West Virginia State Capitol Complex – MH3WV

West Virginia Studies


West Virginia State Capitol Building and 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)

    “Charleston Capitol Dome”

“Capitol Dome, Charleston WV.”      (1:28/2017/Jay Szewczyk)

    “The West Virginia State Capitol”

This video includes views of both the exterior and interior of the West Virginia State Capitol.  (2:40/2012 / ergonsss)

    “The West Virginia Capitol: A Commemorative History”

west virginia history

wv state capitol“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 West Virginia Legislature’s “The West Virginia Capitol: A Commemorative History” Website

OR – Click on each section title below:

Explore West Virginia Legislature’s 1982 “The West Virginia Capitol: A Commemorative History” (pdf)

Explore “West Virginia Capitol Brochure – History – Facts – Mansion – Museum” (late 1950s) (pdf)

    “Floating Capitol” – West Virginia Tourism

wv civil war“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.

west virginia state capitol complex“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 Century Ago, the West Virginia State Capitol Burned”

West VirginiaJanuary 3, 2021  

“Charleston’s first workday of the new year was shaping up to be pleasant, if uneventful, 100 years ago today, as mild temperatures and an absence of rain lured crowds of post-holiday bargain hunters and office workers to errands in the capitol city’s downtown district. . . “

Explore screenshots from Charleston Gazette-Mail’s “A Century Ago, the West Virginia State Capitol Burned” article to continue reading

    “A Moving Monument: The West Virginia State Capitol”

WEST VIRGINIA STATE CAPITOLa-moving-monument“’A Moving Monument: The West Virginia State Capitol’ tells the story of the six statehouses that have served as West Virginia’s Capitol — a historic journey steeped with beauty, controversy and mystery.   This documentary provides viewers with the opportunity to trace the establishment and movement of the WV State Capitol over time.”

Explore the entire documentary “A Moving Monument: The West Virginia State Capitol” on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “PBS Learning Media” Website

An excerpt:  (3:34/2009/Motion Masters)

    “Capitol Facts” – West Virginia Tourism


  • 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 2Interior:

  • 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.


    “WV State Capitol History Mini Doc WVPBS ca 2013”

“WV State Capitol History, a mini documentary by WVPBS, ca 2013”     (5:26/2022/wvarchivesandhistory)

    “West Virginia Capitol Tour Guide” 

“West Virginia Capitol tour guide [Mary Ann Long] talks about her job.”  (2:07/2017/Janet Kunicki)

    “WV Capitol Walkthrough”

WV Capitol Walkthrough, using a Kodak SP360 camera.   (7:09/2016/deseilrob)  (360 degree – you can rotate, pan, and zoom.)

For tours of The Culture Center / The West Virginia State Museum call (304) 558-0220.
For tours of the West Virginia State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion call (304) 558-4839.

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

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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  . . .”

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

    “Capitol Photo Gallery”

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“Designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the West Virginia 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 West Virginia Legislature’s “Capitol Photo Gallery” Website for photos – 28 photos of the Building and the Complex

“West Virginia State Capitol Exterior Photos”

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“The 293-foot gold dome atop the capitol is five feet higher than the dome of the United States Capitol. The dome is covered in copper, and covered with gold leaf. The dome was originally gilded by Mack, Jenney and Tyler Company in 1931. The dome was restored to the original plans of Cass Gilbert in 2005, which included the reconstruction of the eagle at the top of a 25-foot bronze spire built on a 34 and a half-foot lantern.”

“On October 14, 2005, a full year ahead of schedule, the new gilding on the capitol dome was unveiled. The dome now has gold-framed panels with gilt bas-relief as originally intended by the designer. Dark gray paint is the highlighting background for the gilded designs: an eagle,  a pair of American flags flanking an aegis (a shield from Greek mythology), and other symbols.

“This is the first time the West Virginia state capitol building dome has been finished exactly the way it was supposed to be. The original design of the dome was based on the building in Paris that houses Napoleon’s tomb, the Hotel National des Invalides. That dome is partially gilded, and its lantern is completely gilded. Like Les Invalides, the original capitol dome was finished with gold leaf and a gray (lead-colored) field.

“Many of our state capitols have domes, and several of them are gilded, as is West Virginia’s. Many also have cupolas, or lanterns, on top of the domes. This is the only one with a lantern that is completely gilded.”

Explore Tigerleaf’s “State Capitols – Telling Them Apart – It’s on the Dome” Webpage – scroll to bottom of page for West Virginia’s Capitol

West Virginia history     Feb 18, 2018       [Excerpt]

“Contractor W.Q. Watters builds on a history of painting West Virginia”         By Max Garland Staff writer 

“It’s almost impossible for a West Virginian to go without seeing painting contractor W.Q. Watters Company’s mark of influence in the state.

“If you have seen the state Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, The Greenbrier resort, the Charleston Civic Center or a hefty portion of the bridges in the state, you have witnessed buildings and structures the Charleston contractor, now owned by Bob Thaxton, carefully painted at some point in its storied history.

“And W.Q. Watters isn’t finished. It’s preparing to paint the state Capitol’s interior and exterior again later this year. The work will be done in phases, with the painters starting with the iconic dome outside and working their way inside to paint the House of Delegates and Senate chambers.

“Thaxton said of previous jobs painting the Capitol. “It’s all historical.”

wv state capitol“The color adorning the Capitol dome is made up of gold leaf sheets applied in small squares. At his office in the contractor’s location on Kanawha State Forest Drive, Thaxton showed off one of these gold leaf sheets, noting that it’s “thinner than cigarette paper” and just as light.  “This here is real gold,” he said. “In order to put this stuff down, you clean the surface all up, and you put an adhesive on it. You have to brush [the surface] to generate electricity.”

“When the gold leaf sheet touches the surface, “It’s done,” he said. Then the next sheet is applied, and so on, all fitting together like a puzzle on the Capitol dome or elsewhere.” 

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Two biblical inscriptions are carved in stone tablets on the north and south bases of the Capitol dome.  On the north side: “Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore, get wisdom. And with all of thy getting, get understanding.”  On the south side: “Happy is the man that findth wisdom and getteth understanding.” “

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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.”

    “Carved Faces”

“Twelve carved mythological figures look out from the keystone position over the arched entrances into the Capitol Building. Note the details that distinguish these figures from each other. The artist also designed the bronze doors at the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC, in collaboration with his son John Donnelly, Jr.”

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“West Virginia State Capitol Interior Photos”

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“Two-hundred train carloads of marble were needed to construct the interior of the Capitol building. Moreover, the two support columns in front of both the House and Senate weigh 34 tons. Ultimately, two-thirds of the Capitol’s interior is composed of seven different types of marble literally priceless. The Statehouse is insured for $200 million.”

“Lining the halls that lead to both the House of Delegates and the Senate are 55 column lights, representing each of West Virginia’s 55 counties. These black and gold Belgian marble columns are capped off by translucent alabaster sconces emanating a soft and golden glow.”

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“Lighting is an important and expensive feature for both houses and the Rotunda area, as well. Although the ceilings in the House and Senate may differ in style and structure, the chandeliers that dangle from the center of the room are equal in grandiose proportion and price. Together, both chandeliers are worth $500,000.”

                                            wv state capitol          wv state capitol

The chandelier in the center of the Rotunda, though, is on a much more grand scale than those lights that hang in both houses. The central light measures in at eight feet in diameter and weighs 4,000 pounds. It takes 96 light bulbs to illuminate the 10,080 Czech Republic Crystals that make up the chandelier. Every four years, the chandelier is lowered for cleaning; then the panels of crystal are
removed and dipped into a warm rinse.”

west virginia state capitol

In his design, Gilbert not only decorated and embellished the walls, floors and Rotunda areas of the Capitol, but he also made sure that the ceilings that lead to the both House chambers were equally as extravagant. Visitors see plaster molded rosettes that appear to be blossoming from the ceiling. These medallions, though, are more than a decoration for the ceiling; they are a reflection of the state’s environment. Carved from plaster, the rosettes are  sculpted to resemble the leaves of three prominent pieces of foliage: Sugar
Maple (the state tree), Magnolia and Red Oak.

West Virginia State Capitol

“The Capitol is a complex building, all of its 333 rooms. In “Trivial Pursuit” fashion, every aspect of its architecture could be the answer to a West Virginia history question. For example, Anna Jarvis’ bust is the only statue of a female on the Statehouse grounds. Moreover, two U.S. Presidents are honored within the Capitol Grounds: Abraham Lincoln is featured in a statue that faces the Kanawha River, and a plaque in the stairwell that leads to the Capitol basement features an excerpt from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.”

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The friezes just below the ceilings of the Rotunda and Legislative Foyers have a repeating pattern of five carved symbols; an owl perched on a book in front of a man’s profile representing art and education; a bull with ears of corn framing its face representing
agriculture; a round shield, peace pipe and tomahawk representing Native American lore; scales representing peace and justice; and the six sided shield with pickaxes representing mining and industry.”

  West Virginia State Capitol      



             West Virginia State Capitol       wv capitol chandelier

    “Rainbows in the Rotunda”

“The chandelier in the rotunda of the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, WV consists of 10,080 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal, each of which acts as a prism when the sun hits it perfectly. These prisms cast small rainbows onto the floor of the upper rotunda, and if you position yourself within one of the rainbows, you can watch the different wavelengths (colors) of light as the rainbow spot moves across your eye (lens). I tried to capture it on video while between stories. Video is played back at 2X speed in order to shorten the length of the video.”   (1:53/2017/ShortysTRM)

    “Rotunda Chandelier Time Lapse”

“Time lapse video of West Virginia State Capitol’s Rotunda Chandelier being cleaned.”  (0:49/2015/West Virginia Legislature)

       “Iconic Rotunda Chandelier Dismantled for Dome Restoration”

west virginia broadcastingFor more than 85 years, the West Virginia Capitol building has housed the iconic crystal chandelier, illuminating the rotunda for generations of lawmakers and visitors who pass below — its presence a fixture in the statehouse. But now, it’s been taken down.”  (3:35/2018/West Virginia Public Broadcasting)

       “Chandelier Returning to Capitol Rotunda”

June 6, 2021

“Work to reassemble and raise the rotunda chandelier at the West Virginia State Capitol is underway.  The massive lighting [fixture] was removed and transported. . . “

Explore West Virginia MetroNews’ “Chandelier Returning to Capitol Rotunda” article to continue reading and view photo

       “That’s One Giant Disco Ball”

West Virginia GazetteJune 10, 2021

“After more than three years, the 4,000 pound chandelier has returned to. . . “

Explore Charleston Gazette-Mail’s “That’s One Giant Disco Ball” to continue reading and view photo

“Executive Branch – Governor”


“Governor’s Reception Room and Office”

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“Legislative Branch – Senate and House of Delegates”

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                                       wv state capitol                              

“The House of Delegate’s Chamber has Eagles with Folded Wings, a single row of Rosettes and a flat ceiling.”

“The Senate Chamber has Eagles with Open Wings, 2 rows of Rosettes and a domed ceiling.”

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    “West Virginia 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/westvirginiasenate)

    “House Chandelier Time Lapse”

“Time lapse video of West Virginia House of Delegates Chamber Chandelier being cleaned.”  (1:00/2015/WV Legislature)

“Judicial Branch – Supreme Court of Appeals”

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    “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.”  (17:39/2016/West Virginia Judiciary)  

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

    “Supreme Court of Appeals Photo Gallery”

Most of these photos are from the Supreme Court Website’s “Virtual Tour”    [no longer available on the internet]

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“West Virginia State Capitol Main Building Floor Plans”

(Floor plans show office assignments of Legislators from previous years they are not accurate now.)

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    “X350Pro West Virginia State Capitol (Complex)”

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

    “West Virginia Capitol Complex Walking Tour and Visitor Information” Brochure – West Virginia Culture and History


    A scan of the Brochure.  Includes Walking Tours of the West Virginia State Capitol Building and the WV State Capitol Complex.

Explore West Virginia Culture and History’s “West Virginia 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

“Holly Grove Mansion – Ruffner Mansion”

west virginia state capitolwv capitolHolly Grove Mansion, also known as the Ruffner Mansion, is the oldest home in the city of Charleston. The home was built in 1815 by Daniel Ruffner, son of David Ruffner who was largely instrumental in bringing a thriving salt industry to the Kanawha Valley. 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.”

   “Holly Grove mansion’s 200 years bring Ruffner reunion to Charleston”

June 17, 2015

West Virginia history“In 1815, Kanawha County saltmaker Daniel Ruffner completed work on a stately, solid, two-story brick mansion built to replace the log farmhouse his family had occupied since moving here from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in 1795. . .”

Explore Charleston Gazette-Mail’s “Holly Grove mansion’s 200 years bring Ruffner reunion to Charleston” article (pdf)

“West Virginia Executive (Governor’s) Mansion”

wv governor mansion 2wv governor mansion 1“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 West Virginia Legislature’s Office of Reference & Information’s “West Virginia Executive (Governor’s) Mansion” Website

    “West Virginia Governor’s Mansion Tour”

Former First Lady Gayle Manchin gives a video tour of the West Virginia Governor’s Mansion.   (11:32/2010)

“A West Virginia Governors’ Mansion Christmas”   

“A visit to the West Virginia Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, W.Va., dressed for the 2015 holiday season, in a color scheme of red, green and black and white.”    (1:52/Charleston Gazette-Mail/2015) 

For tours of The Culture Center / The West Virginia State Museum call (304) 558-0220.
For tours of the West Virginia State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion call (304) 558-4839.

“Union Soldier”

“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.” 

“The monument has four plaques affixed to its base. One commemorates the dedication of the memorial and contains the names of the members of the Union Soldiers and Sailors Commission who erected the memorial. The second plaque contains the words from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The third plaque commemorates the admission of the State of West Virginia to the Union on June 20, 1863, as follows: ‘The Act of Congress admitting West Virginia as a separate state was approved by President Abraham Lincoln. June 20, 1863.’ The final plaque is inscribed: ‘In Memory of the thirty-two thousand soldiers, sailors and marines, contributed West Virginia to the service of the Union during the Civil War.  1861 – 1865.’ “

“Lincoln Walks at Midnight”

wv history“Fred Torrey was a sculptor from West Virginia known for his monuments and architectural sculpture. He created a model of a contemplative 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, in 1935, known now as “Lincoln Walks at Midnight.” The statue is located in front of the south portico of the West Virginia State Capitol overlooking the Kanawha River.”

“Lincoln Walks at Midnight portrays Abraham Lincoln walking the streets of Springfield, Illinois, during one of his many sleepless nights. In 1974, Charleston artist Bernard Wiepper created a nine-and-a-half foot bronze casting of the original statue. The statue is placed in front of the West Virginia State Capitol to portray Lincoln contemplating the creation of West Virginia as the 35th state in the Union. It was placed facing south so that light would always be on the face.”

“Zero Milestone”

west virginia state capitol“The 37,270 miles of public roads in West Virginia originate from a 48-inch stone pillar that sits on Kanawha Boulevard across from the state Capitol. The monument, known as the zero-milestone, represents the starting point for all the mileage calculated on roads that wind throughout the Mountain State.”

“The marker rests within millimeters of where the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey originally placed it in 1934, said Ray Lewis, a planning and research engineer for the state Division of Highways. The hollow marker has been moved multiple times in the past six decades.”

“Stonewall Jackson”

west virginia state capitolwest virginia state capitolwest virginia state capitol“On the grounds of the West Virginia 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.  The Stonewall Jackson Statue was constructed in 1909 by Moses Ezekiel and was the first statue on the old capitol grounds in downtown Charleston. It moved to its current location after the original Capitol burned in 1921.”

“Mountaineer Soldier”

west virginia state capitol“In response to dedication of a statue honoring Clarksburg native and Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at the old State Capitol in downtown Charleston, WV, veterans of the Union side received an equivalent statue by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown in 1912. The bronze statue depicts a pro-Union citizen militiaman carrying a flag, while the two reliefs on the base depict Mountaineer home life:

west virginia state capitolThe figure stands on a bronze base that is adorned with two reliefs depicting mountaineer home life. The relief on the northwest side depicts a log cabin interior with two women, a man, and a girl. The man is lying in bed and appears to be sick. One woman offers him a cup, while the other woman sits on a chair beside the bed. A girl sits on a bench beside the man’s pillow. There is also a chest of drawers and a basket in the room. The relief on the southeast side of the base depicts the interior of a house with an old man, a woman, and a child. The child sits on a pillow, facing the woman, and holding out a spoon. The woman sits on a low bench, clutching a utensil with both hands into which the child is pouring. Between them is a shallow pot with a handle and legs, which sits over a small fire. Behind the woman is a spinning wheel. The old man has long hair, a beard, and a cane, and sits in a wooden chair. Behind him is a fireplace with an arched opening.

“The Mountaineer Soldier statue was unveiled at the old State Capitol on Capitol Street in downtown Charleston on December 10, 1912. The guiding force for this monument was Col. William Seymour Edwards, speaker of the WV House of Delegates in the 1890s. Edwards personally helped raise funds for the project. The Mountaineer Statue was a symbol of the men of Western Virginia who formed themselves into Home Guards and responded to President Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861. By their actions they helped to save Western Virginia for the Union.

“Liberty Bell Replica”

west virginia state capitolwest virginia state capitol“This replica of the American Liberty Bell is meant to inspire passion for individual freedom, one of the principles on which America won its independence. The bell is displayed on large steel supports with a descriptive plaque on closer inspection.”

“The plaque states several facts about the replica bell. It outlines that the bell was presented to the West Virginian public as part of the United States Savings Bond Independence Drive. For this purpose, it was displayed in every part of the state. Fifty-three of these replica Liberty Bells were cast in France to the exact dimensions and tone of the Liberty Bell itself. To help inspire American pride, the top of the plaque reads, “Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.” “

“Booker T. Washington Memorial”

west virginia stte capitolwest 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.  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.”

“Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856. After the Civil War, his family resettled in West Virginia. He worked his way through his early school years and supported himself during his years at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. After graduation, Washington attended college at Wayland Seminary. In 1881 he was named as the principal of a one-room school in Tuskegee Alabama. Washington labored to turn this school into the Tuskegee Institute and later a fully-accredited university.   A replica of his boyhood cabin may be seen at Malden, a few miles east of Charleston.”

“Spirit of West Virginia”

west virginia state capitolA figure of a woman who appears to be a goddess stands in the center of a relief on a blue background. She wears a two-piece white garment with orange trim. Both of her arms are bent at the elbow and her hands are at shoulder level. In her proper right hand she clutches a cape that hangs behind her and drapes over her left shoulder. She wears an orange helmet and has dark, curly, shoulder-length hair. Gold rays radiate from the top half of her body. She stands in front of a blooming Rhododendron bush and on top of a narrow banner.”

west virginia state capitol“On each side of the central figure are three scenes in a vertical row. To the proper right of the figure are depictions of, from top to bottom: a farm scene with a barn, silo, and trees; a bulldozer and trailer carrying logs and representing the timber industry; and a man with a bull and a cow. To the proper left of the figure are depictions of, from top to bottom: a chemical factory with round tanks and smoke coming out of the smokestacks; a steel factory with large vats collecting melted metal; and a man standing in front of a carload of coal that a mule is harnessed to.”

“DMV Winged Tire”

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The entrance on the east side of Building 3 is topped by another ceramic plaque created by Paul Jennewein. It depicts the winged tire symbol of the Division of Motor Vehicles.  Although other agencies also had offices in the building, it was known to many people as the DMV Building because the agency had its customer service windows on the ground floor.   Photo by Jim Wallace.”

“West Virginia Coal Miners Memorial”

wv state capitolwv state capitol“This memorial, designed by sculptor Burl Jones, features a statue of a coal miner.  It commemorates the hard-working men and women who have toiled in the difficult work of mining coal.  The memorial served as a gathering place during the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in 2010, and continues to be the location where people come to remember the 29 men who lost their lives in that explosion, as well as the countless other sacrifices West Virginia miners have made over the years.”

Compare the miners’ stances in these statues – Charleston on the left – Beckley on th right

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“Fallen Firefighter”

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“Dedicated to West Virginia Firefighters Who Died in the Line of Duty.  Erected by West Virginia Firemen’s Association.”


“Fallen Partner”

wv state capitolwv capitol“This monument is raised to honor all law enforcement officers of West Virginia. Every day, police courageously place themselves, as living shields between the public and danger. We especially honor and commemorate those officers who have suffered injury or death while protecting us from harm, upholding our laws, and preserving the peace of our society. This memorial funded through the West Virginia Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.”

“West Virginia Veterans Memorial”

wv-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.

wv capitol wv capitol “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.”


“The “West Virginia 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 construction of the Memorial took nine years partially because it was originally a privately funded project. In 1994 legislature provided for supplemental funding that greatly increased the speed of construction. It is estimated that the memorial’s total costs are higher than four million dollars.”


“The monument contains four sculptures. These sculptures include a World War One Army doughboy, a World War Two Navy sailor, a Korean Conflict Air Force aviator, and a Vietnam Marine Corps marine.”

wv capitol “In addition to the West Virginia Veterans Memorial, the project also includes a virtual Archives Database that contains information about those 10,000 that honored by the memorial itself. This portion of the project is constantly being updated as new information is discovered about the Veterans.”

wv capitol “This memorial is a two-story monument honoring more than 10,000 West Virginias that made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for our Nation’s freedom. It is for the twentieth century conflicts because it is almost impossible to determine the total number of West Virginians that were in the American Revolution, War
of 1812 and Mexican War with the state still being a part of Virginia at the times these wars were fought. The memorial is made of four limestone monoliths with each of the interior walls faced with polished black granite which has the names of these men and woman that gave their all. This Memorial for the brave men and women that served in West Virginia was dedicated on Veterans Day 1995.”    

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/West Virginia Public Broadcasting)

“West Virginia Female Veterans Memorial”

WEST VIRGINIA STATE CAPITOL COMPLEX“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.  Veterans took issue with the design and argued the woman should be in dress uniform as opposed to the relaxed military fatigues.

“From the birth of the United States to the present, women have played invaluable roles in the country’s military efforts. Woman have been important assets from their support roles as cooks and nurses in the Revolutionary War to serving in direct combat roles in current engagements. Today there are few roles left in the US military that a woman cannot fill (submarine duty, SEALs, etc.)”

              “State Set to Commemorate Female Veterans  Memorial”

West Virginia Gazette     November 9, 2011

“Female veterans waited more than 13 years to have a symbol representing their service to the country installed at the state Capitol. The wait ended one year ago when a large bronze statue of a military woman was placed about 50 feet from the West Virginia Veterans Memorial. Nearly one year to the date, the statue will finally be officially commemorated. . . “

Explore Charleston Gazette-Mail’s “State Set to Commemorate Female Veterans  Memorial” article to continue reading


“Gold Star Family Memorial Monument”

wv history       October 2 ,2020

WV State Capitol Complex“West Virginia’s living Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams enjoyed a couple of milestones Friday. He turned 97 and was on hand to unveil a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument on the grounds of the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston.  “This monument represents all of the Gold Star family members in West Virginia, 11,477 of our citizens have sacrificed their lives for all of us and for America,” said Williams as he stood alone during the virtual unveiling ceremony.”


“The shiny black marker gleamed in the sunshine as Williams saluted.  It’s located just steps away from the state’s Veterans Memorial which bears the name of all from West Virginia who have died in service to the country.”

“Williams started the campaign to recognize the families of those killed in service to the nation with a goal of placing markers in all 50 states. As of Friday, 49 states have at least one of the monuments.  The first was dedicated in the Donnel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Institute. The monument at the West Virginia State Capitol is the largest to date.  “It’s a very emotional moment for me, because of remembering those I knew as a youth who sacrificed their lives for our country,” Williams said as the drape was lifted on the memorial at the Capitol Complex.”

WV State Capitol Complex“The monument consists of four panels. The Homeland panel features the seal of the state of West Virginia and is etched with the New River Gorge Bridge in the backdrop. The Family panel is dedicated to military families who have stayed behind as a loved one served the nation. The Patriot panel is dedicated to all who have served and includes a colored etching of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi. The scene was particularly special to Williams who actually witnessed the flag from a distance the moment it happened. The fourth panel is the Sacrifice panel, which was dedicated to the sacrifice made by those who paid the ultimate price in service to the country.”

“Each monument also includes a cut out silhouette of a saluting soldier, a symbol to honor those who are no longer here.  The Charleston monument was the 69th dedicated in the nation. There are 74 more under construction across the country.”

“The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument”

wv capitol“Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments are a two-sided tribute made of black granite. One side bears the words: Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom. The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. At the center of this tribute, is a silhouette of a saluting service member which represents the Legacy of the Loved Ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom. Together, these features tell each community’s unique story based upon the Pillars of the Foundation.”

“Initially the Foundation’s goal was to establish a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Woody’s home state of West Virginia. Once that monument was complete, a new mission became clear to Woody and those at the Woody Williams Foundation to establish these monuments in as many communities as possible in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”

Explore Woody Williams Foundation’s “Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments” Website

“The Culture Center”

culture-centerculture 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.”

    “West Virginia State Museum, Archives and History Library, Theater”

“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.”

“During the 1970s, the state funded the construction of a separate building for its Division of Culture and History. Completed in 1976 largely due to the support of then-governor Arch Moore, the Cultural Center and other buildings on the capitol complex replaced a city block that had been home to several restaurants and retail outlets. The project was controversial at the time, as many residents opposed the cost of the construction project while others questioned the efficacy of the state using eminent domain. Still others questioned the wisdom of expanding the size of the capitol complex and questioned the benefit of an expanded museum and cultural center.”

“In addition to exhibits, the museum offers a gift shop on the entry floor that features art, jewelry, food, and assorted baubles produced by West Virginia natives. The Culture Center complex also holds the West Virginia State Archives and History Library, also available to residents and visitors at no cost.”

“The Center’s great hall, with its white Alabama marble walls accented by West Virginia oak, a red Tennessee marble floor, gold and wood coffered ceiling, and two large dodecahedronshaped bronze and crystal chandeliers, welcomes visitors. The 468seat theater, behind the great hall, hosts West Virginia’s performing artists, dance, theater, jazz, and film festivals, affairs of state, and performance broadcasts of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s ‘‘Mountain Stage.” “

         “West Virginia Library Commission”

west virginia state capitol“Created in 1929 by the state legislature, the West Virginia Library Commission administers federal and state funds to public libraries, maintains the Statewide Library Network, and provides other essential services to 172 public libraries across West Virginia.  WVLC maintains a library in the state Culture Center in Charleston, providing residents and government employees with access to print and online collections; research assistance; printing and copying services; library cards for borrowing privileges; desktop computers; and Wi-Fi access.  WVLC also offers Special Services for the visually impaired, blind and physically handicapped.

Through consultation, resources, and technology, WVLC helps public libraries provide West Virginians: 

  • Access to resources to meet their educational and informational needs
  • Access to Internet, te​lecommunications, and technology resources and services that meet the needs of their libraries and communities
  • Access to library services that sustain lifelong learning, develop early childhood literacy skills and promote reading 
  • Access to materials and services to enhance their lives and further the development of the state’s economy Access to responsive services and skilled appropriately trained public servants in their libraries.​​​​​”

Explore West Virginia Library Commission’s “What We Do” website  —  includes links to State Reference Library, Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library Consulting, Library Television Network, and West Virginia Center for the Book


         “West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History”

West Virginia Arts Culture History“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, West Virginia State Museums, West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the State Historic Preservation Office.

Explore “West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History” Website

“An Introduction to the West Virginia Archives and History”     (3:14/2013/wvarchivesandhistory)

An Introduction to the West Virginia Arts Section  (3:13/2013/wvarchivesandhistory)

“An Introduction to the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office”     (2:42/2013/wvarchivesandhistory)

         “Museum Section” – West Virginia Arts, Culture and History

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

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

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

West Virginia Arts Culture HistoryWEST VIRGINIA MUSEUMS“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.”

The museum is located on the lower level of the Culture Center which was dedicated in 1976 and adjacent to the state capitol, where the museum had been located from the time of the capitol’s construction until the completion of this dedicated facility. The museum is open without charge to all visitors. Guests can choose a guided tour or walk at their own pace through the museum’s twenty-six rooms of exhibits. The museum rotates some of their exhibits, displaying different items from its collection of 60,000 items.”

“The museum’s collections date back to 1890 with the formation of the West Virginia Historical and Antiquarian Society. The state museum first opened in 1894 and was located in the old state capitol building in downtown Charleston. The museum’s collection was later moved to a separate annex-a decision that may have saved the archives from destruction in the 1921 capitol fire. When the current state capitol was completed in 1932, the museum and archives were located in the basement. Starting in 2001 and completed in 2008, the museum underwent major renovations that modernized, improved, and expanded the exhibits.”
Explore “The West Virginia State Museum at The Culture Center” Website

               “An Introduction to the West Virginia State Museum”

west virginia state museum culture center capitol“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)

               “West Virginia State Museum Reopens after Renovation” – West Virginia Public Broadcasting

west virginia 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)

               “Museum Virtual Tour”

“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. West Virginia’s story is shared by traveling through a series of scenic environments that represent a variety of places significant to our historical timeline. . .”

Explore West Virginia State Museum’s “Museum Virtual Tour” – videos for each of the Museum’s 26 Discovery Rooms – includes link to the narrative file [scripts.]

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

wv state museum floor

For tours of The Culture Center / The West Virginia State Museum call (304) 558-0220.

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


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

  West Virginia Veterans Memorial




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