Charleston, West Virginia has a wealth of spectacular examples of early 20th century architecture. Thanks to the revitalization efforts of the city government, the rich history of these grand buildings are honored. Residents and tourists are treated to a taste of West Virginia’s early days each time they walk through Charleston’s streets. Most of these buildings have already been included in the National Register of Historic Places.
First in the list is the West Virginia Capitol Building, found at the capitol complex facing the Kanawha River. Made of buff limestone over a steel frame, the capitol building is capped with a majestic dome almost 300 feet in height. The building has strong Greek and Roman architectural influences, as is the style of its designer, pioneering architect, Cass Gilbert.
One of the most intriguing buildings in Charleston is the Masonic Temple, constructed in 1915 under architect H. Rus Warne. This building on Hale Street has strong Gothic influences, with its pinnacles, pointed arches and window tracery in terra cotta detailing.
The Kanawha County Courthouse is comprised of three stately Romanesque-style buildings, located on the corner of Virginia and Court streets in Charleston. Built in 1892, this incredible structure has been listed at in the National Register of Historic Places since September 6, 1978.
The stately Executive Mansion (Governor’s Mansion) is the residence of the incumbent WV governor and family. Built in 1925, it was designed by Walter F. Martens, who studied and coordinated closely with Architect Cass Gilbert, who designed the West Virginia Capitol Building.
Holly Grove Mansion was originally a plantation with its barns, shops, granary and other outbuildings placed across an open expanse where the West Virginia Capitol and Executive Mansion now stand. Located at Kanawha Boulevard it was the home of Daniel Ruffner, the fifth son of Joseph Ruffner, and the grandson of the first Joseph Ruffner who came into the Kanawha from Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Brothers Joseph and David are the pioneers of the salt industry in the region, under the directive of their father who bough huge tracks of land in West Virginia.
Built in 1834 in the American Greek Revival style, The Craik-Patton House is the home to Rev. James Craik and his family. The house was originally built in a plot of land along the banks of the Kanawha river that Rev. Craik inherited from Dr. James Craik, the personal physician and close friend of George Washington.
The majestic building standing at the corner of Capitol of Fife streets is one of Charleston’s impressive architecture. The Scott Building is built in the Queen Anne Renaissance style, made of pressed bricks and is topped by a conical Victorian turret.
Home of high-class vaudeville entertainment and novel attractions in Charleston back in the day, the Capitol Center Theatre has gone through a lot since the day it was built. Surviving fires, modern technology and financial turmoil, the Capitol Center Theatre continues to stand tall and proud, serving as an educational and cultural facility for the University and the community.
The C&O Rail Depot, a beautifully restored building houses a museum filled with railroading photos and artifacts that is sure to appeal to all train enthusiasts. The depot building, which was constructed in the 1900’s, features tall windows, high ceilings and intricate architecutral details. Adjacent to the train depot was a freight depot, which is now a similar structure built in 1998 by the St. Albans Historical Society. In the same year, the C&O Depot was added to the the National Register of Historic Places.