In the next few weeks, the historic Wheeling-made Hobbs, Brockunier chandelier, that once hung in the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, should be installed in the Wheeling Room of West Virginia Independence Hall and providing illumination once more.
As you may recall, Wheeling historian Margaret Brennan led a successful drive to raise money to purchase the 1882 chandelier for $8,200 during an auction at Mount de Chantal a few months ago. Brennan and other members of the community donated the funds to have the beautiful lighting fixture placed in the hall in honor of the late Beverly Fluty, a member emeritus of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation and one of the leaders in the major effort to restore the state's birthplace. Through the hard work of Fluty and others, the hall was later designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Brennan said that Mark Lynch, director of facility operations for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, brought a truck from Charleston in mid-July to move the chandelier from the Mount to the hall. She was told that "it took three and a half hours to disassemble the chandelier, pack it in three boxes with its steel skeleton and transfer it to the hall."
In addition, some behind-the-scenes work had to be done before the Hobbs, Brockunier chandelier could be put in place at West Virginia Independence Hall. An electric service line had to be run to the center of the Wheeling Room's ceiling where the large lighting fixture is to be installed; that portion of the Wheeling Room had not had electric service previously. Travis Henline, site manager, said that funding for the electrical work came from a grant from the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. and from funds left over from the citizens' purchase of the chandelier at auction.
Also, because the 17 1/2-foot ceiling in the Wheeling Room is 5 1/2 feet higher than that of the room where the Hobbs, Brockunier piece was housed in the former academy, a special chain will be installed to hold the chandelier in place at West Virginia Independence Hall.
After the new wiring is complete and the many pieces of the chandelier are cleaned, the lighting fixture will be reassembled in the Wheeling Room, where the Waitman T. Willey mirror from Mount de Chantal also is now displayed.
Meanwhile, if you were planning a trip to Corning, N.Y., to see the larger Hobbs, Brockunier chandelier from Mount de Chantal on display at the Corning Glass Museum, don't pack your bags or gas up the family chariot just yet.
We're told that the massive Hobbs, Brockunier chandelier - purchased by Corning Glass Museum officials during the first Mount auction - will remain, disassembled and packed in boxes, in storage at the museum's facilities indefinitely. Reportedly, the museum - which has a vast storehouse of treasures in its collection - has no immediate plans to display the Wheeling-made glass masterpiece. As with most museums, the size of its collection outweighs its exhibit space.
Speaking of West Virginia glass, a beautiful piece of it will be returning to New York with the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, as a reminder of her visit to the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia.
Jefferts Schori's trip to the Mountain State began in Charleston Thursday, Sept. 30, and included a stop at Lawrencefield Parish Church in Wheeling Saturday, Oct. 3. The presiding bishop's tour of the diocese concludes in Shepherdstown today, Oct. 3.
During an opening dinner in Jefferts Schori's honor at Blessed John XXIII Center in Charleston, the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of West Virginia, presented the presiding bishop with a gift of a cross, crafted of thick, clear glass and made in West Virginia by Blenko Glass. He noted that Blenko Glass produced the glass for one of the gorgeous stained glass windows in Washington National Cathedral.
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net