Windmill on a roof
PARKERSBURG – In her 14 years with the CCMH Federal Credit Union, Annette Cox has worked in four different locations, but none quite like the current one.
For the last four years, the credit union has been housed in one of the most recognizable buildings in Parkersburg – the former Quaker State service station at 800 Murdoch Ave. with a windmill on its roof.
“We do get people (who) stop here, and they take pictures,” Cox said.
The building was erected in 1928 as a Quaker State service station and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The application describes it as “a significant example of West Virginia commercial archaeology” and “an architectural folly,” a term describing a structure whose appearance is more a matter of decoration than function.
“It’s a landmark,” said Paul Borrelli, owner of Artcraft Studio, which houses an extensive collection of historic Parkersburg photos. “It’s an oddity, you might say.”
After the service station went out of business, the building was reborn as Jeanie’s Windmill Restaurant. It was purchased about 20 years ago by Bill Waldeck and his partner Dana Morris, who own William-Morris Properties.
From 1997 to 2007, it was the Windmill Restaurant, owned and operated by the late Joyce Harris and her daughter, Becky Marks.
Marks said she and her mother had a catering business and were looking to move into a restaurant location.
“We just happened to drive by there one day and thought it was a very neat place to be and it might be an attention-getter,” she said.
They were right – although the food certainly helped too.
“We were very busy, very successful,” Marks said.
Eventually, Marks and her mother moved their restaurant to Vienna, and the building briefly was the home of two other eateries: the Pepper Mill in 2008 and the Rooster’s Mill Restaurant in 2010.
Later that year, Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital – now Camden Clark Medical Center -started leasing the building from William-Morris as a credit union for the medical system’s employees, retirees, volunteers and their relatives.
“We transformed everything,” Cox said.
The interior of the building no longer hints at a past as a service station or restaurant, with additional walls, a portion closed in as a conference room and the original kitchen equipment removed in favor of a smaller kitchen area for the staff.
The windmill – which Borrelli said was once operated by a Model T Ford motor – is still capable of turning, but the electric motor isn’t activated due to liability concerns, Waldeck said.
Waldeck said the building is in good shape, with the most recent repairs having to be made two years ago when the powerful winds of a derecho storm broke boards off the windmill.
Although the hospital has purchased property around it in recent years, Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs at Camden Clark, said there are no designs on the Windmill building at this time.
“That’s just a building right now that we are just leasing, so that I know of, there’s no plans to actually purchase that building,” he said.
William-Morris bought the building because it was a good location, but Waldeck said he appreciates its uniqueness. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t one day part with it.
“I’d like to see it stay there. Of course, I don’t have anything that’s not for sale,” he said.