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Downtown Clarksburg Walking Tour
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The Nathan Goff Jr. House was built from 1880 until completion in 1883, and belonged to a prominent figure in Clarksburg, and the state of West Virginia. Goff was the United States District Attorney for West Virginia from 1868 to 1883, and was the son of Waldo Goff, the owner of Waldomore. Nathan Goff Jr. was also responsible for creating the Waldo hotel, named after his father. The Goff home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, but was delisted in 1994 after the home was demolished in 1993.

  • The Goff House.
  • The house was demolished in 1993.
  • Nathan Goff Jr. was responsible for developing architecture in Downtown Clarksburg.
  • The site of the house today.
  • Interior of the house.
  • Interior of the house.

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.

Goff’s family home was located on West Main Street, and purchased property on the same street in 1880 with intent of building a new home. Sloan and Balderson, architects from Philadelphia who had also designed the Odd Fellows Building in Clarksburg designed Goff’s new home according to his instructions. The house was built with local materials, however building materials such as a furnace and bathroom equipment were outsourced due to them being unavailable in the area. The original cost of the house, completed in 1883, was $10,000. The first floor comprised of a large drawing room, a library, an office, a dining room, and a kitchen. The second floor contained four large bedrooms and two bathrooms. One of the four bedrooms was deemed the McKinley Room since President McKinley, whose wife attended finishing school with Laura Goff, stayed there on occasion. The attic of the house were servants’ quarters, and also housed the water tank. The house was completed and surrounded by a cast-iron fence.

After Laura’s death in October of 1918, Goff divided his time between Clarksburg, Washington D.C., and New York City. While on a trip to Lake Placid Goff was injured and suffered a partial paralysis, but healed within two months. While recovering in his home, Goff’s son and a nurse, Katherine Penney, stayed to care for him. Goff and Penney wed in Brooklyn in August, the same month that he recovered. After Goff’s death in 1920, his estate was divided among his wife and two sons. The Nathan Goff Jr. home symbolized the wealth and power of one of Clarksburg’s most important citizens.

Leroy, Pauline G.. Clarksburg: A Bicentennial Album 1785-1985. Clarksburg, WV. Clarksburg Bicentennial Committee, 1986.