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Alumna leads celebration of 250th anniversary of Block House

Wheatley-onlineThe Point
Spring 2014

Elizabeth (Hoffman) Wheatley (COM 1993) has the best of both worlds – she is using her journalism skills in her career as well as to promote a series of events to celebrate 250th anniversary of the Fort Pitt Block House, a historic landmark that bears silent witness to Pittsburgh's history.

Wheatley wears multiple hats. She is a wife, mother of three, Delta Airlines flight attendant, and director of marketing for WebSAP.net. The Pittsburgh-based web design and development company was founded by her husband, Michael Wheatley, who also developed the fortpittblockhouse.com website.

A Legacy at the Point

She is also president of the Fort Pitt Society, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which has owned and operated the Fort Pitt Block House as a historical treasure in Point State Park for the last 118 years. Wheatley previously served as the organization's publicity director.

Wheatley was born into a DAR family. Seventeen of her ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. The 1989 Baldwin High School graduate speaks with pride of the Block House, built in 1764 as a defensive redoubt for Fort Pitt, a key British fortification during the French and Indian War. It is all that survives of Fort Pitt.

"This is the oldest authenticated structure in Western Pennsylvania and part of the National Historic Landmark of the Forks of the Ohio," says Wheatley.

Celebrating the Block House

Events are planned throughout 2014 to commemorate the Block House's 250th anniversary. On April 14, the Edith Darlington Ammon Garden was dedicated during a ceremony at the Block House. On June 14, at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, a Flag Day event (co-sponsored by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution) will salute student patriotism by honoring area students through art and essays they've written. 

On August 9, the anniversary will be the focus of a Summer Public Garden Party at the Block House, and on Sept. 11 a gala anniversary celebration at the Wyndham Grand Hotel will feature an address by former First Daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower. The Fort Pitt Society is also planning a time capsule dedication at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Wheatley proudly points out that the Fort Pitt museum employs a full-time curator and that record crowds visited the Block House in 2013, thanks in part to the popular Rubber Duck art installation that floated in the nearby Allegheny River last fall.

Point Park Proud

She credits Point Park University and its talented professors for giving her a strong foundation in journalism and communications, which helped her maximize opportunities to promote Pittsburgh's rich history and beloved Block House. Wheatley hopes Point Park students will participate in internship opportunities at the Block House.

"The professors nurture you. I am thrilled with my degree from Point Park," says Wheatley, who also minored in foreign language. She visited Paris with other students and Professor Channa Newman, Ph.D. "Dr. Newman knew every nook and cranny of Paris," she says.

"I wanted to travel the world and come back to Pittsburgh to work in advertising. I met my husband, an Englishman from London, through a friend. We dated for six weeks, got engaged and married a year later,” recalls Wheatley. “We've been married for 17 years and have three children (Catherine, 15; Amelia, 10; and Andrew, 6)."

Read more about events related to the 250th anniversary of the Fort Pitt Block House.

Text by Melissa Williams Schofield.
Photo by Martha Rial.
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University.