Favorite thing: Take a stroll through the comfortable and elegant residential neighborhoods close to the center of town. They reflect the nineteenth-century prosperity of Cumberland when it was a major stop on the coach and turnpike routes to the west. U.S. 40, the National Road, goes right through Cumberland.
Favorite thing: The Alleghany County Library was built in the 1840s, and reflects the American interest in Greek styles and designs, widely influential in the pre-civil war era. Ionic columns were especially popular in the southern states, where they now serve as a kind of icon of the Confederacy.
Favorite thing: In County Seat towns like Cumberland (and Marquette, where I live), the County Courthouse is invariably the most solid and impressive "pile" around. Usually, the Courthouses were built between the 1870s and World War I, the product of the confidence and satisfaction of America's "Gilded Age." They reflect the central role of governments in an era widely assumed (mistakenly) to be completely laissez-faire, and they also show the American tendency (and ability) to take forms and styles from other cultures and other places and create something distinctive and new. In "Richardsonian Romanesque" buildings such as this, you can see the appropriation of "Gothic" designs to create a new kind of American civic temple.