West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

West Virginia Independence Hall to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Special Activities on Saturday, Nov. 18


WHEELING, W.Va. – West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) in Wheeling will celebrate Thanksgiving with special activities on Saturday, Nov. 18. The event is free and open to the public.

Beginning at 11 a.m., younger visitors can create a Thanksgiving craft on the lower level of the museum to take home. Refreshments also will be served. At 1 p.m., John W. King, a first-person portrayer of Abraham Lincoln, will speak in the Hall’s historic courtroom, followed by a question and answer session and photos with ‘Lincoln.’

The pilgrims are credited with starting the tradition of Thanksgiving in America, but declaring Thanksgiving Day a formal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November required a proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, calling on Americans to “set apart and observe the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving,” partly to celebrate victories in the then-raging Civil War. 

King will tell Lincoln’s story of Thanksgiving and how he also was the first president to pardon a turkey, what has become an annual tradition. Each year, the president pardons a turkey before Thanksgiving.

In 2013, King won the “Lincoln Look-Alike Contest” at the Shriver House Museum in Gettysburg, Penn. He was judged the most genuine-looking Abraham Lincoln of the group. For the past 25 years, he has been telling the story of the 16th president during great conflict.

For more information about this event or WVIH, contact Debbie Jones, site manager, at (304) 238-1300 or Deborah.J.Jones@wv.gov.

West Virginia Independence Hall has been on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) since 1970. It was originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.

   The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is proud to be able to present its programs at no charge to the public, but without a solution to the state’s budget situation, this could be the last year that programs of this type could be offered. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. It brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.



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