Discover U.S. 60: The Midland Trail
Originating first as a buffalo trail adopted by Native Americans for east-west tavel, today the Midland Trail remains an important route of travel across West Virginia.
On August 26th, 1863, Union cavalry under the command of General William Woods Averell clashed with Confederate troops led by Colonel George S. Patton in Greenbrier County--only two months after West Virginia achieved statehood by “seceding” from Virginia. Its nascent statehood was, in fact, the cause of the battle, as Averell’s 1,300 men had been ordered to secure law books from the Virginia State Supreme Court in Rebel-held Lewisburg. The fierce fight that followed was, for its size, spectacularly bloody, and involved one of the few “classic” cavalry charges of the American Civil War, in the style of the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s. Now named for the nearby town of White Sulphur Springs, the battle has also been known by a multitude of other titles, including the Battle of Dry Creek, Howard Creek, Rocky Gap, and "The Battle of the Law Books."
On May 26, 2017, the city of White Sulphur Springs declared this previously unnamed street in honor of NASA mathematician Katherine Coleman Johnson. Now known as "Katherine Coleman Johnson Way," this street the leads to the city library honors the life of the mathematician from White Sulphur Springs whose contributions to the American space program were highlighted in the movie "Hidden Figures." Katherine Coleman was born in White Sulphur Springs and demonstrated an incredible aptitude for math. Johnson quickly earned a degree in mathematics from West Virginia State University and became one of the first three African American graduate students to be admitted to West Virginia University in 1939. Her work for NASA in the 1950s played a critical role in the calculations needed to place spacecraft into orbit, and later, on the Moon. Johnson was awarded many honors for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2016, the film "Hidden Figures" detailed her contributions to NASA.
The Greenbrier Resort dates back to the late 18th century, when visitors to the area would "take the waters" of the local spring that contained minerals believed to restore health. In the years leading up to the Civil War, the resort was a gathering place for Southern politicians and hosted five sitting U.S. Presidents and influential families.
Hidden in the rolling hills of West Virginia, the United States Congress built a secret nuclear bunker within the nationally acclaimed Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. In light of the Cold War, Congress moved to build this extensive bunker where they could be protected from a nuclear disaster. After the war, pressure from the media led to the location of the bunker to be revealed. The resort has since opened the bunker for tours.
It is thought the house was built in 1834 according to a date cut into a brick in the wall. A number of alterations have been made to the house through the years, the most conspicuous being the replacement of the original double portico with the present colonial entrance and an open terrace. Colonel C. E. Turley, historian, describes the house as, "...been occupied, over the years, by six of Greenbrier County's most prominent families. All of them, it seems, made numerous and conspicuous alterations. In size the house is imposing and its workmanship inside and out is of the finest."
The original part of this house was built about 1807. Underneath the weatherboard is log construction which proves it to be one of the earliest houses on Washington Street. The building has an extensive history as a guest house known as the Carmin Tavern and later the Athea Inn.
This brick house began as a rather plain two-story brick structure with impressive tall chimneys. This transitional house with an ell has seen many additions including porches and a piazza to accommodate the large familes who have resided here. Wide lawns with trees make for an expansive appearance .
The first house on this lot was built circa 1855 by John Dean Venable (1805-1881) and Nancy Winall Venable (1813-1889). The property was bought in 1892 by Mason Mathews (1867-1928) and Jane Montgomery Mathews. The Mathews either added to and enlarged the Venable house or razed the Venable house and built a new one. The house gained the many turn of its century features in the late 1800s. This structure is notable for its variety of beautiful leaded and beveled window glass. Through the years, several additions were made to the rear of the house.
This house was built in 1845 to replace an earlier brick home that burned. This is a three-by-three bay, L-shaped structure with a hipped roof. Its floor plan is regular Georgian with large 6/6 sashes. Special feature include the very large inside chimneys with corbeled caps, the pairs of brackets all around the deep cornice, and substantial entrance porch with much Italianate-style decorative woodwork.
Noted for its attractive imbricated shingles, this house was constructed circa 1835 by William S. and Elizabeth Littlepage . The original basement kitchen still exists in the house.
This lovely painted pink brick home was built in 1834. It is noted for a fine hand-carved entrance doorway with sidelights and a semi-eplipitical fanlight with delicate tracery. The doorway is supported by reeded columnns, which are repeated on the inside. The door still has the original brass box lock. In the rear yard are original log outbuildings. Noteworthy are the sunburst designs on the mantles of the fireplaces in the living and dinning rooms.
This Federal style building may have been built by master mason, John Weir, as a store house. John Withrow (1816-1886), owned the building from 1852-1865 and ran his mercantile business in it. He lived upstairs with his wife, Louisa Anne Withrow (1819-1878). Louisa taught at the Lewisburg Academy. In her obituary, she was described as "...a decided Presbyterian, yet, she was catholic in her views, and liberal and non-sectarian in her sentiments."
This two-story painted brick building was the "western part" of The Bell Tavern that was thought to have been built before 1823 and has since been demolished. This building may have been built by John Weir, noted architect and brick mason. In addition to having been part of the adjacent tavern, it was a store house and was occupied by a saddle shop in 1879.
Opened on December 23, 1913 by W. W. Foster, the Princess Theatre was the first moving picture theatre in Lewisburg and began by showing silent films. It was also reported to have been the site of a basement speakeasy during Prohibition.
Since its construction, this building has housed a saddler's shop, meat market, and restaurant. It is best known as Clingman's Market, which operated within the building for 57 years, from 1945 to 2002.
This two-story mercantile building was built circa 1910 and replaced a log building that once housed Greenbrier County's first courthouse. Work done in the 1980s found the foundation for a smaller building beneath the existing building.
The building that originally stood on this lot was built in 1845 and had been used as a tinner's shop, a drug store, and for general merchandising. The building survived the great fire of 1897 that destroyed much of downtown, but it did not survive a fire in 1997. Today it is used as a public park.
This building was constructed in 1897 to replace buildings destroyed in the fire of the same year. It replaced the burned Bank of Lewisburg that later became the Greenbrier Valley Bank. For many years, Lewisburg had the only bank between Staunton, Virginia, and Charleston. It was designed by James M. Lee of the Lee Military Academy and built under the supervision of Joseph F. Wright of Huntington. The woodwork was done by William L. Wetzel of Lewisburg. The building was initially trimmed with blue sandstone that was brought from Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to the bank, it was built to accommodate a retail store and post office on the ground floor and rental offices on the second floor. Today, it houses Lewisburg's City Hall and two retail stores. Noteworthy is the bracketed cast meal cornice atop the facade with a centered pediment bearing the date 1897.
Materials, such as its hand-hewn log frame and its construction methods, indicate that this house was built in the late 1700s and is one of the earliest houses in Lewisburg. Luke Bowyer, a prominent lawyer in the late 1700s and early 1800s, lived here from 1808 to 1814. Later, it belonged to William Foster, who served as Lewisburg's mayor from 1928-1930 and 1933-1942. He is the longest serving mayor to date.
Operated by the Greenbrier Historical Society, the North House Museum offers a variety of exhibits that share the history of life in the Greenbrier Valley for over more than two centuries. The museum is located in the historic home of John and Charlotte North which was built about 1820. In 1836 the home became James Frazer's Star Tavern and Inn. At the turn of the century, it was owned by the Greenbrier College for Women until its closure in 1972. Four years later, the historical society acquired the house. Over the past decades, this museum and library have amassed a collection of thousands of artifacts and rare books. The museum and society also host special community and educational events throughout the year.
Thought to have been built about 1800, this is a frame building with hand-hewn studs. The log kitchen and dogtrot were late enclosed as part of the house. It is named for Col. Goshen, a former postmaster.
In 1751, at the present site of Lewisburg, WV, Andrew Lewis and his father found a spring which they named Lewis Spring. Eventually this spring started to attract settlers, and houses were built near the springs. Due to the French and Indian War, settlers had to disperse but in 1760 they returned to the area. Scholars have long debated the existence and year of establishment for Fort Savannah, however the location of the fort around the two springs and 100 yards southeast of the courthouse seems to be agreed upon.
During the Civil War, Greenbrier County firmly supported the Confederacy and several battles occurred in the area. In 1906, the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a monument to Greenbrier County's Confederate dead. Originally located on the grounds of former Greenbrier College, the rerouting of Route 60 necessitated the relocation of the monument to its present location. In 2020, there were calls for the monument's removal or relocation to the nearby Confederate cemetery, but the city government ultimately decided against removal, promising instead to incorporate new interpretive signs around the monument.
This district is a row of several houses on Maple Street that one could drive right past and not think twice about. The houses themselves are older homes constructed before the civil rights movement. It is a quiet neighborhood no one currently lives in. The importance is that it was one of the first "integrated" parts of West Virginia. This place is relatively close to the main part of town and for African Americans to be living this close to town was unheard of. There was some discomfort from the townspeople but in all there was little push back.
The 1778 campaign against Forts Randolph and Donnally by British-allied Native fighters is one of the most pivotal moments in the progress of the American War for Independence in the area that became West Virginia. Prosecuted over the latter half of May that year, the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to destroy two of the most important rebel strongholds in what were then the borderlands of western Virginia ensured that the influx of white settlers to the area would continue unabated. Led by the Wyandot leader Dunquat (Petawontakas, Pomoacan), the weeklong siege of Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant and subsequent attack on Fort Donnally in Rader’s Valley was most likely an at least partial retaliation for the murder of the Shawnee leader Cornstalk the previous year. Dunquat’s failure to destroy the two forts ultimately allowed the Virginian government to shift its attention elsewhere, preparing for a campaign against the British at Detroit believing that their interests to the south along the Kanawha were adequately protected. The marker commemorating this campaign in Greenbrier County is accessible year-round along U.S. 60.
This historical marker shares the story of the only known case where the alleged testimony of a "ghost" led to a criminal conviction. The history behind the sensational story of a murdered wife and a community that initially failed to investigate the cause of death reveals important truths about patriarchy and the state of medicine at the turn of the century. The trial and conviction of Edward Shue occurred following the 1897 death of his wife, Zona Heaster-Shue, near present-day Sam Black Church. According to the local legend, many assumed her death was from natural causes owing to several visits by a physician for health issues related to unknown ailments many at this time labeled with generic euphemisms such as the "female complaint." Zona's mother had long distrusted her daughter's husband and immediately suspected foul play. She reported that she was visited by her daughter in several dreams, likely a reflection of her self-consciousness. As is often the case in small communities, the story of the mother's dreams changed as it was shared throughout the community. Before long, community members told tales about how Zona's mother had been visited by a ghost. The story grew to the point where many believe that it was these repeated paranormal visits that compelled the mother to demand that her daughter's body be disinterred for a complete autopsy. The mother may have used the community's interest in the case to demand an autopsy. As a result of public interest, the coroner complied and found that Zona's neck had been broken. This new evidence led to the conviction of Zona's husband. While the testimony of the "ghost" was not used in court, many believe that it was a series of paranormal visits that compelled the coroner to investigate the cause of Zona's death. Over a century later, the murder and trial remain a legend that is shared throughout the community.
King Coal Hotel was one of the leading businesses in the town of Rainelle, which was once home to the world's largest hardwood lumber mill. Rainelle-area industries related to lumber and coal. The area attracted many visitors to the city in the early 1950s and needed a place for people to stay when they came to town for business. The hotel's decline mirrored that of the mill, and the building was demolished in 2014.
Lee's Tree is the location of a Sugar Maple tree where General Lee first saw his horse, Traveller and later pitched his tent for his Confederate headquarters in the fall of 1861. The site, located at the highest point on the Midland Trail, is now surrounded by iron fencing and is home to a replacement tree; the original tree was cut down and made into souvenirs for the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Rainelle is a small town in West Virginia with a population of 1,505 people according to the 2010 census. Used to be home to the world’s largest hardwood sawmill. The saw mill was tore down in 1975. U.S. route 60 runs through this small town. Rainelle is home to Cincinnati Reds pitcher Arnold Carter in 1944-1945. He finished the National League TOP TEN for winning percentages, shutouts, and saves.
This historical marker is located near one of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's headquarters during his disastrous Western Virginia campaign of 1861. Union victories gave control of much of Western Virginia, including the future state of West Virginia, to the Union thereby depriving the Confederacy of resources, transportation routes, and territory where slavery was practiced and support for the Confederacy was significant. Union sentiment was also strong, and with Union control of most of the area secured early in the war the stage was set for western Virginia counties to form their own government in 1863. The site is located near the town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County which is part of present-day West Virginia. During this campaign, Lee received his "Granny Lee" nickname due to his failures. His reputation as a military leader grew in the years that followed owing to his success in thwarting Union offensives in Virginia. However, Lee also made the fateful decision to invade Northern territory in 1862 and 1863. The resulting Union victories marked important turning points in the military history of the war. Despite the failure of those campaigns and the series of defeats he endured in this 1861 campaign, Lee continues to be regarded by many Americans as a brilliant military leader largely owing to his success in defending Virginia from several Union offensives in the early years of the war.
This historic marker in Fayette County commemorates a sandstone formation known as "Spy Rock." The rock itself is a short hike beyond the highway, leading some to confuse the small rock formations near the sign as Spy Rock. However, historical markers are usually placed on well-traveled roads for the sake of visibility. Both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War used this rock formation to provide both high ground and cover. Spy Rock's most significant role came when Union troops under the command of General J.D. Cox camped in this area and used the rock formation as a means of surveying a broad area of territory and occupying the higher ground as they trailed Confederates under Robert E. Lee. Prior to the Civil War, Native Americans also used the area to secure a better view of possible threats, referring to the formation as the "Rock of Eyes."
Tyree's Tavern, also known in the region as the Halfway House of Ansted, was constructed in 1810 and is the oldest remaining building in the area. Constructed in the antebellum period, this tavern and inn served travelers along the Midland Trail. The building is believed to the be the oldest in Fayette County and was owned and operated by William Tyree. During the war, Tyree became the captain of Company C, 22nd Regiment Virginia Infantry. The tavern would be occupied by both Union and Confederate forces during the war. During the American Civil War, it would also serve as a hospital, homestead, and halfway house. The tavern includes the words "Headquarters of the Chicago Gray Dragoons," above the door. This was carved into the door by a Union Civil War unit that occupied the house. Tyree's Tavern is the oldest building in Fayette County. The property's origins as an established claim (but not the building) date back to 1792 when Charles Skaggs established a patent of 400 acres. The land was sold to William Tyree in 1834 and built this structure in the following years. The location was perfect for many reasons due to its position. The tavern is located between Charleston and Lewisburg making it the perfect spot for travelers who were making the mountainous journey. Seizing this opportunity, William turned his investment into a tavern and occasional stagecoach stop. Tyree's Tavern is the oldest building in Fayette County. The property's origins as an established claim (but not the building) date back to 1792 when Charles Skaggs established a patent of 400 acres. The land was sold to William Tyree in 1834 and built this structure in the following years. The location was perfect for many reasons due to its position. The tavern is located between Charleston and Lewisburg making it the perfect spot for travelers who were making the mountainous journey. Seizing this opportunity, William turned his investment into a tavern and occasional stagecoach stop. Tyree's Tavern is the oldest building in Fayette County. The property's origins as an established claim (but not the building) date back to 1792 when Charles Skaggs established a patent of 400 acres. The land was sold to William Tyree in 1834 and built this structure in the following years. The location was perfect for many reasons due to its position. The tavern is located between Charleston and Lewisburg making it the perfect spot for travelers who were making the mountainous journey. Seizing this opportunity, William turned his investment into a tavern and occasional stagecoach stop.
The African American Heritage Family Tree Museum is dedicated to the collection, exhibition and preservation of African American culture and history in West Virginia. This museum is open to the public Memorial Day through Labor Day. The museum was established in 1991 by Norman Jordan and Dr. Brucella Jordan. The Norton House in Malden WV is connected to this museum, and is available to view by appointment.
This marker commemorates Julia Jackson, mother of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. Jackson is best known as an able military commander who earned his nickname for demonstrating stoic courage under fire during the first battle of Manassas. His mother, Julia Jackson, was born in Loudon County, Virginia in February, 1798. She bore six other children and died during childbirth from complications in December of 1831. Julia Jackson was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Westlake Cemetery in Ansted. Years later, a former Confederate Captain who had served with her son located her burial plot and placed a tombstone to mark the location of her grave. As of 2017, this is one of only two-dozen historical markers that commemorate women in West Virginia. Like several of those markers, this marker focusses almost exclusively on the actions and lives of men.
The historic Westlake Cemetery is nestled in the mountains of West Virginia in the town of Ansted and serves as the final resting place for prominent citizens, coal miners, teachers, and a significant number of Civil War soldiers. Two of the most prominent people buried here are colonial settler William Tyree who established an inn and tavern prior to the Civil War and the mother of Stonewall Jackson.
The Page-Vawter House is a 19th century Victorian home in Fayette County that was built by the Hawks Nest Coal Company and served as the home of the company's president and general manager. The property has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.
In 1880 the West Virginia militia was used for the first time to stop a coal mine strike. The clashing of union and nonunion workers in the Coal Valley and Hawks Nest mines led the unionized works to halt work. After the strikers threatened violence to workers in neighboring mines, Governor Henry Matthews called in the state militia to arrest miners and break up the strike. The events at Hawks Nest and Coal Valley set a president for the handling of future mine strikes. The Hawks Nest Rail Trail offers a view of the Mill Creek Colliery Mine which was involved in the strike.
Contentment House is a pre-Civil War structure that is owned and operated by the Fayette County Historical Society as a local history museum. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home's original structure dates back to the 1830s and the home was expanded to its current state in 1872 by then-owner George Imboden, a former Confederate officer who also served as the first mayor of the town of Ansted. Today, the home serves as a museum with period antiques and Civil War era décor.
Despite being considered one of the greatest industrial disasters in United States history, the events at Hawks Nest Tunnel remain remarkably unacknowledged in the development of American labor. As the country sank into the Great Depression, in 1930-1932 a three-mile long tunnel from was dug through the heart of Gauley Mountain in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia by Union Carbide corporation to divert water to a hydroelectric plant, and at the time the project was considered an engineering marvel. Lax safety standards and a disregard for worker welfare, however, caused the death of hundreds of workers from silicosis. Despite later legislation that set precedents in mining and safety standards, Union Carbide avoided any real consequences in the investigation that followed.
First established as a State Park in 1935, the importance of Hawks Nest dates back to well before West Virginia became a state. Taking its name from the ospreys (also known as “fish hawks”) that are a common sight on nearby cliffs, the area was first called Marshall’s Pillar when it was frequented in the early 1800s by John Marshall, then fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Decades later, the area bore witness to several Civil War skirmishes involving Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Henry Wise. In the 1920s, a nearby tunnel and dam were built to supply power for corporate chemical giant Union Carbide’s plant in Alloy. Finally in 1935, the state of West Virginia bought the surrounding land to build a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps built several of the structures in the park including a scenic overlook and museum, which draw thousands of visitors annually to this day.
Lovers’ Leap is located inside of Hawks Nest State Park at the top of a cliff that stands 585 feet above the New River Gorge. After climbing 100 stones steps, you can view the New River Valley from the cliff’s edge. Lovers’ Leap is situated along the historic Midland Trail, and has been a common location for suicides dating back to the early 1800’s; this history has resulted in the naming of the location, as it is rumored that several lovers have leaped from this cliff, for they would rather be together in death than be without love.
Hawk's Nest Overlook was built during the Great Depression as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) construction projects. Chief Justice John Marshall explored this section of Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1812 and was so impressed by the view of the New River valley that this area was often referred to as "Marshall's Pillar." During the 1930s, young men were employed by the CCC to create what is now Hawks Nest State Park. The area is best-known for another construction project, the creation of a tunnel with hydroelectric equipment that generated power as the water of the New River travelled through Gauley Mountain. The government failed to provide protective equipment for the workforce, composed mostly of African American laborers. A Congressional investigation ruled that the failure to provide protective equipment led to the deaths of 476 men whose inhaled silica rock dust while they built the tunnel. Today, Hawks Nest offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, historic markers, and a hotel and gift shop.
The Mystery Hole is located in Fayette County, WV approximately 15 miles from the New River Gorge Bridge. The Mystery Hole was originally constructed, owned and operated by Donald Wilson, a Union Carbide retiree and Navy veteran. He opened the Mystery Hole in 1973 and ran it until his death in 1998.
This historical marker preserves the history of a skirmish that occurred between Union and Confederate forces as they vied for control of strategic transportation and communication routes through the Kanawha Valley. Both Confederate and Union forces considered the wooden covered bridge that was located here to be strategically important because the James River and Kanawha Turnpike linked the area to the Ohio River. Pushed by the Union to retreat from the area, Confederate forces burned the bridge in 1861 to halt the Union force from following them.
This site was once home to the historic Miller Tavern. It was one of the oldest structures in Fayette county. John Hodge Miller, Gauley Bridge's first white settler had the tavern built in the 1820s, the Tavern was used as a stagecoach stop. During the Civil war it was fired upon and housed many soldiers. Future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley were among the soldiers housed. Sadly, efforts to preserve the building were denied and the Miller Tavern was demolished in early 2017.
Shrouded in hidden history, the Gauley Bridge Railroad Station, or the C&O Station of Gauley Bridge, constructed in 1893 likely without the help of an architect, is one of few remaining examples of train stations often referred to today as company trademarks. The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, partially because of its status as a representation of small-town American railroad stations of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It was constructed entirely by underpaid and overworked African American laborers.
A stately inn originally built in 1839 for stagecoach and river travelers, its position along the crucial Kanawha and James River Turnpike guaranteed a large share of notable visitors and events at Glen Ferris It has served as a family residence, Civil War Army quartermaster’s depot, coal mining operation headquarters, and four presidents have stayed under its roof at different times throughout history. Though it has not always served as an Inn for its nearly 200 years, it has since returned to its original function and welcomes visitors to lodge year-round in its historic rooms.
This historical marker reveals the location of a former Union military camp in what was western Virginia at the time of its creation. The 23rd Ohio Voluntary Infantry commanded by future Presidents William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes, used this camp to train, recuperate. The First Brigade of the Second Kanawha Division used this as a staging point. It was also a place for family members to stay and be near their fathers and husbands for periods of time during the war. The camp grew to a total of 56 cabins.
Built in the 1930s by Union Carbide company, this electrometallurgical plant was, in many ways, the cause of the deadly Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster: the tunnel, dam, and powerhouse at Hawks Nest were built to supply power to this facility. The plant was originally owned by Union Carbide and is currently owned by Globe in conjunction with Dow Corning. Also throughout the years, the types of production at the plant has changed. It is now known as WVA Manufacturing.
This Historic High School building also known as Grant Junior High and Grant Elementary School was built in 1925. It was one of the two early high schools built for African American Children during the period of segregated educational facilities. It was used as a Junior High and Elementary after the desegregation in 1986, and is now used as a community center.
American Electric Power's Kanawha River Plant opened in 1953, and was a coal-fired steam generating power plant. In its early years the plant was one of the most heat efficient coal-fired plants in America, and was an innovator in using the coal byproduct fly ash. The plant ultimately ran for 62 years before being retired by AEP in May of 2015, due to an inability to economically meet the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).
Cedar Grove, also known as the William Tompkins House, is a historic home located at Cedar Grove, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Built in 1844, the house stands as a tribute to the growth of the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia prior to the Civil War, which was largely due to the salt industry. Well-known West Virginia writer, Mary Lee Settle (1918 – 2005), is a descendant of the Tompkins. She spent summers at Cedar Grove and, for many, the home is seen as the imaginative wellspring of her writing.
Admiral T. J. Lopez of the United States Navy served as the Commander in Chief United States Naval Forces Europe and the Commander in Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe between 1996 ad 1998. In 1995, while a Vice Admiral, the West Virginia Legislature named the Chelyan Bridge in his honor.
Known as the Old Stone House and built in 1810, the Samuel Shrewsbury House offers a reminder of West Virginia's early history of salt production. Shrewsbury was one of three brothers who, along with a handful of other entrepreneurs, pioneered the salt mining business in this part of Virginia by utilizing a mixture of slave and free labor. In contrast to other parts of what would become West Virginia, slavery was well-established in this area as well as the valleys along the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. Samuel's brother Joel Shrewsbury and his business partner were the largest user of slave labor in the country and Malden was home to many salt mines that all employed a mix of free and slave labor.
The DuPont Belle Plant was a subsidiary of the E. I. DuPont Company built in 1925. Spanning over 90 years, the Belle plant would be involved in pioneering over 120 different chemical processes, including the synthetic polymer nylon. The plant was known for it's high pressure chemical engineering, which allowed it to be the first to produce high-pressure-process ammonia in North America.
Named after the commander of the 34th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Colonel Abraham Piatt (1821-1908), Camp Piatt was an important U.S. military installation in western Virginia (now West Virginia) during the American Civil War. Strategically located near present-day Belle on the Kanawha River, roughly fifteen miles south of Charleston, it functioned as a vital base of operations for Union forces in the Kanawha Valley. Notably, during the war, two future U.S. presidents—Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley—were stationed at the federal camp for a time.
During the French & Indian War the Virginia and British governments promised bounties of western land to officers who served. George Washington and his fellow officers claimed thousands of acres in what would become West Virginia under the 1754 Virginia proclamation and the Royal Proclamation of 1763. After the springs were discovered in 1773 by other settlers, Washington and his friend Andrew Lewis claimed 250 acres at Burning Springs together. The patent was issued in 1780 and Washington still held his land at his death. In the 1800s the springs became central in the salt and natural gas industries that emerged here along the Kanawha.
Building on a seven-generation tradition and the region's history of salt production, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works opened in 2013 and offers a variety of salts and related products in addition to interpretive tours and other food and heritage-themed events. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, this part of the Kanawha Valley was home to a booming salt industry. Dickinson & Shrewsbury was one of the valley’s most prominent salt manufacturers and based on a partnership formed between William Dickinson and Joel Shrewsbury in 1804. In 1813, the partners arrived in the Kanawha Valley to take advantage of the rapidly growing salt industry. After completing its first salt well in 1817, Dickinson & Shrewsbury went on to drill hundreds more and soon joined the ranks of the “Salt Kings of the Kanawha.” Like most other salt manufacturers along the Kanawha, Dickinson & Shrewsbury used slave labor in its saltworks and mines in the decades before the Civil War. Although the Dickinson & Shrewsbury partnership was dissolved in 1856, the Dickinson family remained in the salt business for decades to come, eventually becoming the only salt manufacturer in the area before it too closed in 1945. Nearly seventy years later, seventh-generation Dickinsons Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne revived the family business to produce small-batch finishing salt and related products.
The Richard E. Putney House is the oldest extant residence in Malden, West Virginia. The house was built in 1836 for Dr. Richard Ellis Putney, a physician who had established a medical practice in the area and married into the prominent Ruffner family. At the time of the house’s construction, Malden was the seat of a booming salt industry in the Kanawha Valley that produced millions of bushels of salt each year. Designed in the imposing Federal style, the Putney House was one of many fine mansions in Malden that conveyed the wealth and status of the local elite. After Putney passed away in 1862, the house remained in the family until 1868, when it was sold to the Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church for use as a manse. In 1952, the church built a new manse and the Putney House was sold and used as a rental property until 1973. That year, it was purchased by lawyers James C. Jeter and James H. Coleman, who began the long process of restoring the historic home. In 1980, the Putney House was included in the Malden Historic District as one of three pivotal structures, reflecting its status as not only Malden’s oldest dwellings, but also one of its most imposing and least altered buildings.
Malden Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest churches in Malden, West Virginia. Originally built as early as 1840, the church served the area’s Methodists at a time when the Kanawha Valley was home to a prosperous salt industry. Methodism, which had come to western Virginia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, spread rapidly as itinerant preachers traveled between congregations across the sparsely-populated region and preached a message of salvation for all. Although Malden Methodist Episcopal Church was founded during Malden’s heyday, it soon witnessed the effects of the Civil War on the community, and may have been caught up in the struggle between the pro-Union Methodist Episcopal Church and the pro-Confederacy Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1911, the church building was extensively remodeled, although a number of original features were retained. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Malden Historic District in 1980, and remains in operation today.
Located in Malden, West Virginia, Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church is the oldest Presbyterian church in the Kanawha Valley. The congregation was established in March 1819 by Reverend Henry Ruffner. The Ruffner family arrived in the valley during the 1790s, and proved instrumental in the early development of the area’s salt industry. The congregation initially held services alternately in Malden and Charleston, until today’s Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church was built and dedicated in 1840. The church has remained open ever since, through the peak of Malden’s commercial activity in the 1850s and the decline of the salt industry and migration of business to Charleston in the decades following the Civil War. The structure has largely retained its original appearance over the years, though a Sunday school wing was added and various renovations have been completed in order to preserve the building. The congregation celebrated its 200th anniversary in March 2019 and continues to maintain a strong presence in the community with Sunday services and other events.
Daniel Boone Park is a public park with a boat ramp and shelter areas for picnics. It is named after the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone because it is said that he took residence in a cave close to the park's location. Boone also lived on the south side of Kanawha River near the park.
Located in Daniel Boone Park in Charleston, West Virginia, the Joseph Ruffner Log Cabin or “Rosedale” originally stood at 1538 Kanawha Boulevard. Built in 1803 by Joseph Ruffner, the log cabin is said to be one of the oldest extant houses in Kanawha County.
The Craik-Patton House and the Ruffner Log Cabin, two significant dwellings that figured in the area's Civil War heritage, have been moved to Daniel Boone Park.
Temple Israel, or Congregation B'nai Israel, began from the early Jewish settlers in the recently founded city of Charleston. By 1856, Congregation B’nai Israel - present-day Temple Israel - was informally organized, predating the creation of the state of West Virginia by seven years, and formally chartered as the Hebrew Educational Society with sixteen members in 1873. Shortly thereafter, the congregation became one of the founding members of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union for Reform Judaism. In 1960, the congregation moved into its current temple on Kanawha Boulevard East and continues to serve Charleston’s Jewish community.
Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson rose to prominence as one of the Confederacy's most successful generals. In 1909, the United Daughters of the Confederacy hired Moses Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran who knew Jackson, to sculpt a bronze state in the general's honor. The state legislature approved placing the statue on capitol grounds, and in 1910 the statue was dedicated to much fanfare. Many onlookers wore "Lily White" buttons during the dedication, which was a campaign to disfranchise African-American voters. In recent years, there have been repeated calls for the monument's removal, but the decision rests with the state legislature.
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.
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.
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. “Whereas, by the Act of Congress approved the 31st. day of December, last, the State of West Virginia was declared to be one of the United States of America, and was admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, upon the condition that certain changes should be duly made in the proposed Constitution for that State; And, whereas, proof of a compliance with that condition as required by the Second Section of the Act aforesaid, has been submitted to me; Now, therefore, be it known, that I Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do, hereby, in pursuance of the Act of Congress aforesaid, declare and proclaim that the said act shall take effect and be in force, from and after sixty days from the date hereof. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.” -Abraham Lincoln (April 20, 1862)
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.
The second executive mansion built for the governor of West Virginia in the state's history, this structure was completed in 1925 at a cost of $200,000. The mansion was designed by Walter Martens, a Charleston architect who designed several other buildings on Charleston's East End. The Georgian-Colonial-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.
The sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was born to humble beginnings in Kentucky. A lawyer by trade, he served four terms in the Illinois General Assembly from 1835 to 1843 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for one term from 1847 to 1849. While he lost the 1858 Illinois senate race, he secured the Republican Party’s nomination for president of the United States two years later and won the election. As president, he shepherded the nation through the Civil War, while also issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, signing the West Virginia statehood bill, and helping to pass the Thirteenth Amendment through Congress. On the evening of April 14, 1865, less than a week after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln was shot by southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. He died early the next morning. In 1867, a new county in southwestern West Virginia was formed from parts of Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, and Putnam counties. It was named Lincoln County in honor of President Lincoln.
The current West Virginia State Capitol was constructed from 1924 to 1932 and is the tallest building in the state and fourth tallest domed capitol building in the United States. The building was designed in the Classical Revival style using Buff Indiana limestone for its exterior and various types of beautifully polished Vermont and Italian marble for the interior. The building is full of artifacts from around the state, oil portraits of former West Virginia governors, crystal chandeliers, and exquisite carvings. Statues commemorating figures of the state’s culture and history can be seen on the stunning campus. 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.
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 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.
Dedicated in 1985, this monument honors West Virginia educator Booker Taliaferro Washington. Born into slavery prior to the end of the Civil War, Washington established Tuskegee University and worked to establish private funding for hundreds of schools for African American children across the South at the turn-of-the-century. After the Civil War, Washington's moved to West Virginia with his mother and stepfather. As a young boy, Washington worked with his stepfather in the salt mines of Malden, a small town near the city of Charleston. At this time, the boy learned of a schoolhouse that was near their home and convinced his stepfather to allow him to attend that school by working morning and nights in the mines while reserving the daytime hours for school. This ambition for knowledge would be the signature of Washington's life. Washington returned to West Virginia throughout his life and often spoke at West Virginia Colored Institute, a historically black college that is now West Virginia State University.
The WV Coal Miners Memorial is located on the grounds of the West Virginia State Capitol Complex in Charleston, West Virginia. The monument was designed by Burl Jones in 2002 to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to mining coal in West Virginia.
Holly Grove Mansion, also known as the Ruffner Mansion, was built in 1815 by Daniel Ruffner, the brother of David, Joseph Jr., and Tobias Ruffner. All were the sons of Joseph Ruffner Sr. and were 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.
Before the Civil War, about 20,000 enslaved African Americans resided in what is today West Virginia. Focused largely in four areas (the Shenandoah Valley, the South Branch Valley, the Kanawha Valley, and the Greenbrier Valley), enslaved African Americans labored in a variety of occupations and settings throughout the region. When West Virginia officially became a state in June 1863, the new state constitution contained only a gradual emancipation clause. However, in February 1865, the West Virginia legislature officially abolished slavery in the state.
The Civil War presented a unique opportunity for African Americans to earn freedom and civil rights on the battlefield. In Appalachia, the 45th United States Colored Troops (USCT) was raised for service during the final, bloody year of the conflict. Over 200 black West Virginians served in the Forty-Fifth. The regiment fought near Petersburg and Richmond, marched in Lincoln's second inaugural parade, and was present for General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. In 2016, a historical marker was placed in Charleston to commemorate the bravery and sacrifices of the Forty-Fifth.
Constructed in 1928-29 for the growing Charleston Women's Club, this stunning French Chateau style building continues to serve the city of Charleston as an event venue and the ongoing activities of the Women's Club itself. The building was designed by Walter Martens, who was also the architect of the West Virginia Governor's Mansion. The Women's Club is part of Charleston's Historic East End and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When the Kanawha County Board of Education introduced new textbooks in June 1974, few could have predicted the resulting controversy. The decision was viewed as a routine matter by each board members until a handful of residents spoke in opposition to the inclusion of information related to the history, culture, and perspectives of minorities. School board member Alice Moore took up the cause of those who were concerned by the new books and her actions and those of others inspired newspaper ads and protests against the new books. Within weeks, some of the more militant opponents of the new books were engaged in physical fights with the defenders of the books. Community members marched with Confederate flags and members of the Ku Klux Klan descended upon the city threatening violence to anyone who opposed them. The violent rhetoric spawned death threats, shootings, and even the bombing of school buildings. A year of tension, violence, and arrests including attacks on school buses carrying children, attacks on the police, and even the bombing of several elementary schools and the Board of Education building. The event is known today as the "Kanawha County Textbook Controversy," a name that may fail to adequately describe the one-sided nature of the anti-intellectualism and racism that led to acts of violence against educators and schools.
This charming Art Deco building sits on Washington Street in the East End of Charleston, West Virginia. Built in 1939, this theater entertained the citizens of Charleston until its closing in 1982. The building was vacant for many years and was in a state of disrepair when, in 2005, the WVSSPA restored it for office use.
In 1898, black women in Charleston, West Virginia, organized a self-help civic organization called the Charleston Woman’s Improvement League. The League sponsored cultural events, supported education, and promoted a variety of causes that were important to members of the city's African American community. The women were particularly active in mentoring young women, creating two auxiliary organizations: Polly Pigtails for children and the League Teens for young women.
In December 1958, former Garnet High School coach James R. Jarrett was named head basketball coach at Charleston High School, the first African American in the state to be appointed head coach at a previously all-white public school.
The Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia is a venue for performing arts as well as a gallery for visual arts and a science museum for children of all ages. Regional and national acts perform at the Clay Center each month, as well as the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The Avampato Discovery Museum offers several floors of exhibits for children and young adults.
Festival delle Arti (Festival of the Performing Arts) is a bronze sculpture by Harry Marinsky. It celebrates the arts with six performers around a vibrant tree. Intended to appeal to adults and engage the imagination and wonderment of children, the sculpture is appropriately located near the front of the Clay Center. Retired attorney Angus E. Peyton donated the sculpture to the city of Charleston. Sculptures by Harry Marinsky can be found throughout Europe and the United States.
The Ferguson Hotel was the dream of Gurnett E. Ferguson and included a retail and business complex in addition to a 72-room hotel. It featured a cafe, a pool room, barber shop, movie theater, and convention hall. Part of the downtown area referred by its inhabitants as "The Block", the Ferguson Hotel served Charleston's African-American community. The building was designed by John C. Norman, the first African American to become a registered architect in Charleston.
The original 1920s Brown Building in The Block, a predominately African American neighborhood and business locations, was built by Anderson Hunt Brown, an African American real estate businessman, and son of former slaves. A second building was built after the 1960s following the purchase of the original. Anderson Brown was a prominent realtor and Civil Rights activist. His real estate included primary locations of many of the original businesses in The Block. Mr.Brown was one of the petitioners in a West Virginia lawsuit "Brown vs Kanawha County Board of Education" over the denial of black persons to use the Kanawha County Public Library (West Virginia's own Brown vs Board of Education, like that of the famous Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, KS).
This historical marker commemorates the history of an African American neighborhood known as “The Block." This 25-acre tract served as the residential, social, economic, educational and religious center of the African American population of the city during the era of segregation. In 2011, the state & city officially recognized local historic district. This marker is one of two West Virginia historical markers commemorating the neighborhood and was erected by the West Virginia Center for African American Art & Culture, Inc.
Once one of the leading shopping destinations in downtown Charleston, this branch of the Stone & Thomas Department Store was constructed in 1947. At the time, the Art Moderne building was heralded as a state-of-the-art retail facility. The retail chain of Stone & Thomas flourished for 151 years and stretched into Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia--reaching a peak of 21 stores before the company was sold in 1998.
The Daniel Boone Hotel was built in 1929 by a group of Charleston citizens known as the Community Hotel Corporation to provide an elegant place for politicians and visiting dignitaries to stay in the capital city. This elegant hotel served as a base for most state legislators during the 60-day legislative sessions. Many laws were conceived, discussed, or modified in the smoke-filled rooms of the hotel, and most of Charleston’s major meetings, banquets, and conventions were held here as well. This piece of property has held a long standing with state government, as it housed the “Pasteboard Capitol” prior to housing the political guests of the Daniel Boone Hotel. Some notable patrons of the Daniel Boone Hotel were John F. Kennedy, Debbie Reynolds, Bette Davis, and Elvis Presley.
The Diamond Department Store was established in 1927, and was a state of the art five floor retailer in Charleston, WV. The store was successful even through the Great Depression and expanded enough in the late 1940s to have the first escalators in the state installed. However, the Diamond Department store was only elaborate for the white population of Charleston, as they banned the African American community from the store’s lunch counter and cafeteria. Local activist, Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, and the Congress of Racial Equality staged sit-ins for a year and a half to fight for their right to be treated equally. In 1930, the Diamond Department Store opened their lunch counter and cafeterias to everyone no matter the color of their skin, thanks to the efforts of Gilmore and CORE.
Named for railroad magnate and US Senator Henry Gassaway Davis, one of the two founders of Davis & Elkins College, this Charleston municipal park is sited on land donated by Davis to the city in 1905. It served a park adjacent to the state capitol until it burned down and was moved in 1921. Now the land serves the community as a beloved green space in downtown Charleston, and features an impressive equestrian statue of Gassaway himself.
The Kanawha Valley Building was constructed in the the late 1920s on property that once housed the West Virginia State Capitol building. The Kanawha Valley Bank originated in the mid 1800s by the Dickinson family, and was the only bank in Charleston constructed after the Civil War to survive the financial panic of 1873. This is second location of the former Kanawha Valley Bank; the first location was housed along Kanawha Boulevard and was lost to urban renewal. The Kanawha Valley Building is the second tallest building in West Virginia following the West Virginia State Capitol.
The late Senator Robert C. Byrd is widely regarded among most West Virginians. Following his 14-hour filibuster on June 10, 1964, in which he attempted to derail the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, African Americans in Charleston took to the streets in protest. Undeterred by the opposition of African Americans and many white residents of West Virginia, Byrd was forced to end his filibuster after the Senate voted 71 to 29 for cloture so that they could vote on the measure. The bill passed despite the opposition of Byrd and most Southern Representatives and Senators. In his later years, Byrd issued an apology for attempting to derail the bill. In his 2005 autobiography, Byrd both credits individual Klan members for helping him develop skills and contacts that proved instrumental in his political career but also advised young people to avoid association with the Klan as it would be a detriment to their future career. He also apologized more directly in that autobiography and called his association and support of the Klan the biggest mistake of his life.
The Peer to Pier Mural is a public art project that utilizes interstate piers as a canvas for local artists. Painted piers help connect the West Side with downtown Charleston.
The Staats Hospital Building was designed by John C. Norman, the first registered African American architect in West Virginia, in 1922. Originally, the structure housed the Glendale Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, the West Side’s first movie theatre, offices and retailers. The second and third floor of the structure was utilized as Staats Hospital from the early 1920s until 1982. The Staats Hospital Building began to deteriorate after the removal of Staats, and after being placed on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s Endangered Properties List, it is currently in the process of being restored. Crawford Holdings purchased the building in 2014, and has used multiple grants to aid in the preservation process.
Elk City Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It covers an area once known as Elk City which was significant as a commercial center that was annexed by the City of Charleston in 1895.
One of Charleston's oldest homes, this beautiful antebellum residence is located on the West Side directly across the street from Stonewall Jackson Middle School. It is possibly the only antebellum home with slave quarters still standing in the Kanawha Valley, a structure that is located directly behind the home and known as "The Quarters."
Named for noted Confederate general and slaveholder Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Stonewall Jackson High School was completed in 1940 and was celebrated as the most modern school in the state of West Virginia. After nearly fifty years, the school was repurposed as a middle school following the completion of Capital High School in 1989. Recognizing the concerns of some community members, students, and parents of this school, which has the highest percentage of African American students in the state, a 2015 petition called on the school board to change the name of the school. The school was not renamed, but in 2020, the issue again received consideration. In July 2020, by a 3-2 vote, the Kanawha County Board of Education determined to rename Stonewall Jackson Middle School to West Side Middle School.
This location/address (1329 E Washington Street) is listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book (1954 edition), and was listed under the category of restaurants and was called "The Hut."
Short tempered Confederate General Wise threatened to blow up the Littlepage Mansion when the wife of Confederate soldier Adam Littlepage refused to give the house up to be used as his headquarters. Rebecca Littlepage stood firmly on her front porch surrounded by her six children and no one would fire the artillery at them, thus sparing the home and their lives. Rebecca was left a widow because of the Civil War and eventually had to sell off much of the land to pay taxes and support her seven children.
Charleston, like the rest of western Virginia, was contested territory during the early years of the Civil War. Confederate troops attempted to capture and hold the city at several points during the course of the war. A marker at this location tells the history of the first engagement in Charleston. In July of 1861, Henry Wise's Confederates attempted to build a small fort at this location in anticipation of a battle with Union troops under the command of General George McClellan. The owner of the property, Rebecca Littlepage, reportedly denied Wise's demands and successfully compelled the Confederates to both leave and spare her home from destruction as they had originally promised.
Around this area stood Camp Atkinson, a short-lived military camp established during the Spanish-American War. This tent encampment was erected on the north bank of the Kanawha River in June 1898. It was named after Governor George Atkinson and replaced an earlier site in Kanawha City, Camp Lee, which had been unpopular with locals. Volunteers from communities such as Wheeling, Charleston, Point Pleasant, Hinton, and Williamson were brought to the camp over the summer and organized into the Second West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Here they received their supplies and performed military drills for training. Camp Atkinson was dismantled in August 1898 when the regiment was transferred to Camp Meade in Pennsylvania, and nothing of the site remains today. Because of the war's short duration, the Second West Virginia was never deployed into combat. It was later mustered out of service in April, 1899.
This is a monument to the first Shoney's Restaurant, originally opened in 1947 as Parkette Drive In by founder Alex Schoenbaum, adjacent to his father's bowling alley. As the chain grew and opened additional restaurants, Schoenbaum franchised with Big Boy restaurant chain, only to drop the affiliation two years later and rebrand as "Shoney's." Currently, a monument/museum commemorates the historic site of the first restaurant.
Patrick Street Bridge was built in 1930. It is a Polygonal Warren through truss design, with all verticals, and is 1,769.1 feet in length. The bridge spans Kanawha River near the I-64 stretch between South Charleston and Charleston, and carries about 18,800 cars a day over the river. It is named after early settler Spicer Patrick, who owned a farm that once stood near the western end of the bridge on Charleston's West Side.
Blaine Island has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Over the years, it has been the site of a gristmill, watermelon farm, amusement park, an air field and a chemical plant. It has even been traded for a rifle. Today ,the Dow Chemical Company continues to operate a chemical plant on the island, which has been on the site for nearly a century.
This Korean War Memorial Park is located near Montrose Drive in South Charleston, WV. It consists of a large brick and stone arch accompanied by several smaller memorials and the flags of America, West Virginia, and the POW flag. The memorials are visible passing by from either MacCorkle Avenue or 3rd Avenue, and also have multiple more detailed features upon closer inspection. The memorial was officially dedicated in 2003.
DOW Chemical founded in 1897 by Herbert H. Dow, is one of the leading forces in the manufacturing of chemicals, plastics, synthetic fibers, and agricultural products. This location was acquired from the Union Carbide buy out in 1999, following the incidents of the Bhopal Disaster. The company continued on its own until a merger between Dow and Dupont in August of 2017. DowDupont continued until April of 2019 when the companies split into separate entities once more.
In the first two decades of the 1900s, advancements in industrial manufacture and the growing demand for automobiles set the stage for a revolution in synthetic materials. A new industrial powerhouse soon emerged: Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation (later shortened to Union Carbide), which resulted from the merger of five different companies that shared a need for carbon and calcium carbide in the products they made for other industrial manufacturers. After beginning with a small refinery in Clendenin, West Virginia, UCCC acquired land along the Kanawha River in South Charleston in 1925 and began 50 years of exponential growth. Before a decline in the 1980s, Union Carbide was one of the United States' ten most profitable companies, with 80,000 workers worldwide at more than 100 plants. Their headquarters remained in South Charleston until Dow Chemical purchased the company in 2001 amid legal woes and declining profits. Dow maintains a large plant on the original Union Carbide site, though some properties have been sold or demolished, most notably the engineering headquarters in Building 82 across MacCorkle Avenue from the main campus, destroyed with dynamite in 2009.
The Blue Star Vietnam Memorial is a war monument located in South Charleston, WV. The memorial includes three stone monuments, the flags of West Virginia, America, and the POW flag, and a description of the memorial. The monuments are directly adjacent to the local Adena Indian Mound and are visible from Route 60, a main road. The monuments honor soldiers from the local area who died in the war.
From 1907 to 1917, Banner Window Glass Company and the Belgian immigrants who founded it were instrumental in the development of South Charleston. Prior to the Belgians' relocation from a factory in Indiana, former West Virginia governor William MacCorkle's land investment along the banks of the Kanawha River had lain mostly empty. Luring the hardworking glassmakers to Kanawha County with the promise of free land and two-years' worth of natural gas for their new factory. The glassmakers' arrival spurred the development of the city and set South Charleston on the path to industrialization.
South Charleston was named for its location on the south bank of the Kanawha River, bloew the mouth of Elk River opposite the city of Charleston. Kanawha Land Company formed the city by combining three farms and securing titles to approximately 2,000 acres in 1906. Dunkirk Glass Company was one of the first companies to relocate to South Charleston for its fine resources that it provided. In 1907 Dunkirk established a factory and devoted its plant to the production of pressed and blown decorative glass.
In South Charleston, West Virginia is the second largest Native American burial mound in the state. The mound stands 33 feet tall and 157 feet in diameter in the center of a small park in the city. The mound was built by the Adena Culture sometime between 1000 and 200 B.C. Once a part of a more elaborate earthwork complex, the mound was excavated in 1883 by Col. P. W. Norris working for the Smithsonian Institution. Norris excavated numerous burials within the mound including the main burial chamber in which were buried 11 individuals. Today the mound is situated in a small park where visitors can see the mound and read more about it and the Adena peoples who constructed it.
Built to provide crucial housing for workers at the new U.S. Naval Ordnance Plant when it began construction in 1917, Armor Park was designed as a self-sufficient township, complete with its own school (run by the U.S. Navy), recreation center, pool, and sports fields. The U.S. government also paved nearby roads and purchased additional trolley cars to cut commuting time into Charleston across the river. Workers lived within walking distance of the Ordnance Plant as it churned out naval weapons around the clock during World War II. For decades, Armor Park (and its sister development, Bungalow Park) helped spur the growth of South Charleston until it was demolished for the Riverwalk Plaza Mall and other economic projects. Nothing remains of the site today, but a short walk reveals its relationship to the Ordnance Plant (which still stands) and the development of South Charleston's identity.
Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston is named after Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr. Thomas was in the Army Air Corps, but later voluntarily transferred to the Marines because many of his friends were Marines. All through life, Thomas excelled in everything he did; from football, school, and finally the military. As a sergeant in the military, he led his squad through Bougainville in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. Thomas saved the lives of all the men in his squad by hurling himself on to a grenade. "He was the first West Virginian awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II".
Spring Hill Pastry Shop has been family owned and run for over 65 years in Charleston, WV since 1948. The bakery makes all items from scratch every single day. When they were first opened they made 12 dozen pastries a day. Currently, they make 150 dozen a day. The owner created the original ‘hot dog’ pastry that has since been a crowd favorite. Customers line the sidewalks to get to their pastries at the family friendly Spring Hill Pastry Shop.
Built in 1846, Morgan’s Kitchen is a typical of log structures used during its period. It was originally located at Morgan’s Plantation near the present John Amos Power Plant. It was used to serve meals as well as serving as a hospital to the wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War at the battle of Scary Creek nearby. Now the structure is a museum, operated by the St. Albans Historical Society.
Ordnance Park was built in 1941 to provide housing for a growing population of wartime workers in West Virginia's Kanawha Valley. As part of the Navy's new low-cost defense housing program, the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks was responsible for overseeing its construction. The development could house up to 450 families after completion, with priority initially being given to workers and their families employed at the Naval Ordnance Plant 7.5 miles away in South Charleston. Police and firefighting services were supplied by the Ordnance Plant's Marine garrison until after the war, when rentals were discontinued and the houses were sold to returning veterans. Many of the original duplexes remain, and many more have simply undergone structural modifications, leaving Ordnance Park as a unique window into defense housing projects of the era.
There are two bronze monuments honoring the soldiers of St. Albans, WV. Both are located in the Ordnance Park Housing area that during WWII housed workers for the Naval Ordnance Plant nearby. Both markers are located in the "triangle" area at Pfaff Street and Grant Avenue. One marker list the names of the St. Albans Soldiers killed in WWI, WWII , Korea and Vietnam. The second marker, adjacent to the first, honors Robert Cox, a Medal of Honor recipient.
St. Albans Archaeological Site was discovered in 1963 when Samuel D. Kessell found artifacts on the Kanawha River bank. This site along the Kanawha River shows that Native Americans lived here in 7,900 B.C. This is one of the oldest recorded sites in North America. It has been said to be the oldest continuously inhabited area in North America. Charcoal was found 45’ deep. Someone has lived here continuously for ten thousand years.
October 14, 1947: pilot Chuck Yeager becomes the first pilot to break the sound barrier at a speed of 700 mph (Mach 1.06). The innovative Bell XS-1 with its rocket-powered engines propelled the West Virginia born pilot to a height of 43,000 feet where he became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Years later, in December of 1953, Yeager topped the new record by flying at 1650 mph, twice the speed of sound. This monument stands to honor his achievement on that day in 1947.
George Washington owned thousands of acres of land in what would become West Virginia. Much of the land he claimed was a result of bounties granted due to his service for Virginia and the British military in the French & Indian War. The land encompassing present-day St. Albans, WV was a 2,000 acre tract of land granted to Washington by Governor Benjamin Harrison in 1784 due to Washington buying the claim from another veteran. Washington was also granted land on the other side of the river (Dunbar). These two tracts were part of a set of land holdings that Washington called his Kanawha tracts.
The Saint Albans Roadside Park was constructed in 1948 and offers a great combination of recreation and history in one convenient location for the citizens of the community. The lower boat dock and parking area was once the city base/soft ball field for city leagues. With several historical markers located in the park, visitors can be connected with the history of Saint Albans while they enjoy their time outdoors. A marker telling of George Washington’s connection to the city, a marker dedicated to the old Saint Albans – Nitro Bridge (1934-2013), a monument honoring Chuck Yeager, and a new Rosie the Riveter Memorial Park are all located within Roadside Park.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Depot was built in 1906 and located along one of the city's original brick streets. The numerous tall windows, high ceilings, and extended overhangs on the roof make this one of the more architecturally detailed depots in West Virginia. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Collis P. Huntington brought the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad to St. Albans and the city's first depot was built in 1871 on Fifth Street near a ferry that served cargo and passengers alike. The construction of a railroad bridge in 1907 led to the C&O Depot being moved and rebuilt on 4th Avenue in St. Albans. As passenger service declined in the 1950s, the C&O railroad reduced service between Huntington and Charleston as more residents and travelers preferred to travel by bus or personal automobile. The railroad discontinued service at this depot in 1963 but local residents have worked to preserve the building.
The Saint Albans–Nitro Bridge, now named the Richard J. “Dick” Henderson Memorial Bridge, was built in 1934. Since its opening, the bridge has connected the two communities of Nitro and Saint Albans, allowing the cities to grow together and providing a vital link between WV Route 25 and US Route 60 for residents of the area. Deteriorating conditions caused the original bridge to be torn down and replaced in 2013. At the time of its demolition, the 80-year-old structure was the oldest cantilever bridge over the entire Kanawha River.
Dedicated in 1974, this historical marker commemorates Fort Tackett, a small frontier defense that was built by settlers in the late 1780s. The fort was initially built Lewis Tackett and his family members. The fort was later destroyed by Shawnee Indians in a raid in 1790 that also resulted in six prisoners being captured and transported hundreds of miles away. The small stockade was originally built about two miles south of present-day St. Albans.
Between 1829 and 1916, this location was home to the Valcoulon Mansion which was built by Colonel John Lewis. The site was later home to Camp Tompkins, a short-lived camp for Confederate soldiers in 1861 that was soon occupied by a Union camp following the Battle of Scary Creek. During the time the Union occupied the site, Ellen Tompkins and the Tompkins children still resided in the house and may have passed intel to Confederate partisans via third parties with the order to burn messages after reading. As a result, it is difficult to confirm or reject such reports. In 1916 the mansion was razed and the Rossler & Hasslacher Chemical Company built their facility here. The location was later the home of the Valley Drive-in theater before being acquired by 84 Lumber which still occupies the space today.
Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey (1742-1825) was a scout and messenger during the Revolutionary War. Known as “Mad Anne,” she is an important figure and legend of the early years of white settlement in the Kanawha Valley. Anne’s acts of bravery and heroism were unusual of women at the time. While the truth of Anne Bailey’s most famous exploits are disputed, her services to the western Virginia frontier were invaluable.
On April 28, 1863, Confederate forces, under Brigadier-General Albert G. Jenkins, leaving from Hamlin, WV on their way to Pt. Pleasant, WV to attack a large federal fort located there, skirmished with Federal troops at Hurricane Bridge. Camped on the west side of Hurricane Creek was the 13th (West) Virginia Volunteer Infantry under Colonel W. R. Brown. After five hours of firing from both sides, Gen. Jenkins withdrew from the fighting and continued up Hurricane Creek Road to the Kanawha River.
Culloden Elementary School, formally Culloden School, opened its doors in 1933 at the current site. The school started as a single story four room schoolhouse teaching first through eighth graders. Through the years, additions were made to the original building until, in 2014, the front half of the school was demolished to make way for a much needed renovation. Today Culloden Elementary School continues to teach students in preschool thru 5th grade as a West Virginia School of Excellence.
Sampson Sanders sister, Hetty married Thomas Kilgore. Hetty's children were heirs to Sampson Sanders fortune. Although Hetty received some items from her mother's will, no slaves were received nor manumitted by Kilgore.
The James River and Kanawha Turnpike began as the Virginia State Road, created to connect eastern Virginia to her possessions west of the Appalachian Mountains. Originally conceived by George Washington, the road reached the Ohio River in the 1790s and continued westward to Lexington in central Kentucky, then part of Virginia.
The survey of the township of Milton began here in 1872. The township's founder, David Harshbarger, later built his residence on this lot of land. Named for Milton Reese, a large landowner as well as the town's first postmaster, Milton became an incorporated town in 1876 with Captain J.R. Burke as its first mayor.
This static display of historic military equipment includes a F-86 D Interceptor that was donated to the town of Milton by the Air Force for the purpose of a static display. The F-86 was used by 36 different countries and was used heavily during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Next to the F-86 is a 5"/25 MK 40 wet mount gun designed by The Bureau of Ordnance in 1942 and used by naval ships in World War II. W. The gun has a range of a little over 14,000 yards when fully elevated at 40 degrees and was able to be depressed to a minimum of -10 degrees. When completed assembled the gun weighed a total of 14,000 pounds.
Martha Sanders, the widow of William Sanders, settled on Mud River when the region was still in Kanawha County, VA. As her son Sampson's guardian, Martha purchased land in Cabell County and was the richest woman in the area. She lived out her life on the farm lying on both Mud River and the James River Turnpike as was buried on the hill overlooking the old home site.
In the 1840s, Sampson Sanders decided that he wanted to manumit every one of his 51 slaves and also provide money, equipment, and land in Cass County, Michigan so that they might truly become free. The decision required years of planning and cost Sanders most of his substantial fortune. This gravestone marks the final resting place of Sampson Sanders.
This Historic Cemetery is the burial site for William Jennings Bryan's grandparents and it has stone marked slave burials. Some slaves from local owner and CSA cavalry general Albert Jenkins are said to be buried in this cemetery.
Organized in 1807, the Mud River Baptist Church is the 20th oldest church in West Virginia and the second oldest in Cabell County. Due to the growing population in the church expected growth from the beginning. What had started out as a one-room building now stands with many expansions added on through the years. Had a family nearby not given the land this church would not hold all the history it currently possesses.
Situated at the current junction of US 60 and Blue Sulphur Road in Cabell County, West Virginia the Blue Sulphur Hotel was a late corner to the age of health spring resorts and the only such resort in Cabell County.
Woody Williams was 21 years old when his Marine commanders at Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1945 (the same day that the U.S. flag was raised at Mt. Suribachi) asked him if he could take out Japanese pillboxes with a flamethrower. Woody’s reply was, “I’ll try.” Four riflemen were given to protect him as he took out pillboxes armed only with a flamethrower. In four hours, he had cleared seven of them. Later that year, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Created in the late 1950s by local Boy Scouts, the Kanawha Trace Trail offers hiking and an opportunity to experience how many of the first settlers of European descent carried goods to the river to participate in the larger trade market. The trail connects Frazier's Bottom to the confluence of the Mud and Guyandotte Rivers, a span that covers 31.7 miles. The trail is maintained by volunteers and is possible thanks to the cooperation of property owners througout a three county area. The trail follows a route that dates back to the 1800s when flatboat traders and others carried goods to the river. The trail opened to the public with a dedication ceremony in 1962 and extends through Cabell and Mason Counties, following the Kanawha Valley.
These two adjacent homes in Cabell County were owned by two men who fought in the Civil War. One of the men served the Union and the other supported the Confedacy. Both of these men were killed during the Civil War. However, they were not killed in battle, but rather both were murdered in their homes.
Guyan County Club dates back to 1922 and has endured two significant fires that damaged the structures over the years but did not lead to a decline in membership. Guyan was open during the time when most private clubs drew the color line accepted only white members for its first four decades. When the PGA desegregated in the 1960s, Guyan also ended its policy of racial discrimination, as did many other private country clubs in the area. The club has held a variety of state and regional tournaments and has welcomed leading golfers at a number of events through the years.
Located just east of Huntington on Route 60, the East Drive-In Theater was the largest drive-in in the Tri-State. The theater, which was opened in 1950 by the Greater Huntington Theater Corporation, had room for over one thousand cars, along with a concession stand and a playground. The East enjoyed great success during the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when over four thousand drive-ins were built across the United States. By the 1970s and 1980s, however, business at the East began to decline with the introduction of VHS, cable TV, and multiplex movie theaters, as well as the downsizing of cars. In 1993, the East Drive-In closed and was quickly demolished to make way for a Walmart. Today, the site of the former theater is home to a medical mall, and only a handful of drive-ins remain in West Virginia.
The West Virginia Colored Children's Home was built between 1922 and 1923 and was demolished in 2011. The structure served as a school and orphanage for African American children until 1956. The land and property was later utilized as a home for the elderly and as student housing for Marshall University. The West Virginia Colored Children’s Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Despite efforts of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the building was demolished in 2011 by the Cabell County Board of Education to build a new middle school.
A leader in the research and development of nickel alloys, Huntington’s Special Metals facility, commonly referred to as simply the “nickel plant,” has engineered and processed nickel products since it first opened in 1922. The plant began as a facility of the International Nickel Company (INCO), which dominated the American nickel market for much of the early twentieth century. The $3.5 million, 130-acre facility was to be a fully integrated nickel processing mill, with melting, refinery, rolling capabilities, along with laboratories for research and development. The nickel plant soon became a fixture of the Huntington area, through the conflicts and technological changes of the twentieth century. In 1998, INCO was acquired by the Special Metals Corporation, which continues to operate the nickel plant today. While the plant remains in operation, it has recently drawn attention for its role in nuclear development, as it was the site of the Huntington Pilot Plant, which processed radioactive nickel from 1951 to 1978.
The Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH), an expanding pedestrian and bicycle trail through the City of Huntington and its surrounding neighborhoods, provides wide-spread recreational spaces for people of all ages to enjoy.
Frank Lucente and Rocco Muriale opened Sam’s Hot Dog Stand in Huntington, West Virginia in 1983. While growing up in Fairmont, West Virginia, Lucente had become fond of the spicy chili dogs sold at a local hot dog stand. After it closed, Lucente asked the former owner for the hot dog sauce recipe but was denied. Fortunately, an elderly woman in town gave Lucente the original recipe, which he and Muriale spent six months perfecting before they opened their stand. Sam’s Hot Dog Stand was a quick success, and the partners went on to open four other locations before they parted ways in 1989. Lucente, who relocated to Virginia, then began franchising his stores. Today there are over forty Sam’s Hot Dog Stands throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Wiggins Bar-B-Q was popular among the residents of Huntington, West Virginia for many years. Customers could choose from two different locations: one on Fifth Avenue across from Huntington East High School, and the other on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Sixteenth Street. Ralph Wiggins opened the Fifth Avenue Wiggins between 1949 and 1951, while Dave Freeman obtained permission to open a second Wiggins in 1957. Both restaurants quickly became local favorites, particularly among East High and Marshall students, and offered popular items like spaghetti, burgers, and milkshakes. The Fifth Avenue Wiggins was open until the mid-1980s, and the Sixteenth Street location remained in business until 1995. For several years, some of Wiggins’ popular recipes continued to be served at Wiggins Central City at Madison Avenue and West Fourteenth Street, and at Tascali’s on U.S. 60 East. Today, both restaurants are now closed, and the two Wiggins Bar-B-Q buildings have been demolished.
Huntington East High School served thousands of students over the more than fifty years between its construction in 1940 and the school's closing in 1996. The school was built in response to overcrowding at the old Huntington High School, which had become so severe that students had to attend in shifts. The need for two large high schools reflected Huntington’s dramatic rise in population during the early twentieth century and stood in contrast to the city’s first high school classes which were held in the prayer meeting room of a local church. After Huntington East High opened on September 26, 1940, several additions were made to the school as the student population grew and the building aged. Over those years, the Huntington East “Highlanders” became rivals with the Huntington High “Pony Express” both on and off the playing field. In 1996, the two schools were consolidated when the new Huntington High School opened. After the move, the Cabell County Board of Education relocated its offices in the former Huntington East High School.
Constructed in 1950, the Veterans Memorial Field House was once the premier sports arena and event center for the Huntington area. For decades, the venue hosted most of the city's major concerts, fundraisers, and sporting events, and notably served as the home arena for Marshall University’s basketball team until the Henderson Center opened in 1981. Despite the number and frequency of events held at the Field House, the arena had several financial and logistical problems that contributed to its decline. After the construction of the Henderson Center and the Huntington Civic Center (now Mountain Health Arena), the Field House became increasingly obsolete. Although smaller-scale sporting and other events continued to be held, the venue’s usefulness did not outweigh the cost of much-needed repairs. In 2011, Marshall University acquired the property and demolished the 65-year-old arena. The location of the Veterans Memorial Field House is now the site of Marshall’s soccer stadium.
Now famous for its root beer and hot dogs, Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs was founded by John and Gertrude Mandt in 1932. The little orange hot dog stand, which was the first drive-in restaurant in Huntington, began with a simple menu that offered only popcorn and root beer. When the Mandts added hot dogs topped with Gertrude Mandt’s special chili sauce, the business began to prosper. From the difficulties of the Great Depression to rationing during the Second World War, Stewart’s survived adversity to grow into a business with multiple locations throughout the region, a catering division, and worldwide shipping of their products. Over the years, the business has stayed in the same family, and is currently managed by fourth-generation owner John Mandt Jr. In a region known for hot dog stands, Stewart’s Original helped to build a local culinary tradition that continues to be important to residents of the city and beyond.
Located on the north side of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-Fourth Street, Standard Ultramarine & Color Company was once one of Huntington’s largest industrial plants. The company was founded by Omar T. Frick in 1909 and was originally based in Tiffin, Ohio. In response to a damaging flood and Ohio’s high natural gas prices, Frick and his business partner, French engineer Henri Dourif, moved their company to Huntington in 1912. There, Standard Ultramarine rapidly grew from a modest half-acre facility into a sprawling twenty-acre plant that employed over five hundred people and produced a wide range of pigments. After Frick passed away in 1949, Dourif served as president of Standard Ultramarine until his retirement in 1964. Over the following years, the Standard Ultramarine plant changed hands several times, until Flint Group Pigments announced that the facility would be shut down in 2017. The property was purchased by the Huntington Municipal Development Authority in 2018 and sold to Marshall University in 2019. The former Standard Ultramarine plant is now the site of the future Thundering Herd baseball stadium, which is scheduled for completion in 2021.
Located along Third Avenue, at the edge of Huntington’s former ACF Industries plant, a small monument honors the employees of the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) who served in World War I. Established in 1872 as Ensign Manufacturing Company, the factory merged with ACF in 1899 and quickly grew into one of the city’s largest employers. During the First World War, the plant shifted production to manufacture equipment to support the war effort, and 106 of its employees left to serve in the military. Of those, two did not return home: John L. Callicoat and Charles E. Dement. Following the war, ACF erected a monument listing the names of its employees who had fought overseas. Today, the monument sits relatively unnoticed, as the ACF factory has shut down and the city of Huntington plans to redevelop the area.
Established in 1872 by William Barnum, Ely Ensign, and Collis P. Huntington, Ensign Manufacturing Company was one of Huntington’s earliest industries. The factory initially produced iron parts such as railroad car wheels, before it began to manufacture wooden freight cars in the early 1880s. By 1895, the company was manufacturing more than four thousand cars per year and selling much of its inventory to the Chesapeake and Ohio, Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. Ely Ensign became a prominent local figure in early Huntington, serving as a longtime City Council member and mayor in 1896. In 1899, Ensign Manufacturing Company became one of thirteen car builders consolidated into the American Car & Foundry Company (ACF). After the merger, freight car production continued at the former Ensign plant, which produced its first all-steel cars in 1905 and began manufacturing Center-Flow hopper cars from the 1960s on. By the early 2000s, however, business had slowed and most of the plant’s workers had been let go. The factory sat mostly idle for several years, as plans were developed to remake that area into the Huntington Brownfields Innovation Zone. The Huntington Municipal Development Authority agreed to purchase the ACF Industries complex in June 2019.
The southwest corner of Third Avenue and Twenty-Second Street was once home to one of early Huntington’s lesser-known hotels, the Hotel Arthur. The building that housed the hotel was constructed in 1875 as a public school for the surrounding area’s population. Although the school was expanded in 1885, the facility eventually proved too small and was replaced by the nearby Ensign Elementary School in 1904. Around 1908, the building was purchased and converted into a hotel, known variously as the Arthur Emmons Hotel and the Hotel Arthur, by prominent local figure Arthur S. Emmons. Emmons was the son of Delos W. Emmons, who was the brother-in-law and business partner of Collis P. Huntington and had overseen the sale of the city’s first lots. The Hotel Arthur was closed by 1940 and had been converted into storefronts and a warehouse space by the 1950s. Currently, the site of the former hotel is occupied by Marshall University’s Robert L. “Bobby” Pruett Training Complex, which was dedicated in 2006.
Located at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Twenty-First Street, Ensign Elementary School served students in its East Huntington neighborhood for almost eighty years. Completed in 1904, Ensign Elementary was built to replace another school located at the corner of Third Avenue and Twenty-Second Street. The older school, which was built in 1875, had become too small to accommodate the city’s rapidly growing population. Ensign Elementary was named in honor of Ely Ensign, one of early Huntington’s most prominent business and civic leaders. Ensign was the founder of Ensign Manufacturing Company (later ACF Industries) as well as a longtime city councilman and mayor in 1896. The new school, to which an eastern wing was added in 1907, was an impressive stone and brick building with eight well-lit classrooms. Ensign Elementary was closed in 1981 and demolished a few years later to make way for Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which was completed in 1991.
Joan C. Edwards Stadium is the current football stadium for the Marshall University Thundering Herd. The $30 million stadium opened in 1991 and replaced the old Fairfield Stadium that was in use from 1928 to 1990. The Joan C. Edwards Stadium has hosted seven I-AA NCAA National Championships and five Mid-American Conference Championships, and is one of two Division I NCAA Football stadiums that are named after women. It contains seating for around 38,000 people, as well as twenty indoor sky suites.The Shewey Athletics Building is connected to the stadium and houses athletic offices.
The Marshall University Recreation Center opened in 2009. Built as part of a redevelopment plan for the eastern part of campus, the center stands at the site of the former Twentieth Street Baptist Church. The church was established in 1892; its final sanctuary on the property was built in 1926 and lasted until 2006 when Marshall purchased and razed it. The Recreation Center is equipped with a swimming pool, a 1/7 mile running track, a racquetball area, and a wall climbing area. Prior to the establishment of this rec center in 2009, Marshall University students exercised in parts of of Gullickson Hall and the Cam Henderson Center.
The Cam Henderson Center is the home of the Thundering Herd basketball, volleyball, swimming, and diving programs. The complex was constructed in 1981 during a building boom on Marshall's campus. It is named in honor of legendary Marshall basketball coach Cam Henderson (1890-1956), one of the most successful coaches in the school's history. The Center allowed Marshall's basketball team to play on campus rather than at the Memorial Field House, and it provided new space for student recreational activities. The basketball arena is notable for being the site of the world's longest recorded college basketball shot, thrown by Bruce Morris on February 7, 1985. In addition to the arena, the Center also houses the Frederick A. Fitch Natatorium, named after a longtime chairman of the Physical Education Department.
Gullickson Hall was built in 1961 to accommodate a growing student population. It originally housed physical education classrooms, facilities for sports teams to practice, and space for intramural and recreational activities. Originally called the Men's Health and Physical Education Building, the structure was renamed in 1964 after former physical education professor Otto A. "Swede" Gullickson. Gullickson worked at Marshall for over 30 years, overseeing the development of the school's intramural program into one of the largest in the nation.Today Gullickson Hall is attached to the adjacent Cam Henderson Center, and it is home to the Marshall ROTC program.
The John Deaver Drinko Library has been the primary library on campus since it opened in 1998. It stands at the former site of the College of Science Building, Northcott Hall (1915-1995), which was demolished to make room for the new library. Campus officials developed plans for a new library throughout the 1990s as a way to both replace the older Morrow Library and provide new technological and multimedia opportunities to students. It was named in honor of prominent attorney John Deaver Drinko, the largest donor for the library project. Drinko gives Marshall students a place to study, collaborate with peers, utilize computers and access thousands of books, journals, and electronic materials. The library today contains over 180,000 books and other materials, reading and study areas, high-speed Internet and computers, presentation rooms, IT services, a cafe, and a 24/7 computer lab.
The headquarters of the Appalachian Studies Association is located in the basement of Old Main on the Marshall Campus. The ASA is an organization of scholars and activists who share an interest in the study of Appalachia, including the history and culture of the region. The organization dates back to a meeting held in 1977 by a group of scholars from the region. In addition to sharing their research with one another, these scholars joined with regional activists and educators to create a permanent organization that would support research and education on topics related to the history and culture of the region. The Appalachian Studies Association also supports those who study contemporary issues facing the region and efforts to improve communication between Appalachian residents and other organizations throughout the region. The organization hosts an annual academic conference, publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Appalachian Studies, and serves as a conduit for scholars and activists to communicate with each other.
This eight-foot statue of John Marshall outside of the John Deaver Drinko Library was dedicated in 1998. The monument features a six-foot base engraved with the words "Revolutionary Soldier," "Definer of the Constitution," and "Devoted Husband and Father." John Marshall served in the Revolutionary War, explored and surveyed western Virginia, and shaped the federal judiciary while serving as the fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall was appointed Chief Justice on January 27, 1801, and he served until his death in 1835. Most historians agree that John Marshall was one of the most influential leaders of the early republic. More than any other individual in American history, John Marshall shaped the interpretation of the Constitution and established the Judicial Branch as an independent and equal branch of government.
Corbly Hall is the home of Marshall University's internationally accredited Lewis College of Business as well as the English and Economics Departments. When the four story building was dedicated in November 1980, it was the largest academic building in the West Virginia state system of higher education. It includes some of the largest lecture halls on campus, one of which holds up to 150 people. The facility is named after Lawrence J. Corbly (1862-1935) who served as the last principal and first president of Marshall College from 1896 until 1915. Corbly made significant improvements to Marshall during his tenure, including growing the student body and increasing the quality of the school's curriculum.
Now the central administration building for Marshall University, Old Main dates back to 1838 with the construction of a small, four-room brick building to house Marshall Academy. The original structure was expanded with the addition of new sections in 1856, 1870, and 1896. The 1838 and 1856 portions were demolished in 1898 to allow for the construction of a much larger building that reflected Marshall and Huntington's growth. The final, major addition to Old Main was the distinct, Gothic section built on the western side in 1907. Old Main originally housed various facilities for Marshall including dormitories, classrooms, a library, auditorium, dining hall, and chapel. Today it is home to administrative offices and spaces for certain organizations. Old Main was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Designed by artist Harry Bertoia and dedicated in 1972, this fountain pays tribute to the victims of the 1970 Marshall University Plane Crash and the resilience of the university community. Built of welded copper and bronze tubes, the fountain is meant to represent life and upward growth. It stands in the middle of the Memorial Student Center plaza and serves as one of the major landmarks on campus. Marshall holds a memorial ceremony here each year on November 14, the anniversary of the crash. During the ceremony, the fountain is turned off in remembrance of the 75 who perished that day. The two audio files embedded within this entry include portions of speeches given at the dedication of the fountain and reflections from members of the Marshall University community.
The Marshall University Memorial Student Center opened in 1971 to provide students with a place to socialize, rest, and study on campus. It replaced an older facility, the Shawkey Student Union, that had been in use since 1933. The MSC was named in honor of the victims of the November 14, 1970 plane crash and serves as a living memorial. Today it houses a food court, lounge areas, the campus bookstore, a recreational area, various offices, and several meeting rooms, dining halls, and event spaces.
The Erickson Alumni Center serves as the headquarters of the Marshall University Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit, alumni organization established in 1947 and works to provide financial support for Marshall University. The Center is named after businessman Charlie O. Erickson, who funded the creation of alumni centers at numerous colleges across West Virginia. In 2010 the Center moved into the newly-constructed Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall. It is named after prominent businessman, Marshall graduate, and donor Brad D. Smith, who has contributed millions of dollars to various projects at Marshall. The foundation hall houses offices and alumni facilities, as well as space for lectures, receptions, and private events.
Smith Hall is an academic complex that consists of Stewart Smith Hall, Evelyn Hollberg Smith Music Hall, the Birke Art Gallery, and the Communications Building. The building opened in 1967 and replaced a former naval barracks that acted as temporary classrooms. Smith Hall is named after popular longtime Marshall President Stewart H. Smith, who served from 1946 to 1968. Today the facility is utilized for many general education classes. It is home to many College of Liberal Arts and College of Arts and Media Departments, including the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the School of Music. Smith Hall also contains a student lounge, cafe, speech clinic, offices for The Parthenon, and the WMUL radio station.
Morrow Library was named after former University President, James E. Morrow, and was completed in 1931 to replace the original library on the second floor of Old Main. When the library first opened, it housed study areas and Marshall’s art school. In 1965, a project began to expand the library and added the stacks towers along with wraparound additions to the side and back of the building. During this renovation, the main study hall was split into two floors, and was completed in 1967. In 1998, the John Deaver Drinko Library opened and became Marshall’s main library. However, Morrow continued to serve Marshall by housing the University Special Collections. Today the library is home to a variety of collections and the university’s more rare and valuable books. Some of Morrow’s major collections are the Rosanna Blake Civil War Collection, the Hoffman Medical Science collection, and the Chuck Yeager Collection.
Colonial Virginia (including both the states of Virginia and West Virginia today) had a vast territory and its leaders recognized there had to be a totally Virginia route to connect the eastern section to its western territory. The James River and Kanawha Turnpike was surveyed by Washington up the James River and across the mountains to connect Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River.
Located at the corner of Third Avenue and Hal Greer Boulevard, Calamity Cafe was popular among Huntington locals for over a decade. The cafe, which opened for business in 1992, was owned and operated by Terre Thomas and Roy Clark. The cafe featured a Southwestern-themed menu, with popular items like Black Goddess Earth Pasta and cheese soup. Calamity Cafe was best-known as a popular venue for local musicians, artists, and poets. However, this evening portion of Calamity’s business declined following a 2004 ordinance banning smoking in Cabell County restaurants. While bars and night clubs continued to permit smoking until a new ordinance in 2010 expanded the ban, Calamity Cafe's owners found their status as a restaurant prohibitive and they closed the business in 2005. Various establishments have occupied the building over the next fourteen years. The most successful of these establishments, Black Sheep Burritos and Brews, also held live music in this space before moving to a larger building in Pulman Square. In September 2019, Calamity J Grill & Bar opened at the location. The restaurant was inspired by the original Calamity Cafe and offers a Southwestern-inspired menu, including some of the cafe’s old menu items.
This historic house at the intersection of 15th Street and 3rd Avenue was designed by J.B. Stewart for Huntington businessman Albert E. Cox in 1896. The Cox family history in Cabell County can be traced back to Albert’s grandfather, William T. Cox, who was the founder of Cox Landing as well as an avid supporter of Prohibition. As its ownership changed hands over the years, the home was repurposed to house apartments and later a popular nightclub, the 1896 Club. The Cox house has endured many natural disasters over the years, from floods to fires, but the structure remains mostly intact today. Although it has now stood empty for over 20 years, the house continues to fascinate the community and may one day be restored.
For many years, Frank’s Sandwich Shop was one of the most popular eateries in Huntington. Originally from Baltimore, chef Frank Volk introduced many customers to submarine sandwiches when he opened his restaurant at 1521 Fourth Avenue in August 1964. The shop quickly became a local favorite, offering popular items like hot dog specials and hand-cut fries alongside the now-legendary steak sandwich with “hots,” a homemade red pepper sauce. Frank’s was especially popular among Marshall University students due to its convenient location and low prices. Later, Volk opened a second shop at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 13th Street, where Graley Autobody's drive-in claim center is now located. Although the restaurant closed during the 1990s and Volk passed away in 2010, Frank’s Sandwich Shop continues to be fondly remembered by its former customers.
For more than fifty years, Ward’s Do-Nuts served the Huntington community its “Deliciously Different Donuts.” The shop was established in 1947 by Paul Ward Sr., who came to Huntington after serving in the army during World War II. Over the following decades, Ward and his family baked and glazed countless donuts out of their small restaurant on Fourth Avenue and Fourteenth Street. Open twenty-four hours a day, Ward’s was a favorite among college students, partiers, and shift workers in need of a donut and a coffee late at night. A second location at First Street and Fourth Avenue also offered a chili that was just as popular as the donuts. Ward decided to close the shop and sell its equipment in 2000. In 2001, the building was acquired by Rocco Muriale, who established a restaurant called Rocco’s Little Italy at the location. Rocco’s Little Italy, which is currently owned by the Kim family, remains a popular lunch spot and a place for late-night Italian food on weekends.
The Blacker House was once owned by the Conaty Family of Huntington, West Virginia. It is a large 5,300 sq.ft. of living space southern mansion that is now occupied by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity of Marshall University. The house has a book written about all of the ghostly experience that Nicole Mulloy and her brothers and sisters had while living in it. The book is called "The Blacker House", and the cover pictures one of the sisters sitting on the front steps of the house. The book is based on the true story of the author. She moved from Maine to Huntington, West Virginia in 1989. She wrote about the acceptance of the community, the adjustment to life in a West Virginia town, and the boy that eventually becomes her husband. The house has a very spooky basement that rooms filled with dirt. It also has a large ballroom on the third floor and five fireplaces.
The Enslow Mansion was one of the most luxurious private homes in early Huntington. Prominent attorney and businessman Frank B. Enslow built the twenty-six room house in 1896 in a neighborhood nicknamed "Millionaire's Row." It was one of the major centers of social life in Huntington in the early 1900s. The mansion became infamous in 1936 when Enslow's widow Juliette Buffington Enslow was found murdered in her bedroom. The murder and subsequent trial of her son Charles Baldwin for the crime was widely publicized and sensationalized. Baldwin was ultimately found not guilty, and the crime remains a mystery. In 1937 R. R. Steele acquired the mansion and converted it into a funeral home. It was destroyed in a fire in 1977.
This Greyhound station has served travelers to and from Huntington, West Virginia since 1953. Greyhound service began in the area in the 1920s, operating out of several different stations over the years, before the current terminal was built. It was designed by George D. Brown in the distinctive Streamline Moderne style. Once a bustling transit center, the building deteriorated over time as business declined. In 1994, the Tri-State Transit Authority (TTA) purchased the property for $200,000. The building currently serves as a station for both TTA and Greyhound.
The "Coin" Harvey House was built in 1874 for William Hope "Coin" Harvey (1851-1963), a leading advocate of monetary reform at the turn-of-the century and a third-party candidate in the Presidential election of 1932. This two story dwelling is similar to some of the historic homes in New Orleans with stained glass windows, a cast iron mantel, and a beamed ceiling in the dining room. This a historic home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In recent years, local residents have worked to restore the historic home, a project that continues to this day.
The Oley School, located on 5th Avenue at 13th Street, was one of Huntington’s first schools. Completed in 1888, the school was named in honor of General John Hunt Oley, a Union officer who moved to Huntington after the Civil War and helped establish the city’s school system. In 1904, Huntington’s first high school was built adjacent to the Oley School. The two school buildings were eventually joined together to form a single large structure. When a new high school was completed in 1916, the original high school was renamed Oley Junior High. Oley Elementary and Oley Junior High served the community for many years, but after the construction of newer buildings, both schools were both closed in 1977 and demolished two years later to make way for a hospital parking lot. The property is currently owned by St. Joseph Catholic High School.
The Emmons Apartments were built by Arthur S. Emmons in 1911. Emmons was the son of a Delos W. Emmons, who was a prominent figure in Huntington and Collis P. Huntington's brother-in-law. The first building became known as Emmons Sr. once the second building, Emmons Jr., was built in 1924, and they quickly became known as luxurious places to live. In 2007, a fire started in the closet of Emmons Jr., quickly spreading and ultimately claiming the lives of nine people. The buildings were damaged and subsequently demolished, and the lot currently remains empty.
Saint Joseph Catholic Church was the first Catholic Church established in the Huntington area in 1872 by Reverend Father Thomas Quirk. In the beginning, the church was temporarily located at 8th Avenue and 20th Street until Father Quirk carefully purchased the land at 6th Avenue and 13th Street after observing that it was not in a flood zone. Education has always been a part of the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, with a parochial school being established along with the church. The church and school have both expanded throughout the years to accommodate the growing congregation and student body. Today, the Saint Joseph Church and School are located along both sides of 6th Avenue, and offer Catechesis and R.C.I.A. classes.
Located at the corner of 4th Avenue and 11th Street, this landmark Huntington high-rise was constructed in the mid-1920s by the Coal Exchange Company. In its early years, the Coal Exchange Bank occupied the ground floor of the building while the upper floors held the company’s offices. During the Great Depression, however, the bank failed and the company filed for bankruptcy. The C&O Railway subsequently purchased the building and housed their engineering offices there for many years. Over the following decades, a number of physicians, dentists, and businesses also rented offices and retail space in the building. A local store, Glenn's Sporting Goods, was located on the ground floor of the Coal Exchange Building for many years before it relocated to its current location on 3rd Avenue. The building was sold in August 2019 to Jay Barta, who plans to renovate the ground level into a commercial space and convert its upper floors to offices or residential spaces.
The Masonic Temple/Watts, Ritter Wholesale Dry Goods Co. building was built in 1914 to provide the Freemasons' Huntington Lodge No. 53 with a permanent location. Most of the building was occupied by the Watts, Ritter Wholesale Dry Goods Co., one of the most successful wholesale businesses in the region until the its closure in 1959. The original building consisted of five floors dedicated to Watts, Ritter and Company, and the top two floors housing the Masonic Temple; an annex was constructed on the right side of the building in 1922 to accommodate the expansion of Watts, Ritter, and Company. In 1990 most of the building was converted into a series of upscale office spaces known as the River Tower. The Masonic Lodge continues to use the top two floors of the western half. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.
Huntington became a city with two sides during Prohibition, with a lively nightlife lurking behind the appearance of a quiet town. Located along 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington, “The Strip” was a popular location where residents could buy liquor, gamble, and go to speakeasies and brothels. Although these activities were illegal, law enforcement rarely disturbed the people and businesses of the Strip due to bribes and payoffs. An interview with William Allen Cross, who served as the manager of several downtown theaters at the time, allows for a glimpse of life during Prohibition and the Strip’s heyday. After Prohibition ended in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, the Strip’s popularity declined once residents were able to purchase alcohol legally.
The State Theater was a movie theater on Fourth Avenue in Huntington, West Virginia. It opened its doors in 1923, becoming one of many other classic cinemas in downtown Huntington. Though the State initially showed first-run movies, it became known primarily for westerns, drawing residents to cowboy double-features every weekend. In 1963, after briefly becoming a venue for live wrestling matches, the former theater was purchased and demolished to make way for a Huntington Trust & Savings bank building. When the bank merged with the First Huntington National Bank, the building sat vacant before being sold to Marshall University. It currently houses the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).
The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that assists the needs of people throughout the United States, and was founded on May 21, 1881 in Washington, D.C., by Clara Barton. The Buford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution established the Huntington Cabell County Chapter of the American Red Cross in 1917. The Huntington Red Cross Canteen began operation on September 9, 1918 in a building at the C & O Railway Station to assist with war efforts. During the year the Canteen was open, it served hundreds of soldiers each day and was one of the best-known and most highly praised Canteen’s in the nation. With the chapter’s continuous growth it soon became apparent that a new and larger building was needed, and on April 21, 1978, the new Red Cross Center at 1111 Veterans Memorial Boulevard was dedicated and opened.
The Roxy Theater was one of several movie theaters located along downtown Huntington’s 4th Avenue. Purchased and renovated in 1933 by C. Bertram Hukle, the Roxy replaced an older theater and offered customers a luxurious movie-going experience at a reasonable cost. The Roxy initially showed first-run movies, but later became known primarily for showing double-features of second-run films. The theater was also notable for its owner’s involvement in a successful lawsuit against an amusement tax levied by the City of Huntington in 1949. In 1952, the Roxy was damaged in a fire and never reopened. The former theater was occupied by various businesses until 1976, when it was demolished and a parking lot was built in its place.
Located at the northeast intersection of Fifth Avenue and Eleventh Street, the Campbell-Hicks House is one of Huntington, West Virginia’s most distinctive Victorian homes. It was built in 1896 for Charles W. Campbell, a lawyer who became involved in local politics and served as the mayor of Huntington from 1919 to 1922. Campbell’s home was designed in the eclectic Queen Anne style, with its rounded turret, stone detailing, and front porch held up by Ionic columns. After Campbell relocated to his native Monroe County in 1924, the house was purchased by Dr. Ira Hicks, a prominent physician and West Virginia state senator. In 1943, the house passed to Dr. Hicks’s daughter, who occupied the house until her death in 1982. The property was briefly owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Huntington before it was sold to local businessman Tom Wolf in 1985. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places that same year. Today, the Campbell-Hicks House stands as one of the few remaining Victorian homes that once lined the streets of downtown Huntington.
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church was founded only one year after the city of Huntington, WV was incorporated. Before establishing a permanent residence in Downtown Huntington, the church rented local spaces to accommodate the congregation, and even met above a saloon for a short period of time. The first location of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church was located where the Herald Dispatch office is today. As a member of the Downtown Churches Association, Fifth Avenue Baptist is dedicated to helping the Huntington community through programs such as Blessings in a Backpack, Helpington, and ALMS.
First Presbyterian Church of Huntington is one of the oldest, grandest, and strongest religious centers in the Huntington area. As one of the most iconic and historical buildings in the whole city, FPC of Huntington has remained a staple and prominent fixture in the culture of the small town. Having been through bitter splits and harsh times since the 1830s, First Presbyterian Church has erected countless foundations in both West Virginia and South America while remaining true to their mission of equality to all regardless of race, gender, orientation, or age. FPC has historically outpaced the times and been far more progressive and accepting throughout the past 150 years. As a epicenter of hope, faith, love, and family, First Presbyterian Church has proven to have a formula to last.
The St. James Building, originally the First National Bank Building, has been a prominent feature of the downtown Huntington skyline since its completion in 1914. Designed by architect Verus T. Ritter, the building was initially occupied by the First National Bank, with office spaces for doctors, lawyers, and other professionals on its upper floors. In 1925, the First National Bank and the Huntington National Bank merged into the First Huntington National Bank (FHNB), prompting a significant expansion of the building. In 1981, the FHNB relocated and the building changed ownership to the Old National Bank of Huntington before being sold in 1987 to the St. James Condominium Association. The First State Bank of Barboursville now operates out of the first floor and luxury apartments occupy the sixth through twelfth floors.
Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House has been a prominent family-owned and operated restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia since 1938. Originally known for its cheap hamburgers and milkshakes, founder Jim Tweel expanded his business by adding a Spaghetti House next door in 1944. The two businesses merged four years later, and the restaurant was remodeled and given its current name in 1962. Tweel’s daughter, Jimmie Tweel Carder, has managed the restaurant since 1994. Jim’s maintains a classic diner theme with its nostalgic atmosphere, green booths, and waitresses’ white uniforms. The restaurant, which is best known for its signature spaghetti sauce and homemade strawberry pie, is frequented not only by Huntington residents but also by celebrities and politicians who visit the Tri-State area. Jim’s celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2018.
Along with the leading downtown department stores, the Huntington Arcade was the premier shopping destination in the Tri-State are from the 1920s until the creation of the Huntington Mall in Barboursville. The neoclassical facility was built in 1925 and housed local retailers on the first floor. The second floor was home to the offices of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Businesses in the Arcade and the rest of downtown Huntington struggled following the opening of the Huntington Mall in the 1980s. After years of high vacancy rates, the building was sold in 2009 and converted into living spaces. The Arcade was re-dubbed The Galleria and opened to tenants in 2014. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
The Day and Night Bank opened on the first floor of a five-story building on the corner of 4th Avenue and 10th Street in downtown Huntington on March 25, 1912. True to its name, the Day and Night Bank distinguished itself by staying open later than other banks in the area. Under president F.L. Whitaker and his successor Frank Enslow, Jr., the bank enjoyed brief success until it surrendered its charter to the Huntington National Bank on December 15, 1919. A series of tenants have since occupied the building, with nTelos being the most recent. As of 2019, the building remains vacant.
The Trinity Episcopal Church was created after Huntington, WV, had already been established as a city, and was spearheaded by an associate of Collis P. Huntington. The original structure was built to be the shape of a cross, and could accommodate 500 people. As the population of Huntington grew, Trinity established a parish house behind the church in the 1920s. Trinity is decorated with stained glass made by Louis C. Tiffany of New York that depicts the seven sacraments. Trinity is deeply connected to the Huntington community, and holds food drives, feeds the homeless, and even allows local non-profit organizations to have offices in the parish house.
This Beaux Arts style building was constructed in 1909 to serve as the hall for Huntington's Elks Lodge 313. The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is a nationwide fraternal organization founded in 1868 to promote patriotism and support charitable causes, including assistance for veterans and youth. The Huntington lodge was organized in 1895 and has a long history of charitable and community involvement in the area. The lodge hall on Fourth Avenue contained recreational facilities, a meeting room, and a restaurant. A decline in membership and mounting building expenses caused the lodge to sell their hall in 2017. It underwent a $1.5 million dollar renovation and opened in 2018 as a luxury apartment complex known as Elk's Luxury Lofts. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
The Orpheum (later Cinema) Theater was a long-time movie theater on 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington. When it opened in 1916, the theater was part of the Orpheum circuit of movie and vaudeville houses, but it was soon purchased by the Hyman family and added to their collection of downtown Huntington theaters. The Orpheum was eventually renamed the Cinema and split into four small theaters, and it became known for showing second-run movies at discounted rates. The Cinema closed its doors in November 2011, becoming the Hymans’ final downtown theater to shut down. The former theater currently houses Redemption Church.
The Keith Albee Theatre, located on 4th Avenue in Huntington, WV, opened in May of 1928 with a seating capacity of 2,720. The theater was originally built as a vaudeville performing center by the Hyman family, who also ran the Orpheum, State, and Huntington Theatres. The Keith Albee was named after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation, one of the leading vaudeville performance chains in the 1920s. When the Keith Albee opened, it was the largest performance theater in West Virginia and was second largest nationally next to the Roxy in New York City. The Keith Albee was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2014. The theater still holds numerous events each year through the Marshall Artist Series.
The Harris Riverfront Park Amphitheater is an Ohio Riverfront venue for local concerts and is available for rent for parties, weddings, shows and other functions. The amphitheater was built in 1983 as the second part of a three-phase project in constructing Harris Riverfront Park, named for David W. Harris, who had been director of Urban Renewal in Huntington. The amphitheater was a longtime outdoor home to Huntington Symphony Orchestra's Picnic With the Pops events and is the venue for several concerts and other gatherings in Huntington; it is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. for a rental fee of $500 per day.
Located along Second Avenue (now Veterans Memorial Boulevard) between Ninth and Eleventh Streets, the Gwinn Brothers Milling Company was a fixture of downtown Huntington for over seventy years. Founded in 1889 by brothers O.E. and W.W. Gwinn, the mill grew into a successful business that produced hundreds of barrels of flour and cornmeal and hundreds of tons of animal feed each day. The youngest Gwinn brother, D.B. Gwinn, gradually took on a greater role in the company and went on to succeed W.W. Gwinn as company president in 1915. Despite undergoing several renovations and expansions over the years, the business was struggling to make ends meet by the end of the Second World War. James A. Gwinn took over after D.B. Gwinn passed away in 1951, and ran the company until his own death in 1961. At that point, the remaining members of the family sold their majority interest and dissolved the company. Martha White Mills briefly took over operations of the grain elevator and flour mill in 1964, but in 1970 the mill was demolished as part of Huntington’s downtown urban renewal project.
Although it was not the first, the flooding of the Ohio River in January of 1937 is the worst recorded flooding of the river in history. This flood drove millions from their homes along the Ohio River Valley and claimed nearly 400 lives. The flood was caused by the thawing of the Ohio River combined with 19 days of pouring rain. The total cost of damages in 1937 was estimated to be $500 million, and today that would be inflated to $7 billion. A flood wall was constructed by the Huntington District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after this devastating flood. The flood wall has not had to have been fully closed since it's construction.
The Emmons-Hawkins Hardware Company was a longtime business in downtown Huntington. It was incorporated in 1899 after undergoing a series of different partnerships and name changes since the store was originally founded by C.F. Parsons in 1871. The company operated for many years as both a retail and wholesale establishment, with salesmen traveling throughout the region, until the retail business was ended in 1941. In 1970, the company went out of business and the building was demolished by the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority. Mack & Dave's, a department store selling new and used goods, operated in its place from 1974 until its closure in 2016. The nearly one-block long building remains vacant as of 2019.
Located at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Tenth Street, the Gideon Building was originally occupied by early Huntington merchant and civic leader Samuel Gideon. Born in Germany, Gideon came to America in 1856 and settled in Huntington in 1872, where he opened the city’s first clothing store. In 1915, Gideon hired Edwin Alger, one of the city's best-known architects, to build a new structure for his store. Following Gideon’s death in 1923, the family sold the store to the W.T. Grant Company, a five and dime store chain that occupied the location until the mid-1970s. In 1978, the Gideon Building became home to Amsbary’s, a clothing store founded in Huntington in 1926, which remained in business there until the late 1980s. During the early 1990s, the Gideon Building became the first historic downtown structure to be restored by the Touma family. Its exterior was restored to its original appearance and its interior was rebuilt to hold modern retail and office spaces. Today, the building houses Sprint Wireless and professional offices for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Offut Nord Burchett PLLC, and State Farm.
The Marshall University Visual Arts Center is home to the School of Art and Design, which includes galleries, classrooms, and labs. It is housed within the historic Anderson-Newcomb building, which for many years was a prominent department store. The building was constructed in 1902 and for decades was one of the premier shopping destinations in downtown Huntington. The store closed in 1996, leaving the building vacant and neglected. It was acquired by Marshall University in 2010, which embarked on a $13 million project to convert it into facilities for the College of Arts and Media. It opened for use in 2014 and was cited as an ideal model for adaptive reuse of historic structures in Huntington. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
Pullman Plaza Hotel is a late modern architecture building completed in 1975, designed by Bryce Cann and David Termohlen (Cann - Termohlen) located in downtown Huntington, West Virginia. The hotel has operated under different titles but has remained a local landmark for 40 years. The hotel has operated as a DoubleTree by Hilton since early 2019, making it the first DoubleTree by Hilton in West Virginia.
Singer Mary Smith McClain was born on August 27, 1902, in Huntington, West Virginia. Living in an abusive environment, Mary left home at the age of 13, hopped a train, and joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in Memphis, Tennessee. From this point on, Mary became known as "Walking Mary," singing for the traveling minstrel show. From the 1920s to the 1940s Mary's career took off and she crisscrossed the country and performed alongside numerous blues and jazz legends. She also toured Europe three times. Mary passed away in 2000, and per her request, her ashes were scattered along the railroad tracks in her hometown of Huntington where she hopped a passing train to pursue her dreams. Mary is one of only a handful of West Virginians who became blues legends. Her career was long, but it wasn’t until she was in her 80s and 90s that she received widespread recognition. In those years, she performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House, and the Apollo Theatre.
Huntington's Burdick-Homrich Building was constructed around 1915 and built at the site of one of the city’s oldest businesses, C.F. Reuschlein’s Jewelry Store. The jewelry business was established by Harry J. Homrich in 1892. The building later housed The Princess Shop, a women’s clothing retailer established in 1921 by David H. Goldberg. Over the years, The Princess Shop became one of downtown Huntington’s leading retailers and played a role in shaping the career of Verna K. Gibson, the first female president of a Fortune 500 company. After The Princess Shop relocated in 1969, the Burdick-Homrich Building went through a succession of owners and this downtown space was often unoccupied. In 2005 the building was purchased and restored by Dr. Joseph B. Touma. Today, the building’s ground floor is home to Huntington's Kitchen, an educational kitchen classroom. Touma’s real estate offices occupy the second floor.
The section of 3rd Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets is the oldest commercial district remaining in the city of Huntington, West Virginia. These structures were established in the late 1890s and the early 1900s, and were home to the premier retailers in Downtown Huntington. Touma Real Estate Holdings, LLC, has historically renovated and preserved the mentioned structures, and has given them new life so that they may continue to serve patrons of Huntington for generations to come. The restoration of this block, along with the addition of Pullman Square, has revitalized Downtown Huntington. All of these structures are included in the Downtown Huntington Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1884 by Benjamin T. Davis, the Davis Opera House is one of the oldest surviving structures in Huntington. The opera house (renamed the Huntington Theater in 1892) presented operas, stage plays, concerts, vaudeville programs, theatrical productions, and minstrel shows. The theater closed in 1928 due to competition from the film industry. Afterwards the building was heavily remodeled and converted into retail space. It became part of a $7 million revitalization project in 2017; today it houses multiple businesses and offices and serves as a successful model of adaptive reuse. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
Built in 1977 as the Huntington Civic Center, the Big Sandy Superstore Arena is a multipurpose facility that seats up to 9,000. The venue hosts a variety of concerts, athletic tournaments, touring exhibits, graduation ceremonies, political rallies, and shows. Next to the arena, the facility offers a 15,000-square-foot conference center that serves as a venue for professional gatherings and private celebrations. The current name of the arena reflects the financial support of sponsor Big Sandy Superstore, a home furnishings retail business that opened its first store near the Big Sandy River in Ashland, Kentucky. The Huntington Civic Center was the largest in the state of West Virginia at the time of its opening in 1977. The facility is located on a five-acre piece of property along the Ohio River and a block from Huntington's downtown retail and restaurant center, Pullman Square, and is managed by SMG.
The Marshall Hall of Fame Café is restaurant and museum dedicated to the sports history of Marshall University. It stands as a memorial to the players, coaches, and fans who died in the tragic plane crash on November 14, 1970. The Hall of Fame Café serves as a museum to all Marshall University sports teams spanning the athletic history of the university. The artifacts and memorabilia are kept well preserved here for the generations to come and for then people of Huntington, West Virginia to learn and admire.
Foster Hardware was one of Huntington’s earliest businesses. In 1871, B.W. Foster purchased a lot on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 9th Street and built a small hardware store. In 1894, he replaced the original structure with a four-story brick and stone building. Foster died in 1922, and his family started the Foster Foundation, which maintained a home for elderly women. Shortly before his death, Foster’s business relocated to a building on 2nd Avenue and was renamed Foster-Thornburg Hardware Co. The business remained successful until it was bought by another company and closed in 1965. Meanwhile, the 3rd Avenue building was occupied by the Huntington Dry Goods Company, later the Huntington Store, until 1982. The building was then renovated into a restaurant space, which currently houses the Marshall Hall of Fame Café.
Located at the southeast corner of 3rd Avenue and 9th Street in the heart of downtown Huntington, the Broh Building is considered the city’s oldest remaining commercial building. It was built in the 1880s by brothers Mike and Julius Broh, who were prominent figures in the city’s early years. The Brohs operated a men’s clothing store out of the building, which was an impressive three-story block in the popular Italianate style. After the brothers dissolved their business around 1904, the building housed various businesses and its exterior underwent several changes. It sat vacant for many years until 2005, when Dr. Joseph Touma purchased it and restored it to its original appearance. Today, the Broh Building houses an AT&T store and a local bakery.
These two spires on Ninth Street serve as a monument to the Huntington & Ohio Highway Bridge. Commonly known as the Sixth Street Bridge, it was constructed in 1925-1926 as the first and for many years the only bridge connecting Huntington to Ohio. There were originally four decorative spires atop the gothic style two-lane bridge. Each spire weighs two tons and is 11.2 feet high. The bridge was closed and demolished in 1995 following the construction of the replacement Robert C. Byrd Bridge. The spires were saved; two were placed on Ninth Street in 2007, while another was placed in Chesapeake, Ohio.
Although it was not the first, the flooding of the Ohio River in January of 1937 is the worst recorded flooding of the river in history. This flood drove millions from their homes along the Ohio River Valley, and claimed nearly 400 lives. The flood was caused from the thawing of the Ohio River combined with 19 days of pouring rain. The total cost of damages in 1937 was estimated to be $500 million, and today that would be inflated to $7 billion. A flood wall was constructed by the Huntington District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after this devastating flood.
The Tipton Theater was a short-lived movie theater on 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington, West Virginia. Built in 1946 at the site of a former theater and bus station, the Tipton was an imposing Art Deco structure with its white stone exterior and 80-foot tower. The new theater was owned by the Hyman brothers, whose Greater Huntington Theater Corporation operated many other theaters in downtown Huntington and beyond, including the Keith Albee. The Tipton enjoyed brief success until disaster struck early on the morning of October 21, 1951, when the theater was all but destroyed in a fire. As the damage was too extensive, the Hymans never rebuilt the theater. The site of the Tipton is now the location of Medical Claims Assistance.
In 2015, Artisans Express was a collaborative public art initiative which featured 42 fiberglass train models on display throughout various parts of the streets of downtown Huntington, West Virginia. Locations for the displays range throughout Fourth and Third Avenues, as well as 10th Street to 7th Street. The art project was organized as a fundraiser that would benefit the Hoop’s Family and Children’s Hospital. The initial goal of the fundraiser was $150,000, but this amount almost doubled by the end of the auction. Today, some trains remain on the streets of downtown Huntington in their original locations and are likely to stay until or beyond the next fundraiser which is planned for 2017. However, other trains have been relocated as per the wish of their new owners; some are on display in other locations/businesses throughout Huntington, WV.
With its Tex-Mex food and bright atmosphere, Chili Willi’s Mexican Cantina was one of Huntington’s most popular restaurants for nearly thirty years. Founded by Ron Smith in 1983, the restaurant began as a small diner located between the Huntington Elks Lodge and the former Orpheum Theater on Fourth Avenue. Chili Willi’s quickly became popular among locals for its award-winning chili and other favorites like Cadillac nachos and ice cream tacos. Even after the restaurant moved to a larger location at 841 Fourth Avenue in 1986, it was not uncommon for customers to wait in line to be served. In August 2005, Chili Willi’s relocated again to 1315 Fourth Avenue, a location that offered yet more seating and a dedicated parking lot. With the onset of the 2008 recession, however, the restaurant began to struggle, declaring bankruptcy in 2009 and closing in 2011. Ron Smith is currently the director of dining services at Woodlands Retirement Community, as well as the founder and coordinator of Huntington’s annual ChiliFest.
Huntington's City Hall was completed in 1915 and reflected the rapid growth and optimism of the city at that time. The Neoclassical building features terra-cotta details, large Corinthian columnns, and an elaborate public auditorium with ornate chandeliers, woodwork, and marble staircases. It was the third city hall built for Huntington, and replaced a structure on Fourth Avenue that also housed the police department, fire department, jail, and county courthouse. City Hall, the Cabell County Courthouse, the Post Office Building (today a federal courthouse), and the Carnegie Public Library were all built between 1899 and 1914 and formed a concentration of governmental and civic architecture in Huntington’s downtown area. City Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
In 1963, members of the Civic Interest Progressives, a civil rights organization led by Marshall students and Huntington community leaders, challenged racial discrimination at local eateries such as Bailey's and the White Pantry Inn. After students waging a sit-in were attacked at the White Pantry, they changed their strategy and held a series of "share-ins." In these protests, liberal white students who wanted to help challenge the color line would enter a restaurant and order a meal. After the meal was delivered, they would invite black students to join them at their table. Although these protests led to the end of Jim Crow at many Huntington restaurants prior to the spring of 1963, the owner of the White Pantry turned violent and attacked one of the black students with a cattle prod. The second video clip below shows a young woman on the ground gasping for air after the owner of the White Pantry Inn lit sulfur cakes to force black students to leave his restaurant.
In Huntington’s early days, several busy hotels were clustered along the downtown portion of Ninth Street. One of these hotels was the Adelphia Hotel, which opened in 1893. The hotel was originally located at the corner of Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue, before it was destroyed by fire on July 2, 1901. After the building burned, the owners decided not to rebuild at that location, and instead relocated the Adelphia to the northwest corner of Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue. Another hotel, the Hotel Huntington, later opened in 1910 at the Adelphia’s original location. The Adelphia Hotel became a familiar part of the downtown landscape over the years, flourishing during the city’s early twentieth-century heyday and even surviving a fire on Christmas Day of 1950. By the 1950s, however, the Adelphia had become a primarily residential hotel, and shut its doors not long after. The hotel was demolished in 1977 to make way for construction of the Cabell County Public Library.
Bailey’s Cafeteria earned a reputation as one of the best eateries in Huntington, West Virginia at the turn of the century. The popular restaurant was established in 1934 and remained open for six decades. To this day, many residents recall the restaurant with fondness, but prior to 1963, the restaurant was not open to all residents of the state. Members of the Civic Interest Progressives, a local civil rights organization established to challenge segregation, launched sit-in protests against Bailey's and several other Huntington restaurants in the spring of 1963. On May 1, 1963. The owners of Bailey’s Cafeteria then filed a court order against the protesters to stop the picketing in front of the restaurant. This attempt to use the courts to squelch the protest backfired and the more students and community members joined the protest. Hoping to end the demonstration, the owner reluctantly agreed to end segregation at Bailey’s. With this decision, several other restaurants followed suit and the Civic Interest Progressives focussed their efforts on the remaining establishments.
The United States Post Office and Court House is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in Huntington. As Huntington grew rapidly in the decades after its foundation in 1871, the city was in need of a federal building by 1900. Erected in 1907 and expanded twice, the building is an example of the civic architecture of the early twentieth century. It is part of a cluster of governmental buildings in downtown Huntington that recall the city’s growth and prosperity at the turn of the century. In the late 1970s, the post office moved to a different location, and the building now houses the General Services Administration. It is still a federal building, and public access is limited.
The Caldwell Building, located at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in downtown Huntington, has been home to a number of different businesses and offices over the years. One of Huntington's earliest business buildings, the structure was erected in 1887 by prominent banker and businessman James Lewis Caldwell. Caldwell was the co-founder and longtime president of the First National Bank of Huntington, as well as the founder of Huntington’s first electric railway line and several coal companies. Originally, the Caldwell Building held the city’s second post office, with the offices of various professionals on its upper floors. In 1936, the building’s exterior was remodeled to feature black marble and cream glass mounted in chrome. Later, during the 1960s, the building was one of several that was covered with metal in an attempt to look more “modern.” During this time, the building’s ground floor was occupied by various businesses, most notable among them being Lawrence Drugs, The Smart Shop, and Metheny Shoe Repair. In the 1990s, Liza Caldwell oversaw the removal of the structure’s metal skin and its restoration to a more vintage appearance. The historic building’s ground floor is currently home to Bodega Market and Cafe.
The Morris Building is a historic seven-story building on the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and 9th Street in downtown Huntington. Opened as the Hotel Farr in 1918 by businessman John S. Farr, it became a favorite amongst business travelers at the time. The building has changed owners and purposes several times since its construction: it operated as the Hotel Governor Cabell from the 1930s until 1965, when it was leased to the government and renamed Cabell Hall. The Morris Building acquired its current title in 1972, when it was purchased by Helen Morris. It housed offices, apartments, and businesses until an early morning fire in 2014 forced the building to be vacated. Until the owners of the Morris Building restore the structure and install a sprinkler system, it will not be allowed to reopen, and currently remains unoccupied. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
A statue of a Union soldier was once located on the southwestern corner of 5th Avenue and 9th Street in Huntington. The statue stood above a public drinking fountain, across the street from Hansford Watts' Fifth Avenue Hotel, and in front of Carnegie Public Library. Although sources vary, it appears that the statue was vandalized and removed in 1915 which was around the same time that Confederate sympathizers announced plans to create a monument to Southern soldiers.
This stone memorial on the lawn of the Cabell County Courthouse was dedicated in honor of Cabell County Virginia (now West Virginia) soldiers who served in the War of 1812. The marker was dedicated in 1953 by the West Virginia State Society of the United States Daughters of 1812. No specific names or regiments are listed on the marker, it being for the county as a whole. Virginia bore the bulk of the war with Britain and pay records identify western-Virginians who participated.
The Cabell County Courthouse in Huntington has served as the seat of county government for over one hundred years. Cabell County was formed in 1809 from the western portion of Kanawha County. For much of the nineteenth century the county seat was located at different times in either Guyandotte or Barboursville; the seat moved to Huntington in 1887. The Beaux Arts Classical style courthouse was constructed between 1899 and 1901 and was designed by the Kansas City architectural firm of Gunn and Curtis. The building was expanded with the construction of new wings in 1923 and 1940 respectively. It is one of the most ornate courthouses in West Virginia and one of the most prominent landmarks in Cabell County. The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1982.
Opened in 1895, the Cabell County Jail was used for more than 40 years to house inmates of Cabell County. Located at 750 5th Avenue in Huntington, WV, the jail was built alongside a county courthouse after the county chair moved from Barboursville to Huntington. The original jail was demolished and replaced by a new jail in the same location. The new jail was used from 1940 until 2003 when the Western Regional Jail (WVRJ) was constructed. The construction of the WVRJ was a part of a program to replace county jails with regional jails in West Virginia. This new jail houses inmates from several counties such as Cabell, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam, and Wayne.
On this site in 1872, the first graded public school established by the City of Huntington offered its first classes. Buffington School was named after one of the oldest and most prominent families in the local area. The school utilized the eight-room brick building until 1897 when a larger building was erected down the street. In 1902, the building was repurposed as Huntington General Hospital, the city's first hospital. The institute was leased and operated by the Cabell County Medical Association, which had advocated for the creation of a public hospital for years. The hospital endured financial difficulties. Sometime between 1910 and 1917, the hospital relocated to a new building on 6th Avenue. The original building housing Buffington School and Huntington Hospital was eventually demolished. Today, the site of the former school and hospital is occupied by a law office.
Huntington's first school opened in 1872 to meet the needs of a growing population. The original school building was constructed at 720 4th Avenue, near the Cabell County courthouse and Huntington City Hall. In 1897, a larger school was built on 6th Street and 5th Avenue to replace it. Both buildings were named Buffington School, after one of the earliest families to settle in the Huntington area. The new Buffington School operated until 1976, when it was purchased by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Twenty years later, the John Clark Oil Company purchased the building and demolished it, making way for a gas station and convenience store.
The 720-foot Robert C. Byrd Bridge crosses the Ohio River and connects Huntington, West Virginia to Chesapeake, Ohio. The bridge replaced the old two-lane bridge and was dedicated in 1991 in honor of West Virginia's long-time senator Robert C. Byrd.
Located at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street, Guthrie Hospital served patients in the Huntington area for over seventy years. Originally called Guthrie-Steenbergen Hospital, it was established in February 1911 by Dr. Joseph A. Guthrie and Dr. John Steenbergen. After Steenbergen sold his interest in 1912, Guthrie operated the hospital alone, expanding it in 1916 and 1920 and creating a training school for nurses around the same time. After Guthrie passed away in 1955, his son William ran the hospital alongside Dr. Gary Ripley. The two, joined later by William’s son Robert, operated Guthrie Hospital until the mid-1980s. While the hospital was considered well-equipped and modern when it first opened, the building was aging and operating at half its former capacity by that time. The Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation purchased Guthrie Hospital in 1986, but it closed just two years later for financial reasons. The former hospital was demolished and replaced in 2000 by the Cabell-Huntington Unity Apartments, a public housing complex for individuals with disabilities.
The Biggs Armory, built in 1912, was the first armory in the city of Huntington. A private building rented by the West Virginia National Guard prior in its first decade of use, the facility became the first state-owned armory in West Virginia when the state purchased the building from its original owner in 1921. The building served as a place for training reserve troops but was also an important building for the city as it hosted meetings, dances, and a variety of other events. Following the completion of a new armory in 1949, this building was sold to a local oil company and later demolished.
The Johnston-Meek House was first constructed in 1832 by Henry Clark. It passed through several different owners in the following three decades before being purchased in 1863 by John L. Johnston, part of a prosperous Irish farming family in the area. It is speculated that the home may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, though this has not been substantiated. The venerable house saw its first major architectural additions after it was purchased by attorney John E. Meeks in 1919. These renovations were designed by local architect Sidney L. Day; the house is believed to be his only surviving residential work in Huntington. In 2017 the property was purchased by the Children's Home Society of West Virginia, which now preserves the site and uses it for office facilities. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Kessler Hospital provided medical care to Huntington, West Virginia residents from 1904 to 1958. Founded by Dr. A.K. Kessler, who had originally operated a hospital in Clarksburg, Kessler Hospital and Sanitarium was initially located on the corner of 4th Avenue and 5th Street. The hospital reopened in a larger building at 6th Avenue and 1st Street in 1911, and became Kessler-Hatfield Hospital in 1917 when former governor Henry D. Hatfield entered a partnership with Kessler. In 1928, the hospital was renamed for the last time, becoming Huntington Memorial Hospital until it closed in 1958. The former hospital was demolished shortly thereafter and a shopping center was built in its place.
The Kiwanis Day Care Center has been operating in the Huntington area since 1930. Founded as the Kiwanis Day Nursery, the center has grown from a small facility in a donated residence to a modern facility with eight classrooms, kitchen. conference room and offices. The day center has been recognized as the oldest continuously operating daycare in the State of West Virginia. The Kiwanis Club of Huntington has received many awards over the years for their efforts with this project.
Social reformer Stella Fuller (December 4, 1883-March 2, 1981) was a familiar face in Huntington for more than 70 years. She ministered to the needy of Huntington as a member of the Salvation Army. Recognizing unmet needs throughout the city, she established the Stella Fuller Settlement in 1942. The institution provided shelter and support for thousands of West Virginians between 1942 and 2009.
Opening in 1939, Midway Drive-In has been a staple of Huntington’s West End for over eighty years. The restaurant began by selling popcorn and root beer before introducing signature menu items like hot dogs and barbecue sandwiches a few years later. Over the years, the Midway Drive-In passed through a handful of different owners while offering the same classic menu items. The restaurant closed in 2006, but Bill Ghiz and Cory Hutchinson purchase and re-opened the restaurant two years later. Although the co-owners made some changes to the building and introduced several new menu items, they have continued to serve old favorites like hot dogs, burgers, and a variety of milkshakes. In 2015, the Midway Drive-In was featured in a segment of the Food Network’s “Guilty Pleasures” for its signature hot dogs. The Huntington landmark celebrated its eightieth anniversary in 2019.
In 1905, Charles and Kate Heiner began baking bread out of a hotel room in Central City. By the company's fourth year, the Heiners moved their business to a small building on the corner of Washington Avenue in Huntington. Since then, the bakery has expanded several times as its products gained popularity across the region, eventually growing to fill an entire city block. By 1985, Heiner's bakery was distributing 75 varieties of bread, rolls, and buns. In 1996, the company was acquired by Earthgrains Company, which itself was purchased by the Sara Lee Corporation in 2001. The company is currently owned by Grupo Bimbo, but the great-grandson of its founders still serves as plant manager. Heiner's Bakery currently distributes bread through West Virginia, Ohio, parts of Virginia, and eastern Kentucky.
Constructed in 1938, this Huntington theater was named for Darwin E. Abbott, a prominent photographer who operated a studio and factory in Central City. Before it closed in 1951, the Abbott Theater was a popular attraction in the neighborhood, showing second-run movies at a discounted rate. In 1952, the former cinema was leased to the Community Players, who renovated the building into a theater for stage productions. In 1991, the Community Players decided to stop performing at this theater owing to the estimated cost of necessary repairs to the aging building. In December 1994, the City of Huntington demolished the theater after it was damaged by a fire.
D. E. Abbott & Co. was one of the oldest and longest-lasting industries in the Central City neighborhood of Huntington. It began in 1890 as Addison Thompson and Associates, a glass factory that produced tableware. In 1898 it was acquired by D. E. Abbott (1856-1942), a businessman and photographer, who created a business selling portraits, picture frames, and moldings. The company flourished, and at one point it was the second-largest employer in Huntington. The company scaled back its operations in 1919 but remained open until 1991. For a number of years afterwards the facility was home to the J. Taylor Auto Collection, a private automobile museum. The original office building still stands today, although it is currently unoccupied.
Old Central City Park and Gazebo serve as the central part of this historic Huntington neighborhood and are utilized for entertainment and cultural programs during Old Central City Days. The park is one of several results stemming from a five-phase program to economically redevelop the district beginning in 1988. As part of that plan, the neighborhood was christened "Old Central City" and preservation and development efforts began in earnest in the years that followed. Before becoming part of Huntington, Central City was an independent town from 1893 to 1909 that included many of the largest factories in the region. Central City was established by a group of local businessmen who sought to entice industries into the area. During its brief existence, Central City became home to major businesses such as Heiner’s Bakery, the Fesenmeier Brewery, D. E. Abbott and Company, Duncan Box and Lumber Company, and the Huntington Tumbler Company. In 1909 Central City was formally annexed by Huntington and became known as the neighborhood of West Huntington or Fourteenth Street West. After years of deindustrialization, urban decay, and rising crime, revitalization efforts were launched in the late 1980s to inject new economic growth in the neighborhood. Now known as Old Central City, the district is promoted as a cultural and historical center. It has been dubbed by Huntington as the “Antique Capital of West Virginia.” Old Central City is home to a number of locally-owned businesses including multiple antique shops and a farmers’ market. In June of every year, this park and gazebo are the center of a street festival known as Old Central City Days.
The Hartzell Handle factory was one of the first major industries in Central City. It was built around 1896 by brothers Irvin and Enos Hartzell, who owned or operated a number of handle factories, lumber mills, and other business across the region. This factory was located just south of Washington Avenue and between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets. The Hartzell Handle Company specialized in producing hickory wood handles for axes, hatchets, spades, and other tools. It thrived thanks to its close proximity to other major industries, railroads, rivers, and a steady supply of timber from the forests of West Virginia. The exact fate of the factory is unclear but it closed sometime after 1913 and was later demolished. The dwindling supply of hickory timber in West Virginia is cited as the primary reason for its demise.
From the late nineteenth century and through much of the twentieth century, glass manufacture was one of West Virginia’s and the Ohio Valley’s most important industries. Huntington was once home to several glass factories itself, including Rainbow Art Glass Company (later Rainbow-Viking Glass). The company was founded in New York by Henry P. Manus and J. Goudaker in 1940, but relocated to Huntington two years later. Originally, the company decorated glassware that it purchased from other companies, before it began manufacturing its own colorful, hand-blown glass in 1954. In 1973, Rainbow Art Glass was purchased by Viking Glass, which began in 1901 as the New Martinsville Glass Manufacturing Company. When the Rainbow-Viking Glass factory and adjacent retail shop were destroyed by fire in 1983, the company decided not to rebuild the plant. Viking Glass continued manufacturing glass from its New Martinsville facility until 1998, when rising production costs and foreign competition caused the company to shut down.
From 1933 to 1971, this was the headquarters of the Ohio Valley Bus Company. The company was established in 1913 as the Ohio Valley Streetcar Company, and its original headquarters was on the corner of 18th Street West and Washington Avenue. The company began offering service to Huntington residents using ten streetcars, and by the 1920s, Ohio Valley Streetcar had built a network of 34 miles of track and connected the cities of Huntington, Ashland, and Catlettsburg. Fred Samworth became the president of the company in 1933, and as the company replaced streetcars with buses, the company's name changed to the Ohio Valley Bus Company four years later. Starting in the 1950s, the proliferation of personal automobiles led to financial difficulties for the bus company. Facing stagnant wages, employees went on strike on October 1, 1971. This strike ended in 1972 with the creation of the Tri-State Transit Authority, a publicly subsidized entity that still operates in Huntington today.
For more than fifty years, the French Tavern was regarded as one of Huntington’s finest restaurants. Founded during the 1920s by Belgian immigrant George Weydisch, the eatery originated as a joint restaurant and grocery store on the city’s west side. It was renamed the French Tavern when the Weydischs moved it to Piedmont Road around 1932. In 1936, the restaurant moved again to 2349 Adams Avenue, where it remained for nearly four decades. With a menu offering hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, and homemade bread, as well as blue plate specials each Sunday, the French Tavern soon grew into one of the city’s most popular eateries. After the Weydischs retired, the restaurant was operated by Ida Weydisch’s son, Henry Bode, and his wife Frances. In 1974, it was passed to their son George Bode and his wife, who moved it to a former supermarket at Adams Avenue and West Nineteenth Street. The new location featured a large dining room as well as a supper club, along with private banquet rooms. After over fifty years in business, the French Tavern closed in 1980.
The Samuel Vinson Homestead is located in Huntington and is currently occupied by the 4th owners of the property. Originally home to Samuel Vinson, was a prominent figure in the Wayne County area and a successful business man who served in the Civil War as well. Vinson Middle School, as it is known today is in remembrance of Samuel Vinson. During an interview with the current owners, it is said that the owners after Mr. Vinson died on the Titanic in 1912.
The Veterans Administration Hospital is located in Huntington. Veteran hospitals were established in March 1865. The Huntington VA was established in 1932. Facilities like these were established when Civil War soldiers and sailors were returning back home. It was initially known as the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. When the United States entered in wars such as World War I Congress developed new benefits and programs for veterans. It became a short-term treatment facility. This historical marker is located along US Route 60 by Burlington Road.
Originally designed as a picnic spot for patrons of the Camden Interstate Railway Company which ran between Huntington and Ashland, Camden Park is one of the nation's oldest amusement parks. The park began with a carousel in 1903 and today it offers over thirty rides and attractions. Over the years Camden Park has been the setting for baseball games, tens of thousands of picnics, fairs, marathon dances, roller derbies, flagpole sitting, a swimming pool, and even a zoo. The park is also the host of several events such as Hot Summer Nights concert series, Children's Festival, Coca-Cola Days, Halloween Spooktacular, and the Wayne County Fair.
On the banks of Twelve Pole Creek and the Ohio River near Huntington, West Virginia, is the third-largest Adena Native American mound in the state. It is uniquely located in the middle of a local amusement park named Camden Park. The mound is believed to have been constructed by the Adena Culture which flourished in the area between 800 B.C. to A.D. 100. It has never been scientifically excavated by professional archaeologists.
Twelve Pole Creek flows eighty-three miles from Mingo County, West Virginia, to the Ohio River. It has a long and rich history and has played a pivotal role in the region's economy and transportation. Native Americans had previously lived in the Twelve Pole Valley for thousands of years. When Europeans settled in the area, they used the large creek for a variety of purposes. The creek was dammed and grist mills were erected along its banks. Prior to the construction of the railroad, people used the creek as a primary mode of transportation. Coal and timber was floated down the river to the Ohio River to reach outside markets. Today, thanks to two large dams constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s, the waters of Twelve Pole Creek offer visitors various recreational opportunities.
During the 1880s, school leaders in Ceredo approved the construction of a small frame schoolhouse for African American children that operated until the 1930s at this location. The school was one of several in Wayne County that were attended by African American children during the era of segregation. The schoolhouse also served as a church and meeting place for members of Ceredo's African American community. School officials decided to close the school sometime in the early 1930s. The closure of the school was not a result of integration, as state law prohibited interracial education prior to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Board, but rather owing to declining enrollment. This change was the result of African American families moving from the community, with the majority of those families deciding to move to nearby Huntington. After the closure of this school, the Ceredo School Board paid to operate a bus that transported the remaining African American students to schools in Westmoreland and Huntington. The former schoolhouse was a private home and was lost in a residential fire in the early 1970s.
The Ramsdell House was built in 1858, and is the oldest surviving building in Ceredo. This Greek Revival style home is believed to have been the first brick house built in the town, which was founded in 1857 by a group of New England abolitionists led by Massachusetts Congressman Eli Thayer. Thayer and his supporters, including shoemaker Zophar Ramsdell, sought to establish Ceredo as a means of demonstrating the superiority of a free economy over one founded on the institution of slavery. Today many people believe that the town's early residents were involved in the activities of the Underground Railroad, and that the Ramsdell House was used as a hiding place for runaway slaves fleeing to Ohio. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and underwent a full restoration in 1985. Today it is owned by the Town of Ceredo and operated as a museum and community center. The Ramsdell House stands as a testament to the unique place of Ceredo as an anti-slavery settlement in a slave state.
Austin's Ice Cream is a historic local ice cream shop in Ceredo, West Virginia. Established in 1947, the restaurant is famous for its variety of unique flavors, including Grape Pineapple. It has been owned and operated by the Snyder family since 1983. Austin’s Ice Cream is one of the first places one will encounter upon entering Ceredo, or the last place one will see upon exiting. Offering up to forty different, handcrafted flavors, Austin’s Ice Cream has remained a popular tourist destination for Ceredo. A second branch is also open in downtown Huntington, which enjoys continued success as well.
The First Congregational Church of Ceredo was established in 1874. It is the second oldest church in Ceredo, following the United Methodist Episcopal Church in 1866. It is also said to be one of only three Congregational churches in West Virginia. The current building, located on the northeast corner of First Street West and C Street, has been in continuous use since 1886. Its distinct appearance is modeled after churches in New England as homage to the original congregation’s New England roots.
The Ceredo United Methodist Church is the oldest surviving church in Ceredo. It was first established in 1866 as part of Wayne County's Methodist circuit. The original charter members included prominent locals such as Z. D. Ramsdell. A permanent church building was constructed on land donated by the Hoard family in 1879. It remains in use to this day and still features the original stained glass windows. The congregation has historically been small but has also been very active in the local community.
The First National Bank of Ceredo was the first bank established in Wayne County. For the vast majority of its existence the bank was operated by the Hoard-Stark family, one of the most influential families in Ceredo. For years the bank prospered and was one of the biggest in the local area. From 1892-1959 the bank was housed in this two-story brick building designed by S. Floyd Hoard. Later it moved to a modern building on Route 60, and eventually merged with United Bank in 1993. Today the original bank building functions as an apartment complex.
The Ceredo Plaza is a strip mall located to the south of Route 60 in Ceredo. The large tract of land occupied by the plaza previously served as a greyhound race track, golf course, and drive-in movie theater. The shopping center opened in 1976 and created an economic boon for the community. The extra revenue allowed Ceredo to pursue infrastructure improvements and expand public services. The plaza suffered a hit in 2004 when its anchor store, Big Bear, shuttered. While it is not as successful as it was in its earlier years, the Ceredo Plaza remains an integral part of the economy of Ceredo and Kenova.
The world of Little League Baseball came to Ceredo, West Virginia in the year 1953 and has taken place every year since. Every year, people in the Ceredo-Kenova area flock to Mitch Stadium to watch their children play America’s favourite past time. Legendary Mitch Stadium is the home of the Ceredo-Kenova Little League, and has played host to the 2009 Little League Southeastern Regional Tournaments, the 1968 Little League Divisional Tournament, and the 9-10 Year-Old Tournament of State Champions since 2005, bringing 8 southeast state champions to our community every year.
The Ceredo-Kenova football field was created in 1963 next to Ceredo-Kenova High School. Over the decades it has served as a pillar for the community. The high school and the twin towns of Ceredo and Kenova were deeply invested in football; C-K won twelve state championships during its existence. The field remained in use by local schools following the closure of the high school in 1998. In 2011 temporary modular units were placed on the field to house classes for Kenova Elementary School after its building abruptly closed due to safety concerns. The football field was restored and rededicated in September 2019. It is named after Carl Ward and Dale Craycraft, the two most successful football coaches Ceredo-Kenova High School’s history. Today Ward-Craycraft Stadium serves as the football field for Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School, which opened in 2017 on the site of the former high school.
The Pumpkin House is a Victorian-era home in Kenova, West Virginia. Originally known as the Joseph Miller House, the Queen Anne-style residence was constructed in 1891, when the town of Kenova was in its infancy. It is most famous for its display of thousands of carved illuminated pumpkins every Halloween. This tradition began with current owner Ric Griffith, who along with volunteers carves some 3,000 pumpkins for the spectacle. The Pumpkin House is the centerpiece of the annual C-K Autumnfest and draws 20,000-30,000 visitors each year. The attraction has received national recognition and has been featured on several television programs in recent years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Ceredo-Kenova High School was a secondary school in Kenova, West Virginia from 1894-1998. It was the first high school in Wayne County and remains the longest-existing. A source of pride for both the Ceredo and Kenova communities, the C-K Wonders won twelve state football championships in its 104-year history. C-K also fielded several notable alumni, including Christian singer Michael W. Smith; MLB player Don Robinson; and Intuit CEO Brad Smith. In 1998 declining enrollment forced the closure of C-K High and it was consolidated into the new Spring Valley High School. The high school building sat vacant for many years until its demolition in 2014 to make room for the new C-K Elementary School.
The First Baptist Church of Kenova is an iconic church in the Kenova, West Virginia community. The first incarnation of the church was established in 1897 but was short lived. In 1908 it was revived and has remained in operation ever since. After starting with thirteen members, the church today is one of the largest in Wayne County and very prominent in the community.
Running through the heart of Kenova and over the Ohio River is a 6,150 foot long, 85 foot high, and over 100 year old engineering marvel, the Norfolk & Western Railroad's Kenova Bridge. Work on the bridge began in 1890 when the N&W began constructing a line to connect Norfolk, Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio. Laborers flooded into the area, a new town was created, and lives were lost during its construction. After 23 years of work, the first passenger trains rumbled across the river on June 9th, 1913.
The Norfolk and Western Railroad's Union Station was one of the most prominent landmarks in the town of Kenova for much of the twentieth century. The large, two story, yellow brick station was built in 1892-1894 to service the N&W's passenger trains. Union Station began falling into disuse as the passenger train industry declined in the mid-1900s. By the 1970s the station had been shuttered and was demolished in 1975. Today nothing of the structure remains.
Kenova United Methodist Church was established in 1894 as a mission church of the Ceredo Methodist Church and remains one of the oldest congregations in the region. The congregation was located at Sycamore Street in its early years before moving to its present location in the 1910s. The current sanctuary, the church's third building, was constructed in 1980 with an educational facility added in 2003. At present, the church has over 600 members and is active in the community with a variety of programs.
Kenova Elementary School was the first and longest-operating public school in Kenova. A schoolhouse was first built at 11th Street in the early 1890s during the development of Kenova. Around 1906 the first in a series of buildings was constructed at a three-acre block on Poplar Street. For over a century all children living in Kenova attended this school. In 2011 the complex was closed over concerns about a sinkhole; for the next several years classes were held in modular units on a football field. Kenova Elementary School formally ceased to exist with the opening of the new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School in 2017. In 2018 the vacant school buildings on Poplar Street were demolished to make way for commercial development on the site.
Griffith & Feil is a historic pharmacy and soda fountain in Kenova, West Virginia. It is one of the oldest continuing businesses in town. The pharmacy was established in 1892 and has been in its current location since 1914. After a lengthy restoration Griffith & Feil has been returned to its classic soda fountain appearance. It remains owned and operated by the Griffith family. Enjoy a stroll into older days and take in some of the area's history depicted within the store for an interesting and fun time.
The Glenwood was a prominent hotel located in the heart of Kenova. It was one of several major building projects conducted during the town’s first decade of existence. Construction began as early as 1890 but was delayed and not completed until the early 1900s. The Glenwood was notably the first location of R. Ney Williams’ drugstore, which later became Griffith & Feil Soda Fountain. The hotel itself was relatively short-lived, only operating until 1917. Years later most of the structure was demolished, but a small portion was spared and today functions as an apartment building.
The Ceredo-Kenova Historical Marker was erected in 1975 near the western entrance to Kenova. It commemorates the foundings of Ceredo and Kenova, two adjoining small towns in northern Wayne County with their own distinct histories. Ceredo was founded in 1857 by Massachusetts Congressman Eli Thayer. His intention was for the town to become a manufacturing city populated with northern abolitionist emigrants, with the goal of converting southerners to the ideals of free labor and industrialization. Kenova meanwhile was founded in the 1890s to service the Norfolk & Western Railway. The N&W built a bridge crossing the Ohio River at this location to transport coal from the southern coalfields of West Virginia. The name Kenova is a portmanteau of the names Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Dreamland Pool was founded by local businessman J. D. Booth in 1926. The community pool served as one of the area’s biggest attractions because of its many activities and convenient placing on Route 60 between Huntington, WV and Ashland, KY. Today the pool is owned and managed by the Kenova Parks and Recreation Board. It remains a family-friendly environment for recreational activities every summer.