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West Virginia State Capitol: The Seat Of Local Government

Suppose you are looking for a place to learn about the history, culture, and attractions of West Virginia. In that case, you should visit the West Virginia State Capitol. This impressive building is not only the seat of government for the state but also a symbol of its heritage and identity. This web page will tell you everything you need to know about the West Virginia State Capitol, from its origins and architecture to its fun facts and tips for visitors. Whether a local or a tourist, you will find something exciting and inspiring in this magnificent landmark.

Image of State Capitol of West Virginia

The History of the West Virginia State Capitol

The West Virginia State Capitol has a long and fascinating history that reflects the state’s journey from being part of Virginia to becoming an independent state during the Civil War. The capitol was first located in Wheeling from 1863 to 1870 in a building that was initially a military school.  It was then moved to downtown Charleston from 1870 to 1875, in a building that combined elements of French, Second Empire, and Gothic styles.  However, Wheeling offered to build a new capitol building if the legislature agreed to return to the city, which they did in 1875.  The new building in Wheeling was completed in 1876, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1885. 

The capital returned to Charleston in 1885, where it remains today. The capitol was previously located in downtown Charleston from 1885 to 1921 in a building that was also burned down by a fire.  The current capitol building was designed by Cass Gilbert, a New York architect who also designed the Woolworth Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building.  The construction of the capitol took eight years, from 1924 to 1932, at just under $10 million.  The capitol was dedicated on June 20, 1932, on the state’s 69th birthday.

Image of the Abraham Linconln Statue in the West Virginia State Capitol

The Culture around the West Virginia State Capitol

The West Virginia State Capitol is a place of government culture and community. The capitol hosts various events throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, ceremonies, and exhibitions. Some of the most popular events include:
  • The Governor’s Arts Awards is an annual event that recognizes and honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the arts in West Virginia.
  • The Vandalia Gathering: a celebration of traditional folk music, dance, crafts, and food every Memorial Day weekend on the capitol grounds.
  • The West Virginia Book Festival: a two-day event that features authors, publishers, workshops, and activities for book lovers of all ages.
  • The Veterans Day Parade: a parade that honors and celebrates the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families.

The capitol also houses several cultural institutions, such as:

  • The West Virginia State Museum is a museum that showcases the history, culture, and natural resources of West Virginia through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.
  • The West Virginia Culture Center is a center that promotes and preserves the cultural heritage of West Virginia through programs, services, and collections.
  • The Governor’s Mansion: the official residence of the governor of West Virginia and their family, which is open for public tours by appointment.

What can you find in the West Virginia State Capitol?

The West Virginia State Capitol is a stunning example of neoclassical architecture that features a dome covered in copper and gold leaf, buff Indiana limestone walls, marble floors and columns, and intricate carvings and sculptures.  Some of the highlights of the capitol include:

  • The Rotunda: the central hall that connects the two wings of the capitol building. It features a chandelier made of 10,080 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal that weighs 4,000 pounds and hangs from a 54-foot brass and bronze chain. 
  • The House Chamber: the chamber where the members of the House of Delegates meet and debate. It has a seating capacity of 134 and is decorated with blue carpeting and draperies.
  • The Senate Chamber: the chamber where the members of the Senate meet and debate. It has a seating capacity of 34 and is decorated with red carpeting and draperies.
  • The Governor’s Reception Room: the room where the governor receives guests and holds press conferences. It has a fireplace, a grand piano, and portraits of former governors.
  • The Supreme Court Chamber: the chamber where the justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals hear cases and issue opinions. It has a mural depicting the history of law and justice in West Virginia, painted by Allyn Cox.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the West Virginia State Capitol that you may not know:

  • The capitol dome is 293 feet tall, five feet taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. 
  • The capitol building has 333 rooms and 14 acres of floor space. 
  • The capitol building has two biblical inscriptions carved in stone tablets on the north and south bases of the dome. On the north side: “Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore, get wisdom. And with all of thy getting, get understanding.” On the south side: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and getteth understanding.” 
  • The capitol building has the carved heads of mythological creatures, such as griffins, lions, and eagles, above some of the entranceways. 
  • The capitol building was featured in the movie “Matewan”, directed by John Sayles, as a stand-in for the state capitol of Kentucky.

Advice for Visitors

If you are planning to visit the West Virginia State Capitol, here are some tips to make your experience more enjoyable:

When is it open?

The capitol building is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on state holidays.  Guided tours are available from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., on the hour and half-hour.  You can also take a self-guided tour using a brochure or an audio device that you can borrow from the information desk. 

What to wear?

There is no dress code for visiting the capitol building, but you should dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Wear shoes that are easy to walk in, as there are many stairs and corridors to explore.

Is it family-friendly?

The capitol building is a great place to visit with your family. There are many things to see and learn for people of all ages. You can also visit the nearby attractions, such as the West Virginia State Museum, the West Virginia Culture Center, and the Governor’s Mansion.

When is it best to visit?

The best time to visit the capitol building depends on your preferences and interests. You can visit during a session of the legislature, which usually runs from January to March if you want to see how the laws are made and meet your representatives.  You may also want to visit during one of the events or festivals on the capitol grounds, such as the Vandalia Gathering or the West Virginia Book Festival to enjoy some music, art, or literature.

A Trip Through West Virginia Landmarks to Castle Floor Coatings

Via I-64 W and I-64 W/I-77 N

The Greenbrier

101 W Main St, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, United States

  1. Get on I-64 W from US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    1. Head southeast toward Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    2. Continue onto Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    3. Continue to follow Springhouse Ln
    4. Turn right onto US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    5. Turn left onto Harts Run Rd
  2. Turn right to merge onto I-64 W toward Beckley
    1. Merge onto I-64 W
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward Charleston
    3. Take exit 79 toward Sharon/Cabin Creek Rd
  3. Turn left onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
    1. Turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Cabin Creek Rd
    2. Destination will be on the right

Eksdale, West Virginia, C&O Coal Tower

220 Back St, Eskdale, WV 25075, United States

  1. Head north on Cabin Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
  3. Turn left onto the 64 W/77 N ramp
  4. Merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N
  5. Take exit 97 for US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd toward Midland Trl
  6. Continue onto US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd E
  7. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia State Capitol

1900 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25305, United States

  1. Follow I-79 N and US-19 S to Birch River. Take the WV-82 exit from US-19 S
    1. Head west on US-60 W toward WV-114 N
    2. Turn right onto US-60 W/WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    3. Continue to follow WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    4. Turn left to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward I-79
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to take the I-77 N exit toward I-79/Parkersburg
    6. Continue onto I-77 N
    7. Keep right at the fork to continue on I-79 N, follow signs for Clarksburg
    8. Take exit 57 toward Beckley
    9. Merge onto US-19 S
  2. Take the WV-82 exit toward Birch River/Cowen
    1. Turn left onto WV-82 E/Birch River Rd
    2. Continue straight onto Howard Farm
    3. Continue onto Old Birch River Rd
    4. Turn right onto 1st St W/Erbacon Rd
    5. Continue to follow Erbacon Rd
    6. Turn left onto WV-20 N/Webster Rd
    7. Continue to follow WV-20 N
    8. Turn right onto Co Rte 15/4
    9. Turn right onto WV-15 E/Point Mountain Rd
    10. Continue to follow WV-15 E
  3. Turn right onto US-219 S/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto WV-66 E
    2. Turn left to stay on WV-66 E

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

12363 Cass Rd, Cass, WV 24927, United States

  1. Head southwest on WV-66 W toward Deer Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto US-219 N/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto US-219 N/US-250 N/Seneca Trail
    2. Continue straight onto WV-92 N
    3. Slight left onto US-250 N/US-33 W/US-48
    4. Turn right onto US-250 N
  3. Turn right onto WV-92 N/Morgantown Pke
  4. Continue to follow WV-92 N
  5. Turn left onto US-50 W
  6. Turn right onto WV-92 N
    1. Turn left onto Gladesville Rd
    2. Turn right to stay on Gladesville Rd
  7. Turn right onto US-119 N/Grafton Rd
    1. Turn left onto the ramp to I-79/Fairmont
    2. Merge onto I-68 W
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-79 N toward Washington
    4. Keep left to stay on I-79 N
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-70 W/I-79 N toward Washington
    6. Continue to follow I-70 W
    7. Keep right at the fork to stay on I-70 W
    8. Keep left to stay on I-70 W
    9. Take exit 225 for OH-7 toward Bridgeport
    10. Turn left onto Marion St
    11. Turn left to merge onto I-70 E toward Wheeling

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Head east on I-70 E
  2. Take exit 1A for US-40 E/WV-2 N/Main St toward Downtown
  3. Merge onto US-40 E/WV-2 S/Main St
  4. Continue to follow WV-2 S/Main St
  5. Turn left onto 16th St/Greater Wheeling Trail
  6. Continue to follow 16th St
  7. Turn left onto Market St
  8. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia Independence Hall

1528 Market St, Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Get on I-70 E
    1. Head north on Market St toward 15th Pl
    2. Keep left to continue on Lane 38
    3. Merge onto I-70 E via the ramp to Washington
  2. Merge onto I-70 E
    1. Take the exit onto PA-43 S
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto US-119 S toward PA-43 S/Morgantown
    3. Keep left to continue on US-119 S/US-40 E
    4. Use the left 2 lanes to take the US-40 E exit toward Hopwood
  3. Get on I-68 E/US-40 E in Garrett County
    1. Continue onto US-40 E
    2. Turn right to stay on US-40 E
    3. Use the right lane to merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E via the ramp to US-219 N/Cumberland
  4. Merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E
    1. Continue onto Exit 82C (signs for I-70 W/US-522 N/Breezewood)
    2. Use the right lane to keep right at the fork and continue on Exit 82B
  5. Keep right to continue on Exit 82A, follow signs for US-522 S/Hancock/Winchester, and merge onto US-522 S
    1. Merge onto US-522 S
    2. Turn right onto Fairfax St
    3. Fairfax St turns left and becomes Cornelius Ave
    4. Destination will be on the left

Museum of the Berkeley Springs

2 Fairfax St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411, United States

  1. Take Fairfax St to S Washington St
    1. Head northeast on Cornelius Ave toward Fairfax St
    2. Cornelius Ave turns right and becomes Fairfax St
  2. Turn right onto S Washington St
  3. Get on I-81 S in Berkeley County
    1. Turn left onto WV-9 E/Martinsburg Rd
    2. Continue to follow WV-9 E
    3. Use the right lane to take the ramp to Winchester
  4. Merge onto I-81 S
    1. Take exit 12 for WV-45 E toward WV-9 E/Winchester Ave/Charles Town
    2. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto WV-45 E
    3. Continue onto WV-9 E
    4. Use the right lane to take the US-340 N/WV-51 W ramp to Charles Town/Harpers Ferry
    5. Turn left onto US-340 N/William L Wilson Fwy
  5. Drive to Shenandoah St
    1. Turn left onto Shenandoah St
    2. Continue straight to stay on Shenandoah St
    3. Destination will be on the right

John Brown’s Fort

814 Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, United States

  1. Head southwest on Shenandoah St toward Potomac St
  2. Turn left onto US-340 E/William L Wilson Fwy
  3. Continue to follow US-340 E
    1. Take exit 10 for interstate 70 E toward I-270/Baltimore/Washington
    2. Merge onto I-70 E
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 53 to merge onto I-270 S toward Washington
    4. Take exit 31B for MD-85 S toward Buckeystown
  4. Continue onto MD-85 S/Buckeystown Pike
    1. Pass by McDonald’s (on the right in 0.4 mi)
    2. Turn right onto Executive Way
    3. Turn right onto Macon St
    4. Turn left onto Proclamation Pl
    5. Destination will be on the right

Castle Floor Coatings – Garage Coatings & Concrete driveway sealers

7180 Proclamation Pl, Frederick, MD 21703, United States