Historic home gets new lease on life

Craig Wix has sold Parkersburg’s “Castle” at 1209 Ann St. to Standard Oil Co. Inc. for $300,000.

The oil and gas drilling company plans to spend about $150,000 to restore the historic structure in the next year to year and a half, Richard C. Zelnar, Standard Oil’s president and chairman of the board of directors, told me Thursday evening.

Standard Oil shareholders will stay at the three-story brick building, called the Van Winkle-Wix House, when in town after the extensive restoration is completed, Zelnar said. It will not be used for commercial purposes, he said.

“We are excited to be here,” Zelnar said. The historical tie with Standard Oil operations in Parkersburg in the 19th and 20th centuries and the “good value” of the property appealed to the company, Zelnar said.

Standard Oil Co. Inc. is 15 years old and has offices in Parkersburg and New Haven, W.Va.

Zelnar said Standard Oil is looking for oil and gas companies and wells to buy.

Residents of the Julia-Ann Square Historic District have been stopping by to welcome the new owners, Zelnar said. The Van Winkle-Wix House is on the district’s historic walking tour.

Peter Mongeau, land manager, leasing and acquisitions for Standard Oil, said he was impressed by the beautiful homes in the historic district. He sees a bright future for oil and gas drilling in the region and state.

The vacant building sits on about an acre of land with the property stretching to Murdoch Avenue.

Wix, who owns other properties in Julia-Ann Square, has owned the building since 1985.

It was built around 1833 by Peter G. Van Winkle, who was a U.S. senator from Parkersburg, president of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad Co. and played a major role in writing the West Virginia Constitution.

Ann Street did not exist and the two-story house faced the Ohio River when it was built, Wix said. Around 1870, the house was remodeled and turned around to face the current historic district, he said.

The roof was raised to add a third floor and a wing and round tower were built. The building has housed a girls school and apartments, Wix said.

Wix said he rebuilt the top part of the house and lived in the building at various times. “We wanted to protect the building,” he said.

“It needs a lot of work … It could be impressive,” Wix said.

The sale is important because it demonstrates the oil and gas company’s long-term commitment to the area, Wix said.


Caden Florence, 13, of Parkersburg will be among the amateur supercross motorcycle racers competing at the third annual Monster Energy Cup today at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. “It is the biggest race of my life so far,” Florence said. Joining the young motorcycle jumper in Nevada are his grandfather Dave Florence of Parkersburg and mechanic Don Harris Jr. of Vienna. The professionals in supercross racing will be competing for a $1 million purse this weekend. The action will be televised tonight on Fox Sports (local channel 65) at 10 p.m., said Dave Florence. Caden, who attends Hamilton Middle School, has been racing motorcycles since he was 5 years old and is an Amateur National Arenacross champion. He will be racing in the super-mini class.


“Dracula,” which finished an eight-performance run on Oct. 12, was one of the best attended plays at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg in recent years. There were more than 1,500 admissions for the show, said Gary McIntyre, president of the Guild’s Board of Directors. Last Saturday night’s performance was sold out. Next up for the Actors Guild is Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” the musical, which opens Nov. 22 and features three matinees instead of the usual one.


As of Thursday evening, 150 tickets had been sold for tonight’s Halloween party fundraiser at the Parkersburg Art Center. Director Abby Hayhurst said she’s heard a lot of Halloween-costumed adults plan to buy their tickets at the door. Hayhurst is impressed by the Huntington-based band Qiet, which will be performing at the 8:30 p.m. party.

Contact Paul LaPann at