Even though West Virginia wasn’t a state until the Civil War, this land has history that goes back further than that. Historical structures stand as monuments to our past and tell a story in a way that paper and ink simply cannot match. Among the historical structures still standing, here are 11 of the oldest.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Old Stone House - Morgantown
This structure, built in 1796, is an example of early pioneer architecture. The house was owned by John W. Thompson, a potter who used clay from his pots for the house's foundation. Today, the structure is owned by the Morgantown Service League and houses a gift shop. The Old Stone House is located at 313 Chestnut St.
2. The West Virginia Governor's Mansion - Charleston
This house was completed in 1925 to replace the original structure built in 1893, which burnt down. The first resident of the mansion was Governor Ephraim Morgan, who had only a week left in his term when he moved in. This mansion remains the governor's residence to this day. The address is 1716 Kanawha Blvd E. in Charleston.
3. Blennerhasset Mansion - Blennerhasset Island
This Mansion is located on an island just down the river from Parkersburg. The original structure was built by Irish immigrant Harman Blennerhassett around the turn of the 20th Century. Blennerhassat and his wife were prominent figures in the Aaron Burr conspiracy to form a new nation in America. Both men were accused of treason by President Thomas Jefferson and imprisoned. The mansion is located at Island View Dr. on Blennerhasset Island.
4. Berkeley Castle - Berkeley Springs
This Norman castle was built by Colonel Samuel Taylor Suit, a wealthy business man who fell in love with 17-year-old Rose Pelham, the daughter of an Alabama congressman. After several rejected attempts to win her heart, Suit finally got her to marry him, provided that he build her a castle. He agreed, and hired German masons to build the 20-room structure. Suit died before the castle could be completed, but left it to Rose to finish with the inheritance money he left her. The construction was completed in 1891. It is located at 276 Cacapon Rd.
5. The Beverly - Charles Town
This structure has been part of a working farm since 1750. The main house was built around 1800, replacing a smaller stone structure. The land, which houses several buildings, was purchased by Richard Stephenson in 1750. The structure was eventually sold to Beverley Whiting in 1795. Whiting was an agriculturalist who served on the first grand jury in Jefferson County. The farm has been owned by the Burns family since 1870, but still bears the name of its previous owner. The house is located along U.S. Route 340 near Charles Town.
6. The Greenbrier Resort - White Sulphur Springs
The Greenbrier, known as one of America's finest hotels and resorts, was built in 1913. The original structure, built in 1858, was called the Grand Central Hotel, or "the White." During the Civil War, control of the property changed hands between the union and confederacy several times. During WWII, the property was sold to the U.S. military and became a hospital for wounded soldiers. When the war ended, the property was sold back to the original owners and it became a hotel once again. Through the years, the Greenbrier has welcomed many celebrities and U.S. presidents. The resort is located at 300 W Main St.
7. Harpers Ferry Armory - Harpers Ferry
This armory, which began construction in 1799, is well known for being raided by abolitionist John Brown in 1859 with the intention of inciting an armed revolt by slaves to fight for their freedom. It was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to Brown's execution, but his actions were an omen of things to come. The armory is located at 301 N Mildred St.
8. The Former Bank of Huntington - Huntington
Geoffrey Foster for OIYS
Though refitted for retail use, this structure was originally Huntington's first bank. In 1875, the bank was robbed by a group of outlaws that some believe might have been the James Gang. The robbers entered the bank and proceeded to clear out its vault. They left with $20,000 in cash stuffed in sacks, firing their pistols in the air along Third Avenue as they fled the scene. At some point in the years that followed, the structure was moved to its current location at 210 11th St., #14.
9. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum - Weston
This asylum operated as a mental health facility from 1864 to 1994. It is the largest hand cut stone masonry building in America and is the second largest of such structures in the world (The Kremlin is the first). Over the years, the facility became overcrowded with patients living in poor conditions. Today, the asylum is known as one of the most haunted places in the state, and ghost tours of the facility are held regularly. The asylum is located at 71 Asylum Dr.
10. Morgan's Kitchen - St. Albans
Built in 1846 by John Morgan Jr., this kitchen was erected as a separate structure from the main house on his 600-acre estate, largely to avoid possible fire and extra heat permeating the main house in the summer. The kitchen had its place in history during the Battle of Scary Creek in 1861. Morgan fed Union troops during the battle and even treated two wounded soldiers in there. The St. Albans Historical Society, who operates the kitchen, is located at 404 Forth Avenue.
11. The Maddie Carroll House - Guyandotte
This house, brought over by boat in 1810, was one of the few houses to survive the Confederate raid on Guyanadotte in 1861. As soldiers were pulling people from their homes and setting them ablaze, Mary Carroll was one resident who refused to exit her home. Unwilling to burn the home with the woman and her family inside, they burned her barn instead. The house is now a museum owned by the Madie Carroll Historical Society. Mary's act of heroism during the raid is re-enacted every year at Guyandotte Civil War Days, as part of a larger reenactment spread over the course of two days. The house is located at 234 Guyan St.
Are you familiar with these buildings? Which ones would add to this list? Feel free to comment below and join the discussion.