Coal smoke from the steel factory and home heating have left black soot on monumental churches downtown, and many of these congregations have shrunken or disappeared altogether, but browsing the gothic architecture is still well worthwhile. First, there are two Presbyterian churches downtown, one of which has been transferred to another denomination. The Presbyterians are in general well represented in this part of Ohio, having churches in many places. The largest church in downtown Steubenville is the First Westminster Presbyterian Church on North Fourth Street, that merged with the congregation of the First United Presbyterian Church, the building of which still stands on North Fifth Street, just a block away. Though smaller the former First United Presbyterian Church building has outstanding stain glass windows, stone ornamentation, and interesting red doors. The twin gothic towers of the 1914 Westminster Presbyterian Church remains one of the most impressive buildings in Steubenville.
At the corner of 3rd and Market Streets, in front of the Jefferson County Court House, is a large bronze statue of Edwin M. Stanton. Stanton, a native of Steubenville born in 1814, served in a number of government offices, but was most famous for being Abraham Lincoln's Attorney General, and later, Secretary of War. The statue was dedicated in 1911, and was recently restored. Jefferson County was the fifth county formed from the Northwest Territories, created in 1797 when Jefferson was president. The county was at the time just beyond the border of Pennsylvania, one of the original 13 colonies, and Steubenville was just across the Ohio river. The Jefferson County Courthouse is a significant architectural gem in downtown Steubenville.
The restored version of the old fort was closed for the winter at the time of my arrival, but I walked the perimeter and studied the location of the corner markers that show the location of the original stockade above the Ohio river. The recreated stockade is expertly crafted, and there's a museum worth visiting. The frontier fort was orginally built as a defense against Indians in 1787, and it housed some 150 soldiers of the 1st regiment of the American army. Open daily May through October.
The city has had a problem of blackened building walls from the burning of coal at the steel factories and in home heaters, and so after sandblasting the brick and stone in recent times, it must have occured to civic leaders that downtown had plenty of mural space. There are some 25 murals downtown, most appear to be stylized work by the same artists and approved by a civic committee. Mural themes reflect the history of the town and the purpose to which the building on which it is painted was originally devoted.
The hilltop community of Steubenville should actually be part of the "off the beaten path" tips since getting there involves extra effort. I climbed a steep snow covered hillside, nearly freezing in the process, hoping to not only find interesting homes of the wealthier Steubenville residents, but also a great overview of the city. Fortunately, I found both, and so the winter hike was worth the effort. At the top of my climb was an outstanding sandstone block home that according to one resident had been abandoned for sometime before being restored to its present grandeur. Most of Steubenville homes off the cliffside view locations are better described as upper middle class homes of medium architectural interest, but I enjoyed wandering the neighborhood anyway.
St. Paul's is the oldest church in town (circa 1792) and the cornerstone of the current building dates back in part to the 1830's, although the current building proper dates back to 1880. This church was designed by George W. Hewett of Philadelphia, and is described as being of the "low gothic order". It is built of locally quarried sandstone. St. Paul's congregation is not only the oldest in Steubenville, but also all of Ohio. The church website tells of the interesting history of being founded virtually upon the ashes of the burned down Fort Steuben, shortly after an Indian war had set the fort ablaze.
This corner of Ohio, and the Northwest Territories in general, were particularly influenced by early French fur trappers who explored the area, so it's not surprising that a French Catholic diocese would also be an early part of the community in Steubenville. St. Peter's is part of a Dominican order that started in 1832, although the building dates to circa 1905. The French Rennaisance style building dominates the Steubenville skyline, having to lofty towers and a central dome. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been extensively renovated. Note the detailed sandstone block ornamentation in the facade. I visited in the late afternoon on a winter day, so my images are a little dim. I also saw the interior but didn't take photos because communion was in progress. The interior altar and dome are definetly worth a peek.
Certainly, for many generations, Steubenville town folk walked from church and downtown to the upper hill residences via a couple of stairways and trails through a forest thicket, which had been constructed and maintained by the city. One of these is officially closed, but I trudged up the icy step and deep snow trail anyway. I saw deer leap past me. The other is a frightening descent in winter, but has great views of the city and river. In the later images, notice the broken stair railing, and snow covered path through the Ohio forest thicket. At the bottom, there's a nice upslope past an abandoned Polish Catholic Church, leading to the now closed stairway up to the hilltop community.
The escarpment bends with the river, and so around the top edge homes have different views. Some homes peer out over Hwy 22 and the Old Fort Steuben Bridge. Many homes on this side though are cut off by a forest. Here also are some substantial home architecture away from the edge. I noticed a sign in my walk that indicated the community meets regularly for civic matters unique to the hilltop homes.
The upper Ohio at Steubenville has a number of venerable old bridges and a relatively new cable-stayed bridge. See the link below for all the measurements of the new cable-stayed Veterans Memorial bridge that has some architectural merit spanning the 800 plus wide gap in the Ohio River along US22. Interestingly, despite the newness of the bridge, a 2005 engineering review found it structurally deficient, mostly because of a poor structural condition rating of the aesthetically appealing superstructure tower and cables. However, the 1928, Fort Steuben Bridge, a twin tower suspension bridge, has been permanently closed because of structurally irrepairable for motorized traffic. Local opposition to its demolition in favor of use as a pedestrian and bicycle trail bridge have failed to pass Ohio DOT plans because of poor routing of bicycle traffic along the very busy US22. Even older still is the Market Street bridge (1904) that is weight and height restricted to automobiles only. This bridge is right downtown and crosses to West Virginia Hwy 2. Most of the photos below are of the easy to shoot Market Street Bridge. The overhead straight on view of the Veterans's Memorial, combined with the railroad tressel bridge is the other main photo. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good shot of the old Fort Steuben Bridge that is scheduled to be demolished in April 2009.
Despite the design by committee appearance, there is a variety of interesting murals in Steubenville, many of which can be contrasted with the architecture. Here are a few more of the total of 25 around town.
The hilltop residential part of Steubenville is quite apart from the downtown, and well downriver from the steel mills. Many of the finest homes in town overlook the city and the sandstone escarpment that dominates the other side of the river. Inspite of being above the city, many of these homes have to be sandblasted to remove the unsightly accumulation of coal smoke.
Steubenville has an incredible selection of authentic italian cuisine and a few italian markets and festivities. To begin....there are three incredible restaurants that immediately come to mind. For anyone who has never been...it is a must. My personal favorite is located right next door to steubenville in wintersville. The name is Da Peppinos and is located on Mainstreet. They offer delicious homemade spaghetti(i have ordered it almost every single time since I was 4). However, other dishes like raviolli and rigatoni are popular as they are smothered in a plethera of melted cheese. Another trademark italian bistro is Naples. This restaurant is known for their spaghetti as well. It is located downtown and though I haven't been there many times....it still holds the best reputation in town. Lastly, right across the river in Weirton, West Virginia(only about 3 miles from downtown steubenville) is Mario's. Other than their killer pasta's and excellent atmosphere, they have the best salad in town(even better than the olive garden). Any of these three places can most likely be found on www.mapquest .com, but if not just contact me and I'll let you know. These places are "must eats" because aside of their great meals, they have a true italian flair. You will probably notice that 65% of the people who walk in the door will kiss the owner on both cheeks while greeting them loudly in Italian. Bravo!
There's a tiny park in the center of town with two murals, one of a bridge that appears quite old. And, then there's the bank and firehouse murals...
At the corner of 4th and Market is a small collection of tall business buildings, mostly dating back to the 1930's. Some of these have been renovated with poor architectural results, in my oppinion.