Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church
Steeple Restoration Project 2013

Historic picture of Our Lady of Lebanon 
Maronite Catholic Church façade 
Circa 1920s -Wheeling, West Virginia
Steeple Restoration Project 2013
     In 2013, the Parish Council of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church approved plans to replace the steeple that once adorned its historical building at 2216 Eoff Street in Wheeling, West Virginia. The project, which helped to restore and preserve the steeple and other significant historical architectural features of the state’s only Maronite Catholic Church, cost $136,000. The project was funded by direct contributions from individual and community donors, as well as proceeds from the Church’s 80th annual Mahrajan in August, 2013. 
Historical Perspective: The Old Steeple and Bell 
The following are highlights from an article titled “Bell Will Become Memorial” that was published in Wheeling’s News-Register about the demolition of the original steeple of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church at 2216 Eoff Street in Wheeling, West Virginia. An image of the newspaper article is shown here. The scanned document is available at www.ololwv.com. 
  • Publication date: April 25, 1979 
  • The steeple was struck twice by lightning in the 1960s causing the structure to weaken. The bell, which weighed around 3,000 pounds, was too heavy for the tower. The lightning also caused the tower to lean and damaged the plaster. 
  • The bell, made in Saint Louis and donated to the parish in 1923 by Christian Hess in memory of his daughter, Mary Agnes, was removed. 
  • Fr. Joseph Shaheen was the pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church and Joseph Bardwil of Bellaire was the parish council president. 
  • The steeple was taken down in mid April 1979, along with the cross shown with Fr. Shaheen in the news article’s picture, by Thompson and Clutter of McMechen, and A.J. Construction Co. The crane used to remove the bell belonged to Power City Co. All of the firms donated their services. 
  • The parish council voted to have the steeple and bell removed. Plans were made to rebuild the tower with a slanted roof. 
  • The church had approximately 200 families in 1979. 
The New Steeple, Electronic Chimes and Building Improvements 
  • The bell was replaced by chimes. In 2001, when Reverend Bakhos Chidiac arrived in Wheeling, parishioners asked him to fix the chimes that were out of order. The parishioners liked the sound of the bells before and after Mass. After an investigation, it was determined that the chimes were outdated and beyond repair. 
  • In 2004, Reverend Bakhos Chidiac and the parish council agreed to exchange the bell that was stored in the garage with many pieces missing – into electronic chimes from the Verdin Company. The new chimes ring automatically every day at a scheduled time. 
  • After building a new addition to the church in 2008, which included Cedar Hall and made the church building more accessible, the following repairs and improvements were made to the interior of the church: 1) the original altar was moved from back to front, 2) a new lighting system was installed, 3) a new sound system was added, 4) new carpet was installed, 5) walls were painted, 6) pews were repaired, 7) statues were repaired and painted, 8) and the stations of the cross were cleaned and polished. 
  • In 2013, Monsignor Bakhos Chidiac (promoted in 2011), pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Church, and the parish council decided to restore the steeple to its original 1922 design. Architect Larry Siebieda and Walters Construction were selected for the project, which spanned from July to November 2013. 
  • A brick parapet in the shape of the crown of the Blessed Mother was found and restored at the base of the steeple. By completing this project, the church more closely resembles its original design and has been restored to its unique beauty of 1922. 
  • The 2013 steeple, electronic chimes and building improvements project was funded by the generosity of private donors, community sources, and proceeds from the 80th annual Mahrajan in August, 2013. Structural damages inside the bell tower were also corrected. The damages occurred as a result of the 1932 fire, which gutted the building, and from being struck by lightning over the years. 
     Photo of Our Lady Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church complex prior to the 2013 steeple restoration project. 
     The parish hall wing, which provided an accessible entrance to the church, an elevator, restrooms, social hall, and kitchen, was added to the church in 2008.