Who says Parkersburg doesn’t have culture? Although we are not New York City, London, or Paris, the local art scene in Downtown is thriving. Walk up and down Market Street and you will see an art exhibit, playhouse, theatre, restaurants featuring live music, beautifully restored historic buildings, and more!
Parkersburg Art Center
Founded in 1938, the Art Center is the oldest continually operating arts organization in West Virginia. Featuring six separate galleries, the center hosts an average of 16 exhibits per year. You can find artwork of all kinds, including local and regional artists, international artists, and even work by area kids in the children’s gallery.
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 and free for children under 12. Wednesdays are “Get in for Free” days.
The Art Center will host Art-O-Rama on Saturday, March 16th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This free community arts day features hands-on activities, dance demos, musicians, pottery demonstrations, drumming, science, drama, and concessions.
A staple of Downtown Parkersburg since 1926, the Smoot Theatre is a beautifully restored Vaudeville Theatre. Featuring original chandeliers and mahogany and brass doors, the Smoot represents “the simple elegance of a day-gone-by.”
Shows and events at the theatre include live music from all genres, children’s theatre, comedy shows, dancers, lectures, meetings, seminars, and more.
Upcoming shows include Songs of Ireland: A Celtic Celebration (March 9), The Broadway Tenors (March 30), and Celebrate Celine (April 25).
Featuring the best local talent, the Actors Guild of Parkersburg has been entertaining audiences since before World War II. The Guild is comprised entirely of volunteers. All funding comes from local community organizations and individuals.
Currently running is, The Game’s Afoot, with remaining performances on March 8, 9, 10, 15 & 16.
Upcoming shows include ABBA’s smash hit, Mamma Mia! (April 19 – May 11), On Golden Pond (June 14 – 29), and La Cage aux Folles (July 26 – August 10).
Arts in downtown are not limited to just paintings or plays. Most Friday and Saturday nights, live local artists can be found performing at restaurants downtown. Brunello Restaurant & Bar, our brand-new restaurant opening this spring, will have live entertainment. Join us on the patio or in the lounge every Friday & Saturday night from June through September.
Parkersburg Brewing Co. and The Coffee Bar also feature live music throughout the year from a variety of area artists.
Experience the Arts
If you’re interested in experiencing the arts downtown and want to make a night of it, we have a year-round package available! Visit our offers page for more information and to book.
Photo Credit: PAC Instagram / Anonymous Artist
A night of mystery, intrigue, and disguises awaits this New Year’s Eve at the Blennerhassett Hotel. Masquerade is the theme for Downtown Parkersburg’s signature celebration.
Your night begins with a complimentary mask and check-in to one of our luxurious guestrooms.
Drinks and dinner are next as the bar opens at 6:30 p.m. and dinner served promptly at 7 p.m. Our culinary team will serve a delicious four course meal fit for a classic European masquerade ball.
Dinner begins with Sweet Chili Shrimp Tapas and a Mixed Greens Salad, followed by a delicious duo plate of Grilled Petite Filet & Herb Marinated Chicken. Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Our pastry chef will have a trio of sweet treats coming next: Crème Brûlée tart, Caramel Popcorn Pot de Crème Shooter & Miniature Opera Cakes.
After dinner and a few drinks, we know you’ll be ready to hit the dancefloor. Dance the night away to the sounds of Hit Play, from Wheeling, WV. Their repertoire includes all the top hits, from the Beatles to Bruno Mars, Journey to Adele, and everything in between! We know they will be a “hit!”
Need a break from getting down on the dancefloor? Not to fear, there will be a complimentary photo booth and a Sweet & Salty Snack Bar at 11 p.m. for that late-night craving.
However, make sure you are back in the ballroom before midnight to watch the countdown festivities from Times Square and ring in 2019 with a champagne toast on us!
Once the ball has dropped, the time comes for everyone to remove their masks and reveal their identity. While we have no official dress code for the evening, guests are invited to wear gold, black, red, or burgundy (and a mask, of course!) to enhance the mood of the evening.
2019 is fast approaching and space is limited, so be sure to book your stay soon! Packages begin at $329 per couple and reservations are required. Book directly on our website (link below) using the “New Year’s Eve” rate or call and speak to our Reservationist.
Join us this New Year’s Eve for an enchanted night of drinks, dinner, dancing, and disguises!
For full menu & details, visit our New Year’s Eve page under the offers tab: http://www.theblennerhassett.com/offers.html
What’s Happening at the Hotel This Fall
Leaves are starting to change, the air is getting crisp, football season has begun and pumpkin everything has taken over our coffee drinks. Even though summer is wrapping up and fall is beginning, there are still plenty of happenings at the Blennerhassett Hotel!
Downtown Throwdown BBQ & Brewfest
Saturday, Sept. 15 from 6-10 p.m.
This barbecue and craft beer event takes place in the heart of Downtown Parkersburg, conveniently located beside the hotel. Bring your friends and try food from the best restaurants in town and craft beer from all over the country. Brews from all over West Virginia are available, and local breweries featured include Parkersburg Brewing Company and North End Tavern. Enjoy live entertainment throughout the night from Back Porch Alibi and Hit Parade as you sip and savor the best flavors Parkersburg has to offer.
September Stein & Dine
Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Our final Beer Dinner of the year will feature craft beer from Bridge Brew Works, located in Fayetteville, WV. The evening will feature four courses of flavorfully paired brews and food. The dinner is $55 per person, and overnight packages are available. For the full menu and more information, please visit our September Stein & Dine page.
Haunted Parkersburg Tours
Every Friday & Saturday night beginning Sept. 29
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Parkersburg’s spookiest walking tour of the year begins in the hotel lobby and travels throughout the downtown area. Learn about our city’s haunted history and paranormal tales as tour guides take you on a walking tour to all the scariest stops. New for 2018, Friday nights will be True Crime Tours, featuring hauntings from some of Parkersburg most famous crimes. Saturday night will be the traditional Ghost Tours. For package pricing and details please visit our Haunted Parkersburg page.
Mansion by Candlelight
This annual event invites you to become a guest for the evening at the home and island of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. Options available include the candlelight tours of the mansion, horse-drawn carriage ride and the Harvest Dinner. Hotel packages are available that include an overnight room, ferry ride, $20 spending card, and two tickets to all the evening’s festivities. Optional Harvest Dinner available for purchase. For package options and more information, visit our Mansion by Candlelight page.
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Remember to stop by the Blennerhassett Coffee Bar for Starbucks© signature fall drinks, including Pumpkin Spice Lattes & Salted Caramel Mocha Fraps. And don’t forget to greet Sir William C. Bonesworth and his dogs in the lobby on your way in!
We hope to see you soon at one of the many exciting events going on in and around the hotel this fall!
Our annual Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet will begin booking Oct. 1, with menu and information soon to come on our website. And for those of you already thinking about the Holiday Season, refer back to our last blog.
BLENNY BLOG by Seth Barbarow on July 25, 2018
It may not look or feel like Christmas right now, but the holiday season is just a few months away! Hallmark is showing Christmas movies, Amazon just had their Christmas in July “Prime Day” and the Blennerhassett Hotel is gearing up for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Festival of Trees
Nov. 20 – Dec. 6 , 2018
The best sign that Christmas season has arrived is trees decorated and lining the Blennerhassett Hotel’s promenade. Every holiday season we deck the halls with beautifully decorated Christmas Trees and the tradition continues to grow.
After the viewing display is over, the trees are auctioned off to raise money for Easter Seals. Through events and fundraisers such as Festival of Trees, Easter Seals raises money to provide resources and assistance to people with disabilities and their families.
Jingle & Mingle
Our Sales & Catering Team has everything you need to plan the holiday party your employees want and deserve. We have event space, catering, and the jolliest staff around. Plus, room rental is 50% off if you book now!
Event spaces and dates go quickly, so make sure to book soon. Our Sales & Catering Manager, Nicole Guinn, would love to speak with you, and she will make this year’s Christmas Party historically awesome.
Breakfast with Santa
November 24, 2018
Skip the lines and craziness of the mall, and come visit Santa right here at the Blennerhassett Hotel! Santa always makes sure to visit us each year for breakfast and photos.
There will be several time slots to visit with Jolly Old St. Nick, but they fill up quickly. Check our website and Facebook Page this fall for ticket information.
December 10 – 26, 2018
The Gingerbread Festival will return for the 2018 holiday season. Habitat for Humanity will be back as our partner for this event and all proceeds from the entry fees and People’s Choice donations will go to them.
Dates and entry forms will be posted to our Facebook page and website. Displays will be available for viewing through Christmas.
The holiday season is a busy time at The Blennerhassett Hotel, but events are held throughout the year. Gift cards make a perfect Christmas present. They can be used for anything at the hotel, including our Pairing Dinners, Culinary School, dinner at Spats Restaurant, Starbucks from our Coffee Bar, and even overnight stays!
New Year’s Eve
December 31, 2018
The fun does not stop after December 25. Join us to ring in 2019 at our New Year’s Eve Celebration.
• Live Band – Hit Play from Wheeling, WV
• Overnight stay in one of our luxurious rooms
• Plated dinner for two in the Ballroom
• Delicious desserts from our Pastry Chef
• Champagne Toast at Midnight
• Free Breakfast the next morning from Spats Restaurant
Let the Christmas Countdown Begin!
Well, maybe not all roads led here, but Parkersburg was certainly a major hub of transportation throughout the 1800s. When our nation was growing rapidly thanks to westward exploration and expansion of industry, Parkersburg’s strategic location on a major river and several transportation routes made it a major regional center. Parkersburg was the terminus for two early major turnpike routes, the Northwestern Turnpike and the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike. These two roads brought traffic from the east to the Ohio River and beyond.
In early 19th century, many roads were built as turnpikes. After the state government granted approval and a charter, a private company would typically raise 2/5th of the capital needed to build the road and the General Assembly would pay the other 3/5th. Then the private company had the responsibility to build and maintain the road and the right to collect tolls. Very few of the turnpikes were financially successful, especially in the mountainous region of western Virginia, where building a road proved expensive. Full ownership of all the turnpikes eventually reverted to the government, especially after the Civil War. Many of the state and county highways we travel today started out as turnpikes.
The Northwestern Turnpike
The Northwestern Turnpike was chartered in 1827 by the Virginia General Assembly. Unlike other turnpikes, it was 100% government funded. The Northwestern Turnpike was meant to compete with the National Road (U.S. 40), which ran parallel to the north through Pennsylvania. It started construction in Winchester and reached Parkersburg in 1838.
The engineer and surveyor of the Northwestern Turnpike was Claudius Crozet, a Frenchman who had served under Napoleon and taught at West Point. Crozet was appointed the Principal Engineer for the Virginia Board of Public Works and was responsible for developing much of Virginia’s early infrastructure. He and his assistant Charles B. Shaw surmounted many difficulties in laying out a road through the mountainous terrain while keeping to standards of grade and road width.
When the Northwestern Turnpike was completed, it served as a vital link between the East Coast and the Ohio River. The pike stimulated the economy of many small towns along its length, prompting population growth and establishment of inns, taverns, stagecoach stops, livery stables and other businesses. In Parkersburg, the Northwestern Turnpike follows current-day 7th Street.
By the time the Blennerhassett Hotel opened in 1889, railroads and river navigation had somewhat supplanted turnpikes. However, the road still provided a valuable transportation link for surrounding communities and continues to do so. Today U.S. Route 50 follows the general route of the Northwestern Turnpike across West Virginia. Although it has been upgraded to four lanes between Clarksburg and Parkersburg, you can find the original road by going off the beaten path through towns like Ellenboro, Pennsboro and West Union.
Take a look at the corner of Market Street and Fourth Street and try to imagine a busy crossroads full of horses, wagons, pedestrians, river men, railroad workers, farmers, traders and a multitude of others, all converging in Parkersburg, where river, rail and road meet.
Originally published 5-8-2013 by Digital Realitivity