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‘Person Of Interest’ Is Wheeling Native

November 12, 2011
By LINDA COMINS Life Editor , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Area fans of the new television drama, "Person of Interest," will see a familiar name in the credits this week.

Wheeling native Sean Hennen, who is a member of the writing staff for the J.J. Abrams-produced series, has written the season's eighth episode, which is scheduled to air on CBS stations at 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17. Hennen's name is slated to be listed in the opening credits.

Hennen, the son of Mike and Sherry Hennen of Wheeling, is a graduate of Linsly School and Elon (N.C.) University. A former intern with the Wheeling News-Register, he has worked for the Lionsgate studios in Los Angeles and as an independent screenwriter.

With a nip in the air and the threat of flurries, officials of the Wheeling Park Commission unveiled the 27th edition of the Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Park Thursday, Nov. 10. Bursts of fireworks punctuated the night sky as park representatives "flipped the switch" for the official opening of the lighting festival.

With the majority of the displays now illuminated with light-emitting-diode bulbs, a bright, spectacular show awaits area residents and out-of-town visitors nightly through Sunday, Jan. 8.

A sad chapter is being written in Wheeling's history as demolition has begun of the historic buildings of the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy.

Many regarded Mount de Chantal's main building as an architectural gem, a historical treasure and a physical symbol of beauty, grace and reverence for God.

For anyone who ever attended or worked at Mount de Chantal, for anyone who knows and loves someone who studied at the school, for anyone who knows and loves someone who taught in the academy, for anyone who ever participated in a faith-sharing or prayer group or studied with the nuns and for anyone who ever attended a concert, viewed an art exhibition, attended a program at the school, worshiped in the magnificent chapel or admired the architecture and artwork within the building, Mount de Chantal was a special place, a treasured piece of the city's history and tradition. The building's cultural, educational and religious significance mattered to those who care about such qualities.

Sadly, the physical structure of that grand building is being obliterated in a cloud of dust.

With plans for the property shrouded in secrecy, punctuated by considerable speculation and persistent rumor, those who loved and admired the Mount de Chantal campus are saddened and/or infuriated. The prohibition on photographing the destruction puzzles and/or angers those who feel a connection to the buildings. Obviously, safety concerns are of paramount importance, but it seems cruel and petty to ban the media from taking photographs of the demolition from a secure distance. The ban seems to have simply hardened the resolve of those intent on taking pictures of the process (and, yes, some photos have emerged). Surely, the powers-that-be must realize that people will notice when a major landmark in the community is being destroyed.

People who sought to save and preserve the Mount feel that they were denied a full opportunity to present their ideas and suggestions for adaptive reuse of the buildings to the property's private owners and the powers-that-be. Historians and preservationists spoke out about the historic value of the buildings and cited the importance of maintaining this architectural treasure for future generations to enjoy and utilize.

Historians note that the Most Rev. Richard V. Whelan, first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling, laid bricks and completed the design of Mount de Chantal's main building after the original builder absconded with the plans. The first bishop laid bricks for the building.

Carol Shull, whose professional title is "keeper of the National Register of Historic Places," is scheduled to visit Wheeling this week. Her itinerary for Wednesday, Nov. 16, includes a notation for the 8:45 a.m. time slot: "Visit Mount de Chantal." Hmmm, the National Register's "keeper" is going to find that plan difficult to accomplish.

I'll leave it to you, gentle readers, to contemplate the sad ironies of this situation. Personally, I am suspicious of leaders who ignore their predecessors' accomplishments and seek to obliterate their legacy.

Even though the historic buildings of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy are being reduced to rubble, no one can destroy the memories of those who loved the school and who studied, taught and learned in that facility. The lessons learned, the insight gained, the friendships formed, the bonds forged, the lives touched, cannot be taken away. The legacy of Mount de Chantal remains alive in those who cared.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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