This blog began with a proposition that seemed impossible: the chance to explore a basement full of artifacts from a place that no longer exists. Mount de Chantal’s walls may be gone, but what was left behind was an overwhelming amount of history in the form of photos, letters, class lists, and even the occasional grocery receipt. It’s like finding a letter from a cherished relative long after they’ve died and being excited to see something new from them.
For me personally, my connection to the Mount began more than 100 years before I was born (when I say I’m from here, I really really mean it). You see, my mother’s great-great grandparents were French immigrants. They owned and operated a tavern somewhere in downtown Wheeling that’s now been lost to history. They also had a couple of daughters who were briefly enrolled as students at Mount de Chantal before West Virginia was even a state. I can only imagine that what Anthony and Catherine Menger wanted was for their children to have an education with other French Catholics in their adopted homeland.
Though family circumstances changed over the years, the legend that my mother’s great grandmother had once been a Mount girl endured until it was time to find a school for me. I don’t remember my first day as a preschool student in Montessori, but I do remember later scouring the photo collections near the parlor looking for familiar faces. One face that would become very familiar was my classmate and fast friend Vanessa Govindan’s, whom I do remember meeting on our first day of First Grade.
Vanessa’s family could tell their own – much newer – story of coming to America and making it their adopted home, but I can imagine their motives were much the same in wanting a quality education for their own three daughters. On that day in Lower School, I couldn’t have imagined my new friend would later become my oldest son’s godmother and someone who would trust me to help her build a business around the things we loved: our hometown, our school, and now something entirely new.
When we started this blog devoted to preserving the Mount’s past, we decided we would fund it by asking our readers to do something simple. But it’s no coincidence that we chose buying cups of coffee as that simple thing. As well as being the lifeblood of adulthood, coffee is another one of those things Vanessa and I share a great love for.
So now, we are excited to announce our next big adventure: The Wheeling Feeling Coffee! We’ve sampled a number of blends and are getting ready to partner with a small-batch roaster who will ship our coffee straight to your door. What once seemed unimaginable is about to become real. We’ll share more about this new project in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we wanted to thank you for keeping us caffeinated and sharing in a legacy that we think makes Wheeling such a special place. Stay tuned!
But till then you can donate a cup of coffee here!