September 5, 2014 – West Virginia’s State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion

Returning to Charleston, we took the “short” route east on US-60, saving more than 60 tortious miles we put on yesterday. Along the way, we passed several large working coal mine facilities located along the Kanawha River … massive complexes, some loading coal onto up to 100 or more rail cars.

DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DCA - Loading Coal CarsFurther downstream, we saw barges also being loaded.

DSC_0011 DSC_0009Our destination was the West Virginia State Capitol Building.

West Virginia Capitol (from Kanawha Street), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Prior to the American Civil War, the counties that would ultimately form West Virginia were a part of the state of Virginia; the state capitol was in Richmond, Virginia. After Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the northwest counties of Virginia loyal to the United States started the process which would ultimately create the State of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.

Settling on a state capital location, however, proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheeling and Charleston.

 

Wheeling (1863 – 1875)

Wheeling (1863 – 1875)

Charleston (1870 – 1875)

Charleston (1870 – 1875)

Wheeling (1875 – 1885)

Wheeling (1875 – 1885)

In 1877, however, the state’s citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston was chosen and, eight years later, the first capitol building was opened.

Charleston (1885 – 1927)

Charleston (1885 – 1927)

After a fire in 1921, a hastily-built structure was opened but it too burned down in 1927. Two people were killed in that fire and a memorial was built in memory of the victims.
The present Capitol took eight years to complete at a cost of just under $10 million. It was constructed in three stages. The west wing was built in 1924-25; the east wing was constructed in 1926-27; and the rotunda connecting the wings was completed in 1930-32. Governor William G. Conley dedicated the new Capitol on the state’s 69th birthday, June 20, 1932.

The architect chosen was Cass Gilbert, born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1859, he studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1912, Gilbert designed the world’s first skyscraper, the Woolworth Building in New York City. His other works include the state capitols of Minnesota and Arkansas, and the U.S. Treasury Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. Gilbert died in 1934, just two years after West Virginia’s State Capitol was completed.

The exterior of the classical-styled building is buff Indiana limestone. More than 700 train carloads of limestone and 4,640 tons of steel were used in its construction. The magnificent 293-foot gold dome which tops the structure is five feet higher than the dome of the U.S. Capitol. The entire dome is gilded in 23½ karat gold leaf applied to the copper and lead roof in tiny 3 3/8 inch squares.

West Virginia Capitol (Exterior Dome - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Exterior Dome - c), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Exterior Dome Spire - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Exterior Dome Spire - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Two thirds of the interior of the Capitol is marble – White Imperial Danby Vermont, Italian Travertine, and Tennessee. Consisting of 535,000 square feet of floor space, the building has 333 rooms in its main unit and two wings.

We entered from the main entrance facing the Kanawha River.

However, had we entered through the East Wing we’d have been greeted by the faces of Mercury (who presided over commerce), Vulcan (the celestial artist and architect), and Minerva (the goddess of wisdom).

West Virginia Capitol (West Wing Entrance - Mercury, Vulcan and Minerva), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05While over the West Wing entrance, the carved faces of Vesta (goddess of hearth and family), Neptune (controller of the rivers and seas) and Ceres (goddess of agriculture) would have greeted us.

West Virginia Capitol (East Wing Entrance - Vestra, Neptune and Ceres), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05
Rotunda

Robert C. Byrd (America’s longest serving Senator – 51 years)

Robert C. Byrd (America’s longest serving Senator – 51 years)

“Stonewall” Jackson

“Stonewall” Jackson

Labor Leader “Cleve” Bailey

Labor Leader “Cleve” Bailey

Anna Javis (Founder of Mother’s Day)

Anna Javis (Founder of Mother’s Day)

Rotunda Dome

 West Virginia Capitol (Interior of the Dome - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Interior of the Dome - c), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05

Legislative Foyers

The massive columns in the foyers of the House and Senate Foyers are solid marble, each weighing 34 tons.

The massive columns in the foyers of the House and Senate Foyers are solid marble, each weighing 34 tons.

The black and gold Belgium marble columns are capped by Italian alabaster urns and flank both sides of each corridor

The black and gold Belgium marble columns are capped by Italian alabaster urns and flank both sides of each corridor

Interior Friezes

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.

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.

House Chamber

100 Members

100 Members

Frieze (Eagle’s Wings Partly Folded)

Frieze (Eagle’s Wings Partly Folded)

Ceiling relief panels

Ceiling relief panels

Chandelier (Identical chandeliers in both House and Senate chambers – These 1,500 pound fixtures contain 10,000 pieces of crystal and 3,000 pieces of glass beading)

Chandelier (Identical chandeliers in both House and Senate chambers – These 1,500 pound fixtures contain 10,000 pieces of crystal and 3,000 pieces of glass beading)

Senate Chamber

34 Members

34 Members

West Virginia Capitol (Senate Chamber - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05

Original Desks

Original Desks

Frieze (Eagle with Wings Spread)

Frieze (Eagle with Wings Spread)

Ceiling relief panels

Ceiling relief panels

Supreme Court Chamber

West Virginia Capitol (Supreme Court Chamber), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Governor’s Reception Office

 West Virginia Capitol (Governor's Reception Office Entrance), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Governor's Reception Office - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Capitol (Governor's Reception Office - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05
Across the expansive, tree-shaded grounds from the Capitol is the beautiful and stately, 30-room executive mansion … one of a very few on the same parcel as the State House … and the home of the Governor and his family.

This elegantly proportioned Georgian structure is set off by red Harvard brick and while Corinthian columns.

This elegantly proportioned Georgian structure is set off by red Harvard brick and while Corinthian columns.

Foyer - where the Georgian staircases provide symmetry and are graced by the black Belgium and white Tennessee marble floor.

Foyer – where the Georgian staircases provide symmetry and are graced by the black Belgium and white Tennessee marble floor.

To the right of the entrance, is the formal parlor

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Parlor - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Parlor - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05with a 200-year-old grandfather’s clock …

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Grandfather's Clock - circa early 18th century - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Grandfather's Clock - circa early 18th century - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05and to the left, the ballroom (which is not used as a ballroom but an other parlor for entertaining guests)

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Ballroom - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05with its antique clock

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Antique Clock), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05and nearly 700-year-old vase.

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (13th Century Vase), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Off the ballroom is a delightful Sun Room/porch.

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Proch - b), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Proch - a), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05To the rear, is the formal dining room with a 14-foot table which can seat up to 22 people.

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Dining Room Table), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05 West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Dining Room Breakfront), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Also off the kitchen is the breakfast room where the Governor and his First Lady eat each morning and which looks out onto a beautiful garden area.

West Virginia Governor's Mansion (Governor's Breakfast Room), Charleston, WV - 2104-09-05Also on the State House campus is the state’s Cultural Museum. It showcases West Virginia’s history (dating back to prehistoric times), economic, political, artistic and cultural heritage. Just a few of the hundreds of artifacts on display include:

Prohibition era still and rifle of Roe Witt, one of the region’s most infamous bootleggers.

Prohibition era still and rifle of Roe Witt, one of the region’s most infamous bootleggers.

When a warrant for his arrest was issued by federal officials, the still was and spiral condenser, known as a “worm” to IRS officials, were seized, Witt was nowhere to be found and never captured.

The 35-star flag authorized as the official U.S, flag on July 4, 18563, two weeks after West Virginia entered the Union. Two years later, Nevada became the 34th state and the flag was replaced.

The 35-star flag authorized as the official U.S, flag on July 4, 18563, two weeks after West Virginia entered the Union. Two years later, Nevada became the 34th state and the flag was replaced.

A block of bituminous coal, weighing nearly 4,000 pounds.

A block of bituminous coal, weighing nearly 4,000 pounds.

The noose allegedly used to hang John Brown after his abortive raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

The noose allegedly used to hang John Brown after his abortive raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

An early 20th century telephone operators’ switchboard

An early 20th century telephone operators’ switchboard

A history of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Feud

A history of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s Feud

The helm from an old sternwheeler

The helm from an old sternwheeler

Fossilized tree fern (290-323 million years old) – the stuff from which coal was created.

Fossilized tree fern (290-323 million years old) – the stuff from which coal was created.

We then walked the State Capitol’s grounds, where a number of statues were prominently displayed.

“Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” – depicting the president contemplating the nation torn apart by a civil war.

“Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” – depicting the president contemplating the nation torn apart by a civil war.

Booker T. Washington – the famous African-American educator who established the country’s first vocational school for African Americans in Alabama.

Booker T. Washington – the famous African-American educator who established the country’s first vocational school for African Americans in Alabama.

Liberty Bell, given to the State in 1950, one of 53 given the United States government by France and fountain in front of the North entrance.

Liberty Bell, given to the State in 1950, one of 53 given the United States government by France and fountain in front of the North entrance.

“The Coal Miner” – paying tribute to the state’s coal heritage.

“The Coal Miner” – paying tribute to the state’s coal heritage.

“The Mountaineer Soldier” – commemorating the state’s home guard which answered President’ Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861

“The Mountaineer Soldier” – commemorating the state’s home guard which answered President’ Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861

“Stonewall Jackson” – it was the first statue erected on the Capitol grounds, dedicated in 1910 when the Capitol building was located in downtown Charleston.

“Stonewall Jackson” – it was the first statue erected on the Capitol grounds, dedicated in 1910 when the Capitol building was located in downtown Charleston.

“West Virginia Female Veterans” – dedicated to all female veterans

“West Virginia Female Veterans” – dedicated to all female veterans

and a memorial to all West Virginia’s veteran’s of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War … with the names of this lost in those conflicts inscribed on the inside of the circular monument.

 

World War I

World War I

World War II

World War II

Korean War

Korean War

Vietnam

Vietnam

 

 

 

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