. Accessible by public transportation and located along historic National Road, Wheeling Park remains a centerpiece of the health and wellness of the community. Contact The Oglebay Foundation about a gift to support, enhance, or endow Wheeling Park today.
Click here to visit the Wheeling Park web site.
Gardens & Landscapes
Set among rolling hills, Oglebay and Wheeling Park offer the public a natural environment for their recreational activities. Much of the parks’ beauty is in the sweeping vistas of trees and detailed landscaping, the result of decades of master planning. Over the past 80 years through volunteers and the America’s Future Trees fund, the Wheeling Park Commission has invested in the planting and expansion of forest in the parks. The more than 2,200 acres is recognized worldwide for its high level of quality landscape and maintenance
Gardens were a point of pride for the Oglebay family, and the history and continued development of the Wigginton Arboretum and Bissonette Gardens stand as a tribute to the original vision of the land. Today, flowering spring bulbs, flower beds, hanging baskets, water features, and restored gardens delight visitors with a three-season kaleidoscope of color. Brick pathways, walkways, and trails wind throughout the parks and around park facilities offering an ever-changing display.
Gifts to support the conservation of natural spaces, to enhance the seasonal plantings in the park, to renovate historic garden elements, and endow the maintenance of these vistas can be made through Annual Gifts or through a Planned Gift. Please contact The Oglebay Foundation for a list of specific projects.
Recreation & Education
Oglebay and Wheeling Park are centers of discovery where visitors of all ages come to play, learn, and celebrate. From enjoying organized sports such as hockey, soccer, golf, tennis, skiing, horseback riding, swimming, dancing, and fishing to exploring the trails, forests, streams, lakes, and playgrounds, the Wheeling Park Commission sponsors hundreds of youth focused programs each year to enhance the health and knowledge of our next generation. Through partnerships with many individuals, businesses, clubs, and community organizations that provide both financial and volunteer support, the Wheeling Park Commission provides more free or reduced cost programs than any other park and recreation system anywhere.
Three distinct programs provide recreational and educational opportunities for youth at no cost:
- Access to Parks provides over 18,000 annual free visits to the parks and zoo for swimming, skiing, skating, and all the various activities in both Oglebay and Wheeling Park for Ohio County Youth who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program in their local school.
- Oglebay Park Children’s Association provides free summer day camp opportunities for Wheeling youth including transportation from local neighborhood playgrounds to the parks for structured programs at many facilities and swimming.
- Yates Youth Fund provides financial assistance to youth to participate in organized sports in the parks including soccer, hockey, ice skating, tennis, and golf.
Lifelong learning and recreation is a hallmark of Oglebay and Wheeling Park. In addition to the robust youth programs, the young at heart continue to participate in the long list of activities for all ages. From walking on the trails to golf groups that play each day (rain or shine), these park guests prove that the parks are for everyone. Teaching volunteers (docents) are essential to the success of the Good Zoo, Master Gardeners assist with the maintenance and plantings in the Gardens, and the organized golf, tennis, and recreational clubs that call the parks home ensure a high quality of life for all guests.
Gifts to continue to support, enhance, and endow these ongoing programs and facilities ensure that Oglebay and Wheeling Park continue to grow, meet the needs of future generations, and remain For Everyone Forever. You may make a gift to support a specific program in the park through an online contribution or contact The Oglebay Foundation about your interest in Naming Opportunities or Endowment Gifts to ensure the perpetuity of these essential programs. From swimming pools, golf course holes, tennis courts, athletic fields, and playgrounds are all essential park features that rely on your gifts.