Wiley invests in Sistersville buildings, community’s future
SISTERSVILLE — A love for Victorian architecture turned into an economic boost for Sistersville after Terry Wiley acquired several buildings and opened businesses in the town over the past 12 years.
Although not a native of Tyler County, Wiley became familiar with the area when he was young. His family owned a farm in Middlebourne.
“My dad and I used to come up and hunt when I was a little boy,” Wiley said.
After stumbling upon Sistersville to find cell phone service, Wiley got the opportunity to explore what the town had to offer. While he sat in his parked car, he noticed a for sale sign in the window of the building in front of him.
At the time it was Dudley’s Flower shop.
“I bought the thing, I never had been inside. This was such a neat little town; it was worth it,” Wiley said.
Since Dudley’s closed in the area, Wiley decided the town needed a flower shop and opened the Sistersville Florist on Wells Street.
Across the street from the flower shop is an old bank building that is now the Sistersville Museum, also owned by Wiley.
“I’ve owned that for five years. It’s really growing. We have things that date back to when Sistersville was still Virginia. We have a ledger that had survived a fire, the pages themselves are still intact; nobody has opened it to see what’s inside,” Wiley said.
After buying the old bank building, Wiley purchased the Gaslight Theatre, built in 1898. Previously called the Paramount Theatre, the building was renovated and holds about 200 seats.
Several productions come through the historic theater, including comedy shows, orchestra performances and weddings. On the bottom floor is an art gallery and a little theater.
The old Union Bank was purchased by Wiley and converted into a coffee shop.
“We’ve had great success with the coffee shop, people love to eat inside the vault,” Wiley said.
Wiley has no plans of stopping anytime soon as he continues to buy properties and open businesses. One of his next projects is to turn a two-story, 10-bedroom house into a bed and breakfast.
All of these projects have been in the works since he moved to the area in 2007. He was drawn to the Victorian-style buildings and houses in the area.
“I like the quality of old buildings and all the hours they put into carving them,” Wiley said.
Along with saving old buildings, Wiley is interested in improving tourism in the county. The closing of the ferry this year decreased the number of tourists, he said.
“Like all small towns, we just need more people to come in and appreciate (it),” Wiley said. “We see a lot more activity when folks use the ferry.”
More mom and pop type shops are hoped to crop up in the county.
“If somebody sees somebody put forth an effort then they’re going to do it too. It’s going to be great, I’m looking forward to it,” Wiley said.
Passion for the town runs deep with Wiley, despite his relatively short time living there.
“It’s such a neat little town. Everybody knows everybody. It’s like Mayberry; it’s a pleasurable little town to live in,” he said.
Candice Black can be reached at email@example.com.