Elizabeth, West Virginia
This short walking tour offers a window into the history of Elizabeth with stops at the County Courthouse, the Kanawha Hotel, and some of the town's important buildings and businesses that have been lost to time.
The Roberts Store, built in 1886, was a prominent part of Elizabeth before it burned down in 2006. Now that there is no longer Roberts Store on the corner of the main intersection in Elizabeth, part of the town seems empty. The store was built in 1886 and was owned by the Roberts family for its entirety as a store. Today the spot still stands empty as the town continues to mourn Roberts Store.
Wirt County, currently known as the least populous county in the state of West Virginia, at one time was home to many towns and the 1861 Oil Boom in Burning Springs. This area was formed by two surrounding counties, Wood and Jackson counties, and was named in honor of the famous author and lawyer William Wirt of Virginia. The center of the county is the town of Elizabeth, named after one of the first settlers in the area, William Beauchamp. Time has taken a toll on the once-thriving county since the cessation of river boats and the institution of paved roads.
The Wirt County Courthouse has been an icon the people of Wirt County since its construction in 1911. When built, a full-functioning jail was also built behind the courthouse and it held Wirt County prisoners until the late 1990’s. Prior to the current courthouse, there stood a brick courthouse built in 1848 which burned to the ground in 1909. Being such an important part of Wirt County’s history, today the courthouse holds the offices of elected county officials and the Wirt County Courtroom and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
The Beauchamp family history saturates the small town of Elizabeth in Wirt County, West Virginia. This historic home-turned-museum is the oldest and one of the most prolific in Elizabeth. It was built in 1840 by Alfred Beauchamp, grandson of Wirt County's first settler, William Beauchamp. The settled territory became known as Beauchamp's Mill, until it was renamed in honor of Alfred's wife Elizabeth Burns. The home would become the most influential building in Wirt County's early history, as it became the meeting house for the first county administrative court when Wirt County was established on January 19, 1848. The Virginia General Assembly would bestow this on Beauchamp in a bill that formerly established and delineated Wirt Country from Jackson and Wood County. This became a reality, when on May 23, 1848, the first county court session convened. In addition, the house became the location for the first circuit court session on April 4, 1848, led by Judge David McComas. That same day Arthur I. Boreman, future first governor of West Virginia, was granted permission to practice law in the commonality when the the first bar was established during this meeting. Today the Daughters of American Pioneers manage the home as a museum open to the public.
The Kanawha Hotel is the oldest building in Elizabeth, West Virginia and functioned as a hotel for over one hundred years. Built in 1800, this hotel serviced a variety of people, such as hunters, judges, salesmen, oil field workers, and tourists. The hotel was passed down through different owners and underwent several renovations. Various conventions were held here including the 1894 Republican Senatorial Convention. Today the house is open for tours and is on the National Register of Historic Places.