West Virginia State Capitol Complex Walking Tour

This walking tour gives detailed explanations to each building and monument on the West Virginia State Capitol Complex.

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Culture Center: West Virginia State Museum and Archives and History Library
The Culture Center is home to the West Virginia State Museum which offers a variety of programs and exhibits that preserve and share the culture and history of the Mountain State and its people. The complex is also home to the state's Archives and History Library, the state historic preservation office, and offices of the West Virginia Library Commission. The complex also holds the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater which hosts Mountain Stage and other cultural and educational events throughout the year.
West Virginia State Capitol
The current West Virginia State Capitol was constructed from 1924 to 1932 and is the tallest building in the state. Wheeling served as the first capital city of the new state of West Virginia when it separated from Virginia during the Civil War. The transfer of the capital to Charleston in 1870 reflected the growing population of the western portions of the state and a shift in political power during the Reconstruction period. The change was not permanent at first, and the records and other items of the fledgling state government were transferred back and forth from Charleston and Wheeling via steamboat along the Ohio River and the Kanawha River a total of three times. The capital was moved from Wheeling to Charleston in 1870, from Charleston to Wheeling in 1875, and finally back to Charleston in 1885 when the state capital was permanently established in Charleston. The original structure that served as the capitol building in Charleston in the 1870s was razed to make way for a more prominent structure in hopes of convincing West Virginia voters to make Charleston their choice for the state’s capital. That state capitol building was located in downtown Charleston and construction began in 1880 when Wheeling once again served as the capital. The building was complete in 1885 when the government returned to Charleston. That capitol building caught fire in 1921 and was quickly replaced by a wood frame structure that served as temporary quarters for the government while architect Cass Gilbert’s design for the new capitol complex along the Kanawha River was coming to life. In addition to this building, Cass Gilbert is best-known for designing the Woolworth Building in New York, the George Washington Bridge, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
Holly Grove Mansion - Ruffner Mansion
Holly Grove Mansion, also known as the Ruffner Mansion, is the oldest home in the city of Charleston, WV. The home was built in 1815 by Daniel Ruffner, brother of David Ruffner, Joseph Ruffner Jr., and Tobias Ruffner, (sons of Joseph Ruffner Sr.) who were largely instrumental in developing a thriving salt industry to the Kanawha Valley in the early 1800s. The Ruffner Mansion served as the home for the family who helped develop the Kanawha Valley while also being a center of industry and commerce during the early 19th Century. Holly Grove Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and now sits on the West Virginia State Capitol Complex.
West Virginia Governor's Mansion
The West Virginia Governor's Mansion symbolizes the state's distinguished past and present. The Georgian Revival mansion, completed in 1925 at a cost $200,000, was designed by Walter Martens, a Charleston architect who designed several other buildings on Charleston's East End. The Georgian Revival-style home has welcomed national and global dignitaries, ambassadors, public officials, and hosted numerous events to encourage business, support education, and promote the preservation of West Virginia history and culture.
Union Soldier Statue
The statue is a memorial to the Union Soldiers and Sailors from West Virginia who fought in the Civil War. Funded by the State of WV and placed on the Capitol grounds in 1930, it faces Kanawha Blvd. east of the Governor’s Mansion.
Lincoln Walks at Midnight
West Virginia sculptor Fred Torrey designed Lincoln Walks at Midnight in the 1930s based on Vachel Lindsay’s 1914 poem of the same name. The statue represents Lincoln's decision to grant West Virginia statehood during the Civil War.
Stonewall Jackson Statue
On the grounds of the WV State Capitol stands a statue to Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, The artist, Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel, was commissioned by Daughters of the Confederacy to cast the high-plinth bronze sculpture while living in Rome. Ezekiel was a former Confederate soldier and VMI graduate.
Mountaineer Soldier Statue
In response to the dedication of a statue honoring Clarksburg, West Virginia native and Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at the old State Capitol in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, veterans of the Union Army received an equivalent statue sculpted by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown in 1912. The bronze statue depicts a pro-Union citizen militiaman carrying a flag and musket, while the two reliefs on the base depict Mountaineer home life.
Liberty Bell Replica
This replica of Philadelphia's famed Liberty Bell was cast in 1950 and designed to match the same weight, size, and tone of the original. The replica was one of fifty-five that were ordered by the federal government as part of a savings bond drive and distributed to state and territorial governments. Following a celebratory tour around the state, this replica bell has been located in Charleston's Capitol Complex directly at the front of the courtyard opposite the Kanawha Boulevard side of the Capitol. The bell can be visited alongside many other monuments at the Capitol Complex.
Booker T. Washington Memorial, West Virginia State Capitol
This memorial on the grounds of the West Virginia State Capital grounds pays tribute to Booker T. Washington, one of the most influential educators in American history. Washington was born into bondage just prior to the end of slavery and later moved to West Virginia with his father who worked in the salt mines around Malden, a small community near Charleston. Washington accompanied his father into the mines where he also labored as a young child. Upon learning of a nearby school, young Washington secured a deal with his father whereby he could work mornings and nights and attend school in the daytime. This ambition and thirst for knowledge became the hallmarks of Washington's life.
WV Coal Miners Memorial
The WV Coal Miners Memorial is located on the grounds of the West Virginia State Capitol Complex in Charleston, West Virginia. It was designed by Burl Jones in 2002 to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to mining coal in West Virginia.
West Virginia Female Veterans' Memorial
Located at the State Capitol Complex, this statue is the first memorial to honor West Virginia’s female soldiers. It is also the only sculpture on the Capitol grounds depicting a woman. The work was sculpted by artist Joe Mullins to represent a female veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, yet her attire does not represent any particular branch of the service. The statue is symbolic of the sacrifices and commitment of all the women who have served in the US Armed Forces.
WV Veterans Memorial
The West Virgina Veterans Memorial was designed by P. Joseph Mullins, and constructed from 1990-1999 to honor the lives of over 10,000 West Virginian soldiers who passed away during the 20th century. The memorial itself is a section of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.

This tour was created by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia User on 03/13/17 .

This tour has been taken 534 times within the past year.

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