Charleston Things to Do

  • State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    by butterflykizzez04
  • State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    by butterflykizzez04
  • State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    State Capitol Building on April 21, 2013
    by butterflykizzez04

Best Rated Things to Do in Charleston

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    House and Senate Chambers

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 14, 2005

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    At the west end of the corridor in the State Capitol building is the Senate or Upper House, and at the east end is the House of Delegates, or Lower House. Although the two chambers are similarly arranged, there are some symbolic differences, alluding to the rank of the lawmaking bodies.

    For example, the ceiling of the Senate is domed while the ceiling in the House is flat. Carved eagles in the Senate have spread wings while the wings of the eagles in the House are closed.

    Both houses have three galleries where visitors may observe the lawmakers at work. I have sat in such galleries in many capitol buildings, both in the United States and in Canada, and have always found the politics and posturing of the proceedings very interesting, even when the subject matter was of little importance to me. Unfortunately, the legislature was not in session on the day of my visit to Charleston.

    West Virginia House of Delegates Chamber

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    East End Historic District

    by mikelisaanna Written Jun 5, 2006

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    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.

    Homes in the East End Historical District
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    The State Capitol Building

    by mikelisaanna Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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 West Virginia State Capitol building The interior of the West Virginia capitol building The history of West Virginia's capitol Looking up into the capitol building's dome The room where the House of Delegates meets
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    Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral

    by mikelisaanna Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    The Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral
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    Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 15, 2005

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    I was surprised to learn that this statue was the first to be erected on the West Virginia Capitol grounds, in 1910, especially since West Virginia broke off from Virginia during the Civil War and remained with the Union, after Virginia seceded with the Confererate States. A famous Confederate general in the War Between the States, Jackson was born in Clarksburg, and grew up at Jackson's Mill, Lewis County, in what is today part of West Virginia.

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned Moses Ezekiel, then working in Italy, to design the bronze statue to honor soldiers from western Virginia who fought for the Confederacy. The statue was first erected on the old Capitol gounds, located downtown, then moved to the new Capitol in 1921. An identical copy of Ezekiel's "Jackson" stands on the parade grounds of Ezekiel's alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.

    Jackson Statue
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    Haddad Riverfront Park

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Haddad Riverfront Park
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    West Virginia Governor's Mansion

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 14, 2005

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    This stately Executive Mansion overlooks the Kanawha River and is home to the Governor and First Family of West Virginia. It is a 30-room Georgian Revival structure, designed by Charleston architect, Walter F. Martens and completed in 1925.

    The first floor state rooms are open to the public by guided tour, which includes the reception hall, living room, library, state dining room and ballroom. Tours are available by reservation only; reservations may be made in the Capitol Rotunda, or by calling the number listed below.

    The Governor's Mansion

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    Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 13, 2005

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    This statue of America's 16th president was originally designed by Fred Torrey of Fairmont, West Virginia, in the late 1930s. His sculpture is based on Vachel Lindsay's poem by the same title, and depicts Lincoln pacing at night in a robe, under the strain of a nation torn apart by war. Some historians credit Lincoln with uniting the divided country, while others say Lincoln's harsh stand against states rights was the cause of the War Between the States.

    Torrey's 42-inch plaster model of the statue was exhibited in the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Torrey died in 1969 without completing the statue in bronze. Charleston sculptor Bernie Wiepper was contracted to reproduce this nine-and-one-half-foot sculpture from the original model, and it now stands in front of the West Virginia State Capitol.

    Abraham Lincoln Statue in front of State Capitol
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    State Capitol Building

    by Basaic Written Oct 28, 2014

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    It took some time to decide where the capitol of West Virginia would be and it moved a few times until in 1877, the people voted on a permanent location and that was Charleston. The current capitol building is the third in Charleston and took 8 years to complete. It was dedicated in 1932 on the 69th anniversary of the state. The building was designed by famous architect Cass Gilbert using the Italian Renaissance style of architecture and was built with buff Indiana limestone and Imperial Danby marble. The building is part of an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the prettiest state capitol building in the country. .

    State Capitol Building State Capitol Building State Capitol Building State Capitol Building State Capitol Building
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    The Vandalia Gathering

    by mikelisaanna Written Jun 5, 2006

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    The Vandalia Gathering is an annual 3-day cultural festival that is held in Charleston in late may over Memorial Day weekend. It features lots of mountain/bluegrass music and other native folk music, along with local crafts and folk dancing. Stages and booths are spread out throughout the state capital complex, with larger concerts every night in the State Theatre. The music events range from instrument-playing competitions (fiddle, banjo, guitar, etc.) to formal concerts to informal jams that seemed to constantly be springing up wherver there was some shade. Crafts on display included quilts, hand-blown glassware, pottery, hand-mad instruments, and jewelry.

    For children, they have hands-on crafts exhibits, as well as a tent where children can try to play the various instruments. There is also plenty of food, water, and soft drinks, which are sold in tents throughout the event that raise money for local non-profit organizations.

    An impromptu jam session at the Vandalia Gathering More musicians at the Vandalia Gathering Prize-winning quilts at the Vandalia Gathering Anna trying to play the mandolin
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    The Governor's Mansion

    by mikelisaanna Updated Jun 10, 2006

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    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 Governor's Mansion Sign with info about the Executive Mansion
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    Statues on the Capitol Complex Grounds

    by mikelisaanna Written Jun 6, 2006

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    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.

    Military statue near the capitol building Coal Miner statue near the capitol building
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    Walk along the Kanawha River

    by mikelisaanna Written Jun 6, 2006

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    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.

    The Kanawha River, with a riverboat A paddlewheel riverboat boat on the Kanawha River
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    West Virginia Cultural Center

    by mikelisaanna Written Jun 9, 2006

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    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.

    The West Virginia Cultural Center The entrance to the Cultural Center
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    Union Soldier Memorial

    by Stephen-KarenConn Written Jul 13, 2005

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    This Union Soldier statue was commissioned by the state's Soldier's and Sailors Memorial Commission in 1927 as a memorial to the 32,000 West Virginians who fought for the Union during the War Between the States, 1861-1864.

    Union Soldier Memorial

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