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West Virginia State Capitol Complex

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    “West Virginia State Capitol”

This video shows the detail of the Capitol Dome and Lantern–pause it by clicking in the center of the screen. (0.58/2009/BeautifulWVa)

     “The West Virginia Capitol: A Commemorative History” – WV Legislature’s Office of Reference & Information

wv legislature


“The purpose of this publication is to chronicle and salute the tremendous efforts of all those individuals involved in the planning, construction and maintenance of the West Virginia State Capitol. It is hoped that the ensuing narrative, facts and data, as well as archival pictures and recent photographic work, appropriately detail the construction progress and classic beauty of this monument to the State’s citizenry.

Explore “The West Virginia Capitol: A Commemorative History” Website

OR – Click on each section title below:

    “Floating Capitol” – WV Tourism

“When West Virginia became a state in 1863, the Capitol building was at the Linsly Institute in Wheeling. In 1870, the State Legislature designated Charleston as the Capital city. Citizens of Kanawha County provided a packet, Mountain Boy, to move all state records and properties down the Ohio River and up the Kanawha River to their new home in Charleston.

“In 1875, the Legislature voted to return the Capital to Wheeling. This was appealed by the citizens of Charleston and finally settled by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on September 13 in favor of Wheeling. However, state officials had boarded the steamers Emma Graham and Chesapeake on May 21 to start their trip to Wheeling. State archives and records did not arrive in Wheeling until late September aboard the Iron Valley steamer. This caused state government to be at a standstill for four months. On December 14, 1876, the city of Wheeling presented West Virginia with a new stone structure costing $120,000.

“The Legislature struck once more in 1877 and ordered an election to be held on August 7 for the citizens of West Virginia to select a permanent location for the Capital. The vote was between Charleston, Martinsburg and Clarksburg. Thirty days after the election, Henry M. Mathews proclaimed that after eight years, Charleston would be the government’s permanent seat. State officials again boarded the Chesapeake in May 1885 to move from Wheeling to Charleston. The steam towboat, Belle Prince, towed the barge, Nick Crewley, with its cargo of state records, papers and library.

“The new Capitol opened on May 1, 1885, and served for 36 years until its destruction by fire on January 3, 1921. Ammunition, bought by the West Virginia State Police two years before, was stored on the top floor of the building. The ammunition had been purchased for use in the coal field disputes which had threatened to erupt into civil war. Supposedly several machine guns and rifles were also stored in the Capitol. The heat from the fire set off the ammunition and sent onlookers running in every direction. Smoke could be seen for miles. While firefighters were fighting the fire, two men mounted one of the fire trucks and took off for a joyride around Charleston. Police chased the men and arrested them.

A cry went out again to move the Capital, with Clarksburg, Parkersburg and Huntington expressing interest. State officials authorized the building of a temporary capitol in Charleston one week after the fire. This building was constructed in 42 working days and lasted for six years. The “Pasteboard Capitol,” as it was known due to its construction of clapboard and wallboard, was destroyed by fire of unknown origin, on March 2, 1927.  Luckily, the Legislature had authorized the construction of the present Capitol on the north bank of the Kanawha River in 1921. This building was completed in 1932 at a cost of $10 million.”

        “A Moving Monument” – Motion Masters


“’A Moving Monument: The West Virginia State Capitol’ tells the story of the six statehouses that have served as West Virginia’s Capitol — an historic journey steeped with beauty, controversy and mystery.”

Explore Motion Masters’ “A Moving Monument” Commercial Website

An excerpt: (3:34/2009/Motion Masters)    (Check your local or school library for the full video.)

    “Capitol Facts” – WV Tourism

ca. 1932, Charleston, West Virginia, USA --- West Virginia State Capital --- Image by © Ethel Davies/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

Architect – Cass Gilbert

Completed – February 1932

Cost – $9,491,180.03

Ground Covered – 16 acres

Floor Space – 535,000 square feet

Outside Walls – over 700 carloads of Buff Indiana limestone

capitol 2


Main Unit – Imperial Danby Vermont Marble

Wings – Tennessee Marble

Floors – White Vermont Marble and Italian Travertine

Chandelier – Czechoslovakian-imported crystal weighing two tons; 15,000 candle power; 179 feet, 9 inches from the floor; 54 foot-long gold chain lowered by hand winch at a set speed, requiring 3 1/2 hours to lower and 4 1/2 hours to return to stationary position. The chandelier is lowered for cleaning every four years upon the inauguration of a new governor or re-election of an incumbent.

    “Capitol Photo Gallery” – WV Legislature’s Office of Reference & Information

wv legislature

“Designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the WV State Capitol sits along the Kanawha River in Charleston.  Gilbert, who also designed the US Supreme Court Building, designed the statehouse to embody both simplicity and beauty.  Completed in 1932, the Capitol sits on 16 acres and is one of the few state capitols to have a gold-leafed dome.”

Explore “Capitol Photo Gallery” Website for photos

    “Capitol Architectural Quirks, Often Unnoticed, Add to Statehouse’s Charm” – WV Legislature Newsletter

wv legislature

wv capitol rosettes

“Once atop the spacious stairways at either the North or South exterior of the Capitol, one can look directly above to observe examples of the ceiling rosettes. The colonnade of these porticos is styled in the classic Roman Corinthian order, and supports a vaulted ceiling that features square coffered panels containing these rosettes, which represent West Virginia hardwoods.”

–Ceiling Rosettes – Front Portico    photo: Martin Valent —

“Beneath the rosettes that adorn the ceilings that lead to the House and Senate chambers, lawmakers, visitors and employees move and hustle through the maze of people that line the 535,000 square feet of halls and floors. The walls stand still, made from the finest marble, and those who walk by barely notice the tiny details translated from architectural design into art. Amidst the blue and red panels of color that contrast from the Rotunda’s center, all find themselves concerned with the legislative process, while the visible architecture and hidden details of the building are lost in the background to the business of the day.”

Read “Capitol Architectural Quirks, Often Unnoticed, Add to Statehouse’s Charm” Article (pdf)

    “WV Senate – Scenes from the Senate Chamber”

“Video of the Chamber of the West Virginia Senate, as well as the Well of the West Virginia Capitol.”    (3:17/2015/wvsenate)

    “The Foundation of Justice: Chamber and History” – West Virginia Judiciary

“This DVD about the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia gives viewers an understanding of the history of the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court Chamber designed by architect Cass Gilbert. It contains historical footage, archival photos, interviews, and detailed shots of the stunning Courtroom in the East Wing of the West Virginia Capitol. It is narrated by Justice Thomas E. McHugh.”

<<This is a two part video – the part here shows the Courtroom and History of the Court.  The other part is on the “Research Resources” page and deals with the WV Court System.>>

(17:39/2016/West Virginia Judiciary)

     “More Photos and Info about The West Virginia State Capitol”

Includes descriptions and multiple photos of: Early Capitol Locations; History of the Capitol; “Capitol Faces;” Dome, Lantern, Staff and Eagle; Chandeliers; Floor Plans; Legislative Chambers; Governor’s Reception Room and Office; and Supreme Court of Appeals Courtroom.  

Explore MH3WV’s “More Photos and Info about The West Virginia State Capitol” (pdf)


         “X350Pro West Virginia State Capitol (Complex)”

A camera-equipped drone provides aerial views of the Capitol and its campus. (3:11/2014/DavidGroves)

    “WV Capitol Complex Walking Tour and Visitor Information” – WV Culture and History



A scan of the Brochure.

Explore WV Culture and History’s “WV Capitol Complex Walking Tour and Visitor Information” Brochure – pdf

    “West Virginia State Capitol Complex Walking Tour”  –  CLIO

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

Explore Clio’s “West Virginia State Capitol Complex Walking Tour” Website

    “West Virginia Executive (Governor’s) Mansion”

wv governor mansion 1 wv governor mansion 2

“The West Virginia Executive Mansion is of red Harvard colonial brick laid in Flemish bond with black headers, and is fronted by a central, two-story portico with a bracketed pediment that is supported by four free standing and two engaged fluted Corinthian columns. The arched entrance way, painted white to complement the brickwork, as is all trim, frames a delicate fanlight above the door . . .”

Continue reading at WV Legislature’s Office of Reference & Information’s “WV Executive (Governor’s) Mansion” Website


        “WV Governor’s Mansion Tour”

Former First Lady Gayle Manchin gives a video tour of the mansion.   (11:32/2010)

For tours of The Culture Center / The West Virginia State Museum call (304) 558-0162 ext 185.
For tours of the West Virginia State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion call (304) 558-4839.

Explore “Capitol Complex Tour” Website

         “West Virginia Veterans Memorial”



“The West Virginia Veterans Memorial is a two-story oval shaped monument honoring more than 10,000 West Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the nation in twentieth century conflicts. Composed of four limestone monoliths surrounded by a reflecting pool, the interior walls are faced in polished black granite etched with the names of these men and women. The Memorial was designed by P. Joseph Mullins, who also sculpted the four figures representing the four major twentieth century conflicts and the four major branches of military service.”

Explore “West Virginia Veterans Memorial” Website


         “The Inspiration Behind West Virginia’s Veterans’ Memorial”

“In this segment, Charleston artist Joe Mullins tells the story of West Virginia’s Veterans’ Memorial. This story first aired Nov. 7, 2002 on the program “Outlook.” It was rebroadcast May 24, 2007. Rob Rhodes is the producer.”      (6:48/2007/WV Public Broadcasting)

    “The Culture Center” – West Virginia Culture and History


culture center greathall“The Culture Center, a contemporary though complementary companion to the State Capitol, opened in 1976 to showcase West Virginia’s artistic, cultural and historic heritage. The lower level of the WV State Museum recently re-opened after a complete renovation. You can also view the art and history exhibits in the Lobby and the Balcony Galleries; browse the State Archives library, or join in one of the dozen exciting festivals and events held throughout the year.  The Culture Center houses the offices of the Commission on the Arts and the State Historic Preservation Office, as well as the State Museum, State Archives and other administrative staff.”

Explore WV Culture and History’s “The Culture Center” Website

         “WV Division of Culture and History” – WV Department of Arts, Culture, and History

west-virginia-division-of-culture“The mission of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History is to identify, preserve, protect, promote and present the ideas, arts and artifacts of West Virginia’s heritage, building pride in our past accomplishments and confidence in our future.

“The Division’s main offices are in the Culture Center at the State Capitol in Charleston.”

The Division includes the State Archives and History, WV State Museums, West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the State Historic Preservation Office.

Explore WV Dept.of Education and the Arts’ “WV Division of Culture and History” Website

        “Museum Section” – WV Culture and History


“The museum section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History oversees and operates six historic sites and museums (West Virginia State Museum/Culture Center, Camp Washington-Carver, Museum in the Park, West Virginia Independence Hall Museum, Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex) including the West Virginia State Museum Collection and the West Virginia Archeological Collection.”

Explore WV Culture and History’s “Museum Section” Website

<<Additional information on the WV State Museum at the Culture Center is below.  Information on Camp Washington-Carver, Museum in the Park, WV Independence Hall Museum, and Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex is on the “Museums” page.>>

            “The West Virginia State Museum at The Culture Center” – WV Culture and History


“The West Virginia State Museum is dedicated to inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of the public by instilling a deeper understanding and sense of pride through the collection, preservation and exhibition of diverse cultural and historic traditions, focusing on every aspect of West Virginia history, culture, art, paleontology, archaeology and geology from all geographic regions – representing the people, land and industries.”

Explore “The WV State Museum at The Culture Center” Website

               “An Introduction to the WV State Museum” – WV Archives and History

“The West Virginia State Museum features a central show path, 26 discovery rooms and two connection rooms. We are located on the lower level of the Culture Center on the West Virginia State Capitol grounds.”

(3:36/2013/WV Archives and History)

               “WV State Museum Reopens after Renovation” – WV Public Broadcasting

“The West Virginia State Museum in Charleston has a new look. Reading every sign and watching every movie could take up to 26 hours. We take you on a tour of some of the highlights.”     (5:37/2009/WV Public Broadcasting)

               “Detailed Map of West Virginia State Museum” – WV Culture and History

wv state museum floor

Explore an interactive map (similar to the above) which allows you to view a Discovery Room by clicking on the room’s number.


For tours of The Culture Center / The West Virginia State Museum call (304) 558-0162 ext 185.

For tours of the West Virginia State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion call (304) 558-4839.

Explore “Capitol Complex Tours” Website

      “More Photos and Info about The West Virginia State Capitol Complex”

Includes descriptions and multiple photos of:  Holly Grove Mansion, Governor’s Mansion, Statues and Memorials (including Veterans and Female Veterans Memorials), and Culture Center.

Explore MH3WV’s “More Photos and Info about The West Virginia State Capitol Complex” (pdf)

West Virginia State Capitol Complex    West Virginia Culture Center   West Virginia Governors Mansion

  West Virginia Veterans Memorial