Appalachian Thursday – A Fickle State Capital
Today I’m headed to Charleston, WV, the capital of my home state, to participate in the WV Book Festival. I’m not only excited to be going as an author, but also because Charleston is a great city with an exceptionally beautiful capital building. And turns out it has an interesting history . . .
The current capital is actually the sixth structure to house state government. The first was in Wheeling, WV, from 1863-70. Then it was moved to Charleston (capital #2). In 1876, they switched back to Wheeling where they built structure #3 even though the old one was still around (and is even today).
In 1877 the legislature let the people choose between Charleston, Clarksburg, and Martinsburg (what happened to poor Wheeling??). Charleston won and the governor said the capital would be moved there in eight years. That capital–built around the old one (#4)–was fully occupied by 1887. THEN . . . it burned down in 1921.
So a temporary wood-frame structure was erected and dubbed the “pasteboard capital.” It (#5) burned down in 1927. Luckily, they had already begun construction of the capital that houses state government to this day (#6). The west wing had been finished in 1925, the east wing was completed in 1927, and the main domed section in 1932. It cost just under $10 million, which was actually LESS than the legislative appropriation.
The gold dome is the capital’s most recognizable feature. At 292 feet tall and 75 feet in diameter it’s gilded with real gold leaf (over copper and lead).
I’ve visited before, but I’m thinking it might be time to stop by again . . .