Wood County Courthouse
The Wood County Courthouse in Parkersburg, WV was constructed in 1899 by local contractors Caldwell & Drake, according to the plans of architect L. W. Thomas of Canton, Ohio. The five-story building cost $100,000 to construct and took two years to complete. The courthouse is considered to be a perfect example of the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The 1899 courthouse is Wood County’s fifth courthouse and the third to be placed on Courthouse Hill.
Backstory and Context
Since its establishment as a county in 1789, Wood County, WV has had no less than five courthouses. The first building to act as a courthouse was the log cabin home of County Justice Hugh Phelps. In 1800, the second and first official county courthouse was constructed of walnut logs and situated near the mouth of the Little Kanawha River. This building functioned as a courthouse until 1817 when Wood County erected its third courthouse in Parkersburg. The architectural style of this courthouse was more indicative of its government purpose compared to a log structure, though no image of it exists. The site of the third and all future courthouses has ever since been known as Courthouse Hill. Constructed in a Greek Revival architectural style and completed in 1860, the county’s fourth courthouse cost $25,000 to build. During the Civil War, Federal troops used this building as a headquarters and a hospital.
In 1899 construction of the fifth and current Wood County Courthouse began. Local contractors Caldwell & Drake oversaw the construction of the courthouse according to the plans of architect L. W. Thomas of Canton, Ohio. The five-story courthouse took two years complete at the cost of $100,00, and is considered to be a perfect example of the Romanesque Revival architectural style. Due to the large amounts of iron, steel, and native sandstone used in the construction of the building, local lore says that the courthouse is fireproof.
During the mid-twentieth-century, the Wood County Courthouse fell into disrepair and faced the threat of demolition in the early-1980s. An organization of concerned residents saved the courthouse from the wrecking ball; and between 1983-1984, the courthouse underwent a major renovation at the cost of $1.5 million.
The Wood County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 for its architectural significance.
Tucker, Gary J. National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form. West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. August 29, 1979. September 18, 2018. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/wood/79002606.pdf.
About. Wood County Courthouse. September 18, 2018. https://woodcountywv.com/history.html.