Nathan Goff Jr. was an attorney turned real estate mogul in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Goff belonged to a prominent family in the city, and is responsible for the majority of Clarksburg’s architecture. The Goff Building was constructed from 1910 to 1911, and was built with the intent to hold nine floors of office space for local businesses. Today the Goff Building has been well preserved and is still available for office space.
Major Nathan Goff Jr. was the third child of Waldo P.
Goff and Harriet Louise Moore Goff, and was discharged from the United States
military in September of 1864. Goff then attended law school at Cooper
Institute in October of 1864, however he left in December the same year without
graduating. After applying, the Circuit Court of Harrison County approved
Goff’s admission, and Goff started practicing law in Harrison and the adjoining
counties in March on 1865. In his first years of practice, Goff gained clients
and experience thanks to his family’s popularity in the community. On November
7th, 1865, Nathan Goff Jr. married Laura E. Despard, who welcomed their first
child in September of 1866.
Goff joined his father in law’s practice soon after his
marriage to Laura, and attempted to gain public office in August of 1866. The
Harrison County Union Republican convention chose Goff and Solomon S. Fleming
as candidates for the West Virginia House of Delegates. Goff, along with the
rest of the Union ticket, won on October 25, 1866, and was in Wheeling for the
opening of the legislature on January 15, 1867; Goff was the youngest delegate
in attendance. Goff was appointed to as the United States District Attorney for
West Virginia by President Andrew Johnson in November of 1868, and was
reappointed in 1872, 1876, and 1880, while still managing his private law firm
and investments in Clarksburg. Goff was partly responsible for the formation of
the Clarksburg Gas and Electric Company, which supplied the city with electricity
for nearly 30 years.
In 1907, Goff decided to replace a modern brick office
building he had erected in 1891 on the corner of West Main and Courts Streets. Inspired
by South Carolina architecture, he hired architect Frank P. Milburn to design
the new building in 1908. Milburn practiced architecture in Kentucky, West
Virginia, North Carolina, and was responsible for designing the first steel
frame building in South Carolina. Ground was broken for the Goff Building on
June 28, 1910. Milburn trusted local Clarksburg architects, Elliott and
Winchell, with his plans for the new office building. Elliot and Winchell were
contractors for the Harrison Count jail and sheriff’s residence, the Empire
Building, two schools, and V.L. Highland’s residence in Clarksburg, as well as
other structures in larger cities in West Virginia.
The Goff Building was reinforced with steel frame fireproof
construction and concrete floors. The first floor was built to house a bank,
while the remaining stories held 193 offices collectively. Two high-speed
electric passenger elevators were installed, as well as a bronze mail chute
that ran the entire height of the building. The bank was adorned in marble and
bronze, as well as fireproof vaults. The building was heated with an overhead
direct steam system that used natural gas for fuel. The Goff Building was
handed over to the owners in January of 1911, and tenants started moving in the
next month. Some of the building’s first tenants include: Farmers Bank,
Williams-Coffman Hardware Co., Bane and Bond, and Hayman Greenhouse Co.