From the President and CEO
Oglebay and Wheeling Park are the result of a long legacy of private philanthropy. Due to the creativity and generosity of W.E. Stone, the generosity and leadership of Otto Schenk, and the pioneering spirit of 170 Wheeling citizens, Wheeling Park became a reality in 1925. The following year, Earl W. Oglebay bequeathed his beloved farm to the people of Wheeling and vicinity for “so long as it shall be used for the purpose of public recreation.”
For nearly a century, the Wheeling Park Commission has met its mission of providing quality recreational, educational, and cultural experiences for the community and region, while earning the unique distinction of being the only self-sustaining public park system in the United States. At the same time, the parks provide more free programs or facilities than any other park and recreation system its size anywhere.
From the Great Depression to the present, private gifts have developed and sustained Oglebay and Wheeling Park. I thank those of you who have supported our parks in the past and look for your continued friendship. I hope for the support from those of you who enjoy our parks and feel they are unique and important.
Eriks Janelsins, President and CEO, The Oglebay Foundation
About the Foundation
The Oglebay Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation devoted to the raising of private funds for the welfare, maintenance, and future development of Oglebay and Wheeling Park in Wheeling, West Virginia, and their affiliated organizations and programs. The proud tradition of private philanthropy to support the parks began at the founding of Wheeling Park in 1924 and the formation of the Parks System Trust Fund in 1945. Through the decades, these private funds, annual gifts, grants, and sponsorships have helped to create the only self-sustaining public parks system in the United States.
When the Foundation was incorporated in 1996, it became the major trust vehicle for philanthropic gifts to the parks. At that time, existing endowment funds including the Maintenance Trust, Oglebay Park Children’s Association, America’s Future Trees Foundation, and Friends of Oglebay annual fund were placed under The Oglebay Foundation for efficient management and future growth.
The facilities built or renovated in Oglebay and Wheeling Park are the result of generous gifts made to The Oglebay Foundation. Additionally, gifts provide for program enhancements; the high-quality maintenance of the facilities, grounds, and landscaping; and ensuring all youth have the opportunity to learn and play at Oglebay and Wheeling Parks. The Oglebay Foundation annually contributes in excess of $2.5 Million to the Wheeling Park Commission for program development.
Oglebay and Wheeling Park National Leadership
- Oglebay’s Good Zoo is the only AZA accredited zoo in West Virginia. This rigorous accreditation process ensures Wheeling has a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. A point of pride for all that live in the area should be that Wheeling is one of the smallest communities in the country with an accredited zoo- a testament to the region’s tradition of support for youth focused education and recreation facilities. In 2012, the Good Zoo received the Conservation Prize from the AZA for its research on native wildlife populations.
- Oglebay is home to the National Training Center, offering programs for professionals in the parks, special events, public facility, and health related fields. Each year, more than 1,500 leaders visit Oglebay to learn and train on the latest best management practices and how to improve their operations and community.
- Oglebay is home to the region’s first green building, the Schrader Environmental Center.
- Oglebay is home to the Mansion and Glass Museums, two of the five AAM accredited museums in West Virginia. The Oglebay Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Oglebay’s Festival of Lights is one the largest, oldest, and most successful holiday light shows in North America.
- Oglebay serves as the founding location of both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the National Recreation and Parks Association.
- Oglebay and Wheeling Parks are leaders in conservation and sustainability. Investments and improvements are made annually to shrink the parks’ ecological footprint and provide education to the next generation of stewards.
Visitor Stories & Quotes
“We realized how important the parks have been to our family and we wanted to be part of something that is important to all the community’s children.”
– Amy & Frank O’Brien on their Access to the Parks gift in memory of their daughter, Brigid
“I love having fun and seeing all my cousins. It’s my favorite vacation!”
– 10-year old at her four-generation family reunion in the Hess Cottage
“During all the stages in our lives Oglebay has been a great place to be. There is so much to do here for all ages.”
– Al and Bev Higley, donors for the construction of three deluxe cottages
“Oglebay, for me, has been that rare place that is imprinted on my mind. All my memories are positive and cheerful. Working there as a youth was the best and most important job I ever had.”
– Philip B. Crosby, business quality guru and creator of Zero Defects concept
“Not only do I get a good return on my financial investment, but I am also pleased that my donation is going to benefit a place I care about deeply.”
– Ann Potter, donor/participant in an Oglebay Foundation Charitable Program
“It is wonderful that a city the size of Wheeling has a facility as nice as the Good Zoo.”
– Helen Prince, donor to Good Zoo’s veterinary facility
“The money was earned in Wheeling and that’s where it should stay.”
– Ellen Lutz Aldridge in her bequest that supported revenue generating additions to Wilson Lodge