WHEELING - Susan Hogan's drive and efforts to revitalize downtown Wheeling recently earned her the Community Spirit Award, presented by Mayor Andy McKenzie during his State of the City address in February.
She has her hand in a number of ongoing and future downtown projects centered around the local arts. Notably, she had a part in the temporary Pocket Park that filled an empty lot in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets and the vinyl musician prints overlooking Main Street.
"I've been in love with downtown Wheeling since childhood," Hogan said.
Photo by Zach Macormac
Susan Hogan, recipient of the Community Spirit Award in Wheeling, holds a steel cutout of a dancer designed by local artist Susan Tracy Maness and formerly featured in the Pocket Park.
She added that working with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for 24 years only made the passion deeper.
When the Stone & Thomas retail store closed more than 20 years ago, she said she "went into denial there was a downtown without a retail spirit."
She knew she needed to work to beautify her downtown.
With the help of the city of Wheeling, Regional Economic Development Partnership and a number of volunteers, the Wheeling Arts and Culture Commission and Organization, Training, Revitalization and Capacity, or ON-TRAC, were created. With that, she had a vehicle to begin her work.
She had the opportunity to build relationships and gather funding and materials for a number of projects.
For example, the former Pocket Park was partially funded by the city and most materials were donated by local companies and artists.
She also had the access to participate in getting local artists' original murals inside the windows at the former G.C. Murphy building and the Stone Center on Market Plaza's first floor.
"We can see change coming and it's very exciting," Hogan said, noting the results of the labor are expected to encourage more development, preservation and new creation in the downtown.
This year, Wheeling residents can look to Hogan for even more projects. She said the Pocket Park may find a new home at a location in Center Wheeling, while some of the works formerly featured will find use in other upcoming projects, named "Gateways of Public Art," where scenes may soon be found near the Virginia Street Apartments and under the Fort Henry Bridge.