Charleston C&O Depot
Charleston's historic C&O Depot is currently served by Amtrak's Cardinal line and home to Laury's Restaurant, General Corporation, and the Maier Foundation. The station was originally owned by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and constructed in the early 1900s to replace the original passenger station that had been previously constructed in the late 1800s. In September 2010, the station was acquired by General Corporation, a commercial real estate company based in Charleston. The building also serves as the office of the Maier Foundation, a private charity that supports education in Wst Virginia. The station is located on the south bank of the Kanawha River, opposite downtown Charleston which lies on the north bank. This location provides patrons of Laury’s restaurant, which is located upstairs, with a view of the river and downtown Charleston.
Backstory and Context
The C&O Railway first laid tracks through the Kanawha Valley region in 1873, which greatly expanded industry in West Virginia. Along with the new route for goods to pass through the southern part of West Virginia, the C&O also provided a new passage for tourists and West Virginians. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the C&O provided departure on eight passengers trains daily. The C&O also housed a Freight Depot in Charleston that supplied jobs to 15 handlers and 15 clerks. The C&O Freight Depot welcomed trains carrying wholesale groceries, meats, sugars, merchandise, wood, coal, and bark. As for the original C&O passenger depot, the 1901 Charleston Chronicle was quoted as saying, “The management are ashamed of the old passenger depot and request that it be not illustrated, as it is soon to be replaced by a fine modern structure, in keeping with the excellencies of the road and the advancement of Charleston.”1
Built in 1906, the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Railway depot has served the residents of Charleston for over a century. Much of the station's outdoor space is now covered by the South Side Bridge which allows both vehicular and pedestrian traffic to access the downtown areas. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 as the Chesapeake & Ohio Depot as part of the South Hills Multiple Resource Area. The depot is a two-story, brick and stone structure in the Neo-Classical Revival style. The facade features a shallow pavilion of paired Roman Doric columns facing the Kanawha River. It also has a low hipped, tile-covered roof with bracketed deep eaves.
The Historic C&O Depot is still functioning, as passengers can ride Amtrak's Cardinal line three days a week westbound to Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago, and eastbound to Washington and New York. Although rail service has declined in the U.S. since the late 20th century, passengers continue to use the depot today. C&O Depot also houses Laury's restaurant. Since 1979, Laury's has been one of the premier fine dining establishments in Charleston and is known for its views of downtown Charleston and the Kanawha River.
Rice, Otis K.. Charleston and the Kanawha Valley. Windsor Publications, Inc, 1981.
Morgan, John G.. Charleston 175. Charleston, WV. The Charleston Gazette, 1970.
History of the C&O Railway. Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society. Accessed February 26, 2017. http://cohs.org/history/.
Ratcliffe, Georzetta. NRHP Nomination Form. Accessed February 26, 2017. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/kanawha/84000782.pdf.