West Virginia State Capitol

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
West Virginia State Capitol
West Virginia State Capitol Building.jpg
West Virginia State Capitol
West Virginia State Capitol is located in West Virginia
West Virginia State Capitol
Location 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East,
Charleston, West Virginia
Coordinates 38°20′10″N 81°36′43″W / 38.33611°N 81.61194°W / 38.33611; -81.61194Coordinates: 38°20′10″N 81°36′43″W / 38.33611°N 81.61194°W / 38.33611; -81.61194
Built 1925
Architect Cass Gilbert
Architectural style Colonial Revival,
Italian Renaissance
Governing body State
Part of West Virginia Capitol Complex (#74002009[1])
Added to NRHP December 31, 1974

The West Virginia State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of West Virginia, and houses the West Virginia Legislature and the office of the Governor of West Virginia. Located in Charleston, West Virginia, the building was dedicated in 1932. Along with the West Virginia Executive Mansion it is part of the West Virginia Capitol Complex, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Prior to the American Civil War, the counties that would ultimately form West Virginia were a part of the state of Virginia; the state capitol was in Richmond, Virginia. After Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the northwest counties of Virginia loyal to the United States started the process which would ultimately create the State of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.

Settling on a state capital location, however, proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheeling and Charleston. In 1877, however, the state's citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston was chosen and, eight years later, the first capitol building was opened. After a fire in 1921, a hastily-built structure was opened but it too burned down in 1927. Two people were killed in that fire and a memorial was built in memory of the victims. [clarification needed]

A Capitol Building Commission, created by the Legislature in 1921, authorized construction of the present capitol. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the buff limestone structure that was to have a final cost of just under $10 million. After the three stages of construction were completed, Governor William G. Conley dedicated the capitol on June 20, 1932.[2]

Gilbert liked his design of the West Virginia chamber's interior so well that he reused part of the design for the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. chamber is a larger version of the one found in the West Virginia Capitol's East Wing.

Description of the capitol plaza[edit]

The capitol from across the Kanawha River
A celebration at the capital, 1973

The front of the building faces the Kanawha River, and the entire capitol plaza is bordered by Kanawha Boulevard East (also known as U.S. Route 60 and the Midland Trail), Greenbrier Street (also a part of Route 60 and West Virginia Route 114, where the latter terminates), California Avenue and Piedmont Road. Formerly, Washington Street passed through the plaza, but was closed off for pedestrian use. Beside the main capitol, there are two wings which lie perpendicular to the east and west ends of the building, forming an open-ended quadrangle centered on a fountain, one of three in the plaza. The two wings are connected by low causeways on the basement level. The Governor's mansion, and buildings housing a cultural center as well as several state departments and a parking garage, all occupy the area of the plaza, with several other state departments lying east of California Avenue.

The grounds include several statues, including Abraham Lincoln on the front plaza and Stonewall Jackson, a native of the state, near the southeast corner of the plaza. The Lincoln statue depicts the President, who was in office at the time of the state's incorporation, walking at midnight, head bowed, wearing a robe over his clothes, and is located in front of the main entrance of the building, facing the river. There are also two large fountains on the grounds, in the quadrangle just behind the rear entrance of the main building and one to the northwest, between the cultural center and the Division of Motor Vehicles building, just east of the Washington Street entrance to the plaza. Also at the complex are the historic Holly Grove Mansion and the West Virginia Governor's Mansion.

Across from the Capitol complex, between Kanawha Boulevard East and the Kanawha River, lies a plaza around the Zero Mile Marker, by which all highway measurements in the state are based.[citation needed] The plaza also includes flagpoles with the American flag and the West Virginia flag. The plaza also includes staircases down to the banks of the river.

At a height of 292 feet (89 m), the State Capitol is the tallest building in West Virginia.

Tours of the Capitol are arranged through the West Virginia Culture Center.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ James E. Harding (April 11, 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: West Virginia Capitol Complex / West Virginia State Capitol, West Virginia Executive Mansion" (PDF). West Virginia Capitol Complex. State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 

External links[edit]