High Gate mansion, located in Fairmont, West Virginia, is the historical home of coal operator James E. Watson, son of the “father of the West Virginia coal industry,” James O. Watson. The home, built in 1910, encompasses over a block of land and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
High Gate mansion was designed by Philadelphia architect
Horace Trumbauer, who also designed the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston and the
Philadelphia Museum of Art. The mansion is an example of “Jacobethan,” or Tudor
revival architecture, a style known for its use of half-timbering. This style
was popular in Philadelphia and in the suburbs of New York at the time, but is
not often found in West Virginia. High Gate is one of the best examples of the
Tudor revival style still existing in the state today.
When James E. Watson died in 1926, High Gate was purchased by
the Sisters of St. Joseph who would use the mansion as a rest home and later as
a kindergarten for local Fairmont children. High Gate then began to house the
Ross Funeral Home, with the carriage house becoming a nursing home. The Ross
Funeral Home still exists at the mansion today, but the nursing home has been
closed. A partnership between the Friends of High Gate and the Vandalia
Heritage Foundation, an organization which promotes historic preservation in
northern West Virginia, restored the carriage house in 1993. The High Gate Carriage
House is now a venue for business meetings, weddings, and other events in the
historic home. High Gate symbolizes the wealth that came from the early West
Virginia coal industry and the success of the Watson family. President William
Howard Taft was once entertained at the home.