WHEELING - The sale of downtown Wheeling's historic Fort Henry Club to McKinley and Associates is final, according to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church officials.
The Rev. Mark Seitz said the parties met this morning to close the deal. He did not disclose the exact purchase price for the more than 160-year-old structure at the corner of 14th and Chapline streets, but said it is in excess of $70,000 - enough to recover the cost of property taxes, upkeep and the $40,000 the church paid the Fort Henry Club in 2009 for the rights to purchase the building, which it did in December 2011.
"We have sold it for what we have in it, and I think that's more than folks will realize," Seitz said.
When it appeared the club was struggling to stay afloat, St. Matthew's - located right across 14th Street - stepped up to acquire the purchase rights for the building to avoid a potential future sale at public auction. The initial plan, Seitz said, was to attract additional investors to make the building viable once again.
"The fear was that it would end up in the hands of someone who couldn't really afford (to renovate it). ... Our hope initially was that the Fort Henry Club would stay in business," he said.
Seitz previously said it would cost $900,000 to renovate the structure valued most recently at $154,000 by the Ohio County Assessor's office. The church at one point was prepared to seek bids for demolition before McKinley and Associates expressed a desire to buy the property.
"We are grateful for their willingness to take on this task," Seitz said.
McKinley and Associates President Ernie Dellatorre said in February it was his firm's intention to rent the building as office space, but those plans weren't final. Dellatorre couldn't be reached this morning for comment.
Built in the 1850s as the Howell Mansion, the building was home to the Fort Henry Club, a private social organization that dates back to 1890, until its closing in September 2011. In its heyday, the building reportedly hosted the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover and Babe Ruth.