Oglebay spans over 2,400 beautiful acres of Wheeling, West Virginia. The manicured park that includes the arboretum, the Crispin Center and Oglebay Pool, Wilson Lodge, the Good Zoo and the Hilltop is the most familiar part of the park to guests and visitors.
The Hilltop is often a person’s first glimpse of Oglebay. Conveniently located of WV State Route 88, this approach maintains many of the original buildings from the Oglebays’ time here. These historic places include the: Gate House, stately Oglebay Mansion, Guest House – Casino, Palm Room and Greenhouses, Farm Office and Gardener’s Room, and Farm Manager’s home. Today these buildings respectively act as: a private residence for park staff; the Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum; the Oglebay Foundation Offices; Palm Room; Wheeling Park Commission Office of Human Resources; and the main office with the Farm House Sweets and Treats shop on the ground floor.
In addition to these wonderful original buildings, following the level, red-brick pathway, approximately two blocks in total, guests experience the Bissonnette Gardens – which are a re-creation of Mrs. Oglebay’s gardens at the turn of the 20th Century, two fountains, the formal gardens and pool, Anna Kuchinka Amphitheater, the Welcome Center, Garden Bistro Restaurant, Bushfeld Pergola and the terraced gardens, as well as the Carriage House Glass shop and Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum – home of the Sweeny Punch bowl, one of the largest pieces of cut glass ever made.
The horticulture team plans to return the Palm Room to its original function as a conservatory, the ultimate status symbol from the early 1900s. Leveraging tropical plants such as crotons, bromeliads, lilies and palms, the conservatory will change seasonally with pansies and spring flowers; petunias and summer annuals; chrysanthemums and fall materials; as well as poinsettias and Christmas plantings. A water feature will be reintroduced to this peaceful oasis as well.
The Palm Room and adjacent Greenhouses were designed by Lord & Burnham a greenhouse manufacturer and builders of major public conservatories. They also designed the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA in 1892-3.
Historic photos of the Oglebay Palm Room show towering banana palms, exotic pygmy dates, lush ferns, shrubs and plants. Mrs. Oglebay used the Palm Room and adjacent Greenhouses to grow exotic flowers for arrangements throughout the mansion.
The Palm Room, Greenhouses and the adjacent Welcome Center buildings make up the Aileen Kraft Garden Center. Of course,
guests can also take in the best views of the arboretum and enjoy the delicious meals offered in the Garden Bistro Restaurant on the lower level.
Like the conservatory, the plantings on the Hilltop evolve throughout the year. Early spring bulbs include multicolored tulips and cheerful daffodils; lush summer plants include an array of textures and colors from celosia, canna, salvia, begonia, argyranthemum, cleome, bidens, gomphrena, verbena, hanging baskets overflowing with petunia attracting butterflies and hummingbirds throughout the season; colorful fall chrysanthemums, ending with our annual gardens of light for Festival of Lights each winter. The Hilltop is truly always in bloom.