One of our favorite things to do is to park and take a walk around the Capitol Complex. Looking at the old buildings and the Architecture and checking out the statues and the fountains. There is alwasy some lovely flowers along the grounds also!!! If you go on Sunday, you can park free at the meters around the complex and the parking lot near the Cultural Center also on the complex that houses the State Museum.
West Virginia has a very attractive state capitol building that is open to the public almost every day of the year. It was designed by the architect Cass GIlbert, who also designed the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC. The capitol building cost nearly $10 million to build and was completed in 1932, replacing an earlier capitol building which had been destroyed in a fire.
The building is similar in style to the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. One notable difference is the exterior of the dome, which on West Virginia's capitol building features an very interesting and attractive black and gold design. The dome of West Virginia's capitol building is 293 feet high, slightly taller than the US Capitol building in Wasdhington, DC. The dome's interior features a large chandelier. Another highlight of the capitol building's interior is the main lobby's ornate ceiling.
The history of West VIrginia's capitol is interesting. For some reason, the citizens of West VIrginia couldn't decide whether Wheeling and Charleston should be the state capitol. As a result, the capitol shifted back and forth between the two cities a couple of times before finally settling in Charleston in 1885.
The Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral is Charleston's main Catholic church. The Catholic diocese of West VIrginia has an unusual arrangement, with the bishop splitting his time between Wheeling in the northern part of the state and Charleston in the southern part of the state. Each city has its own Co-Cathedral as a result. Sacred Heart is a small cathedral, reflecting the relatively small protion of the state's population that is Catholic (about 6%). It is, however, an attractive building, with beautiful stained glass windows. It is open for mass every day of the week, with multiple services on Sunday.
On Charleston's Levee, renovated in 1995, is Haddad Riverfront Park, and an amphitheater that will seat 2,500 people. On the week-day that I was there I saw several local downtown office workers taking their lunch break on the bleachers, while soaking up some sun. The park is the venue for both public and private events including concerts, reunions, conferences and weddings.
There are many places named Charleston. According to VT there are Charlestons in 19 states and TWO in NY, PA and TN
The two most well known are in SC and WV. The SC city is older (founded as Charlestown or Charles Towne, Carolina in 1670), bigger and way more famous.
Even though Charleston WV (not to be confused with Charles Town, WV) is younger than the one in SC (the first settlement on the Elk and Kanawha Rivers wasn't until 1788), Charleston West Virginia IS the capitol of the state and also the county seat of Kanawha Co.
The WV Charleston may have been named for Col. Clendenin's father, Charles. (Col. Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers built Ft. Lee - the first settlement.) whereas the SC Charleston which was named for Charles II of England (1630-1685)
Figuring out where to put the WV capitol became a post Civil War political football. In March 28,1870, state officials moved the state records by steamer from their original location in Wheeling to Charleston. In May of 1875, state officials made the journey on steamers back to Wheeling. Then as the result of the 1877 state election (the cities of Martinsburg, Clarksburg and Charleston all received votes) in 1885, steamers for the third time moved all the records back to Charleston because this city had received the majority of the votes.
When it came to building the capitol there was (according to the WV website) agreement that the capitol would feature a dome and rotunda. Some of the state's officials became alarmed,.. when it was realized that the architect planned to have the dome covered with gold leaf. Gilbert asserted that the gilding was more appropriate to the building and would cost less in construction and maintenance than if stone were used...
The dome.. was originally gilded in 1931 for a sum of twenty-three thousand seven hundred dollars... At two hundred and ninety-two feet, .. dome is approximately four and one-half feet taller..
The dome is gilded in 23 ½ karat gold leaf. It was most recently gilded from 1988-91.
Guided tours conducted Monday-Friday from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Capitol open to public Monday-Saturday 9 am to 7 pm and Sundays 12 to 7 pm.
In 1990, the privatized committee called the Veterans Memorial Commission began this grand project as a shrine to all West Virginians who died for their country. The two-story oval shaped monument is made of four limestone monoliths, a shallow pool and a cobble stoned deck.
About 10000 names are being inscribed on the inside of the monoliths; men and women who have died in the US. Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, Korean and Vietnam Conflicts and the Gulf Wars I and II.
The Veterans Memorial Archives group is supplying all the needed data and statistics.
The kid in me just loves these hands-on "Discovery Museums".
See a tornado form in smoke in a wind column. Watch an avalanche form in a sand pile.
Let you hair stand on end from static electricity. Try to shush down the slope on a pair of electronic skis.
Most women don't dig these places but kids and adolescent old men do.
There are also science exhibits of the more traditional type (chemical models made of tinkertoys, planetarium where you can watch the stars at noon, rocks and minerals found in West Virginia, etc.)
For $10 you get all of this and a way to spend 3 hours of fun.
Helvetia, WV is a small Swiss village in a high mountain valley. The original Swiss and German settlers arrived in 1869 and their descendents remain. Due to the isolation of the area, the traditions of dance, music, food, and holidays have survived down through the generations.
Fasnacht is the pre-lenten burning of Old Man Winter. It occurs on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and is likened to Mardi Gras. It has its roots in the Swiss Winterfest.
In late winter, here in our mountains surrounding Pickens, when nights are freezing and days begin to warm, it's maple sugaring time!
Helvetia Day - This unique event celebrates the arrival of the first Swiss and German settlers in Helvetia. It is held on the Saturday closest to October 20.
A typical schedule includes:
4:00 p.m. Historic Walk. This starts at the Star Band (Red) Hall, follows the Buckhannon River, passes the Old Cemetary, and rises rapidly to near the top of the mountain. From there it follows the trail that the settlers use. Expect dramatic views with the Fall foliage often at it's peak. Refreshments afterwards.
5:00 p.m. Folk Dance Workshop. The Helvetia Folk Dancers perform at shows and festivals including the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, WV. This is your chance to learn some of the historic dances that have been passed down in the community. At the Star Band Hall. Free.
8:00 Square Dance. Live music. 8:00 p.m. at the Star Band Hall. $5.00 adults, $1.00 children.
Stay at Grandpa John's. A bed and breakfast on the Helvetia Hilltop and make sure to visit the General Store and eat at .The Hutte Restaurant, heated by a wood stove, is filled with Swiss and American antiques, but the best part is the food. The Swiss are hearty eaters, and the fare at the Hutte is true to tradition. There is a full menu which includes many homemade Swiss specialties..
Visit soon before it changes!
Hurricane is located right in between Charleston and Huntington. Downtown Hurricane is a walk down memory lane with just the type of stores you would expect for a local downtown that has some tourists but is not built for tourism. There is the expeted antique store and the handmade quilt store. There is an honest to goodness tea room and a bargain store. There's a grocery store (remember this is a REAL downtown - not Disneyland) called A to Z that has been there simply forever. Here are some websites to visit or names of local shoppes.
Main Street Studio
Paws and Shop
Country Home Antiques
The Root Cellar
I have visited the West Virginia State Capitol building three times. On the first visit, several years ago, the capitol was topped with a shining golden dome. The second visit, (May 2005) the dome was covered with what looked like shrink wrap, as it is undergoing renovations. I came to Charleston again in the summer of 2006 and took this picture.
The present Capitol took eight years to build, at a cost of almost $10 million. It was constructed in three stages, and dedicated on the state's 69th birthday, June 20, 1932. This imposing structure contains house, senate and supreme court chambers and the governor's offices. The focal point of the building is the columned marble rotunda with a huge chandelier, made of 10,000 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal hanging by a 54-foot gold plated chain and suspended 180-feet from the floor.
There are a few murals and sculptures in the rotunda, halls and wall niches of the Capitol, but many of these remain unfinished. The Capitol is open for public visitation and booklets are available in the foyer with which one may take a self-guided tour.
This large home, officially named "The Executive Mansion", is the official residence of the Governor of the state of West Virginia and his family. The mansion, designed by local architect Walter Martens, overlooks the Kanawha River and is adjacent to the state Capitol Building. It has 30 rooms and was completed in 1925.
Guided tours are available, which take visitors through the public rooms on the ground floor.
The West Virginia Cultural Center is a modern-style building located next to the state capitol that houses the West Virginia Museum (currently closed for renovation) and the West Virginia Archives.It also houses the West VIrginia State Theater, where numerous concerts are held throughtout the year, including the popular Mountain Stage series of concerts, which are broadcast on the NPR radio network and the PBS television network.
We took a walk along the Kanawha River near the capitol building. It was a nice relaxing way to get some exercise while in Charleston. The river in that section of the city is calm, with pleasant views. Howver, we did have some excitement while we were walking, as a paddlewheel riverboat passed us by.
There are a number of interesting statues located around the grounds of West Virginia's state capitol complex. These include statues of Abraham Lincoln, who was President of the US when West Virginia gained independence from Virginia, and Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate Civil War general, who was born in the area. Other statues include a mountaineer and a coal miner, two iconic symbols of West Virginia's citizens.
The East End Historic District is a pleasant residential neighborhood full of older Victorian-style homes and leafy streets. It is adjacent to the state capitol complex, and is a nice area through which to take a stroll on a summer evening, particulalrly along Virginia and Quarrier streets.