Settlers arrived in the Kanawha Valley before the American Revolution but about the only thing that came from it during the 18th century was the name “Charleston” from the father of Colonel George Clendenin who constructed the first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, in 1787. By 1800 the village boasted a population of only about 65 living in twelve houses.
But in the early 19th century salt brines were discovered along the Kanawha River and the first salt well was drilled in 1806. Over the next few decades salt production would rise to over three million barrels per year. It took a lot of sawmills to cut all that wood for the barrels and the flatboats needed to ship the salt and Charleston experienced its first boom. Many of the town streets today bear the names of the early 19th century salt kings: Dickinson, Shrewbury, Ruffner, Brooks and others.
Still, there were fewer than 4,000 people in town when influential Democratic politicians engineered the transfer of the state capital from Wheeling to Charleston in 1870. Wheeling wrested the government back in 1875 but after a statewide referendum the capital was back in Charleston for good in 1885. By this time the railroad had arrived and Charleston was serving as a mercantile and banking center for the rich bituminous coalfields being opened in the southern part of the state. With its political and financial bases firmly established, Charleston’s population galloped forward for the next 75 years, not even slowed by the Great Depression. The population topped out at 85,000 in the 1960s and although it has dipped back to pre-Depression era levels, Charleston remains the largest city in West Virginia.
Charleston’s boom from 1885 to 1960 resulted in buildings of nearly all of the popular architectural styles from that time being erected, many of which are still extant. Our walking tour of “the most northern city of the South and the most southern city of the North” will begin in a similar place of transition, where the grand Victorian state capitol of West Virginia once stood...
Capitol & Lee streets
John P. Hale was given the contract for building the first West Virginia capitol in Charleston in 1870 and he ended up paying most of the cost himself. Hale’s building was incorporated into a grand Second Empire pile of 85 rooms that housed all the departments of the government when it was first occupied in 1887. That building served the state until it was destroyed by fire on January 3, 1921. Ammunition stored in the attic fueled the smoky conflagration. The origins of the fire were unknown but one story rattling around was that the blaze was set as a diversion by a drug addict so he could break into a neighboring apothecary. When a suspect was found dead beneath the South Side Bridge a few months later, the case was closed. A temporary wood-frame building was erected to house the government in just 42 days but it too would burn in 1927. This time the new and present state capitol was almost completed and ready to stand in. The southwest corner of the original Capitol lawn has been preserved as the Lee Triangle. The park boasts two white marble monuments honoring veterans of the 20th century’s two World Wars.
BEGIN YOUR TOUR ON THE EAST END OF THE TRIANGLE AT THE JUNCTION OF HALE AND LEE STREETS AND WALK THROUGH THE TRIANGLE TOWARDS CAPITOL STREET. ON YOUR LEFT IS...
819 Lee Street at southwest corner of Hale Street
One of Charleston’s most beautiful buildings was added to the streetscape in 1936, the handiwork of busy Huntington architects Wilbuer J. Meanor and Edward Handloser. The recognizable green marble street level is topped with two stories of brick and metal casement windows with terra cotta surrounds and Corinthian pilasters. The entire confection is capped with an ornate entablature.
AS YOU REACH THE MONUMENTS, THE TALL BUILDING TO YOUR RIGHT IS...
Kanawha Valley Building
300 Capitol Street at northeast corner of Lee Street
This office building ornamented with gray and orange terra cotta rose on the site of the West Virginia State Capitol building in 1929. At 285 feet and 20 floors the skyscraper is topped only by the current Capitol as the tallest structure in the state. Plans were drawn up by English architect Alfred Charles Bossom who practiced in New York City. Bossom eventually returned to England where he became a Member of Parliament in 1931.
TURN LEFT ON CAPITOL STREET.
Coyle and Richardson Building
Capitol Street at southeast corner of Lee Street
George Coyle of Berkeley County and J. Lynn Richardson of Frederick County, Maryland met clerking in the Shenandoah Valley and formed a partnership in Winchester, Virginia in a store which they sold in 1880. They renewed the business in 1884 in Charleston in a small one-story building on the Kanawha River with 20 feet of frontage in 1884. From that humble beginning grew the oldest department store in southern West Virginia. The dry goods emporium moved into this classically-flavored, six-story space in 1907 and lasted into the 1960s.
227 Capitol Street at northwest corner of Brawley Walkway
In the early 1890s architect Frank L. Packard built this brick, four-story building for brothers W.D. and G.W. Scott. The Victorian design is graced by a corner turret and Romanesque-influenced windows. After 1914 the building housed the Scott Brothers Drug Store and Soda Fountain, a tribute to which is paid on the painted wall sign on Brawley Walkway.
TURN RIGHT ON MITCHELL STREET.
Loewenstein & Sons Hardware Building
223-225 Capitol Street
Solomon M. Loewenstein came from Germany to America in 1863 and commenced the hardware trade in Charleston, where his sons Louis and Moses were born. The boys entered the hardware and saddlery firm in 1890 when a wholesale business was added to the manufacturing concern. This five-story pressed and molded brick structure, unique in the city, is ornamented with Victorian and classical detailing and dominated by a central bay of oriel windows. It was created on plans drawn by Joseph Warren Yost and Frank L. Packard of Columbus, Ohio, designers of several important West Virginia buildings. Later tenants have compromised the street level; the Loewenstein family business operated until 1966 when it was sold to outside interests.
Kanawha County Public Library
123 Capitol Street at southwest corner of Quarrier Street
This three-story Neoclassical building began life in 1911 as a United States Courthouse and Federal Building. Clad in Indiana limestone, the structure is highlighted by engaged Ionic columns and keystone-accented arches. In 1966 the county library moved into the space, an occasion commemorated with a fountain sculpture by Robert Cronbeck of New York.
TURN RIGHT ON QUARRIER STREET. TURN LEFT ON SUMMERS STREET.
WVSU Capitol Center Theatre
123 Summers Street
The theater opened as the Plaza in 1912, offering “high class vaudeville entertainment.” After a fire collapsed the roof in 1923 it was rebuilt and christened the Capitol and offered the new “talkies” to eager movie patrons. Following a familiar American arc for downtown movie houses the Capitol declined through the 1960s and 1970s until it was closed in 1982. Spared the wrecking ball, however, the theater reopened in 1985 as the Capitol Plaza. In 1991, the building was given to West Virginia State University.
TURN RIGHT ON VIRGINIA STREET.
Charleston City Hall
southeast corner of Court and Virginia streets
More than any other architect H. Rus Warne is responsible for the Charleston visage today so it is appropriate that City Hall emerged from his drawing board as well. Warne was borne in Parkersburg in 1872 and was practicing architecture in his hometown by the age of 20 after traveling extensively in the United States and Europe, including a stint at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, the world’s pre-eminent design school. He migrated to Charleston in 1902 where he helped found Silling Associates, one of the nation’s longest practicing architectural firms. Warne tapped the Neoclassical style for the City Hall in 1921, presenting equally impressive smooth gray limestone facades on both Virginia and Court streets.
TURN LEFT ON COURT STREET.
Kanawha County Courthouse
southwest corner of Virginia and Court streets
Now filling an entire city block, the Kanawha County Courthouse came along in three stages. The original courthouse was erected in 1892 with the main orientations on Court Street and facing the river on Kanahwa Street. It replaced a modest two-story brick building that had served the county since 1817. Two Richmond, Virginia men, Reuben Shirreffs, a Nova Scotia-born civil and hydraulic engineer with no formal education, and Walter R. Higham, trained as an architect in his native England, guided its construction. They chose to construct the courthouse in the brawny Richardsonian Romanesque style, then in vogue for grand public buildings. Based on the workings of the most celebrated American architect of the post-Civil War period, Henry Hobson Richardson of Boston, the courthouse features such hallmarks of the style as rock-face masonry, open arches, wide gables, corner towers and smooth grey limestone masonry colonnettes. It is the pre-eminent survivor of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in Charleston. Sympathetic additions were made in 1917 and 1924 that have shifted the focus of the courthouse to Virginia Street.
TURN LEFT ON KANAWHA BOULEVARD.
Haddad Riverfront Park
700 Kanawha Boulevard
In the 19th century Kanawha Boulevard was Front Street, crowded with shops and businesses and illuminated by gaslights, a true luxury at the time. Today the waterfront has been cleared for this open park with walking paths and docks for boaters. The amphitheatre seats up to 2,500 people for events.
C & O Railroad Depot
across the Kanawha River at 350 MacCorkle Avenue SE (beside South Side Bridge)
Across the river, at the base of the South Side Bridge, the hipped roof building with the lively Beaux Arts facade is the railroad depot constructed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1905. At the time as many as eight passenger trains rolled through Charleston each day and 800 freight cars were being unloaded in the town every month. The blonde brick station is trimmed in classically inspired terra cotta around a collection of paired Roman Doric columns. The depot was restored for commercial use in 1987 but still handles passengers for AMTRAK.
South Side Bridge
Kanawha River at Virginia Street
The original South Side Bridge was constructed in 1891 as the first bridge across the Kanawha River but the growth of the town made it obsolete by the 1930s. The City of Charleston issued a $330,000 bridge bond in 1935 and by 1937 traffic was flowing across the 1148-foot steel girder bridge with a 420-foot main span. The main truss was fabricated by the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company of Milwaukee. In 1948 West Virginia native Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, buzzed the Kanawha River by flying under the South Side Bridge in a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, the first jet fighter used by the United States Army Air Forces.
723 Kanawha Boulevard at foot of Capitol Street
This 14-story tower was the tallest building in West Virginia when it was erected in 1911. The design follows the practice of creating early skyscrapers in the image of a classical column with a defined base (the ornate lower floors), a shaft (the relatively unadorned central floors) and a capital (the decorative upper floors). In the case of the Union Building, architect Clarence L. Harding had contractors sink 32 concrete piers through quicksand to reach a solid bedrock foundation. It was originally named the Alderson-Stephenson Building in honor of businessmen Charles Alderson and Samuel Stephenson who financed the construction.
2 Capitol Street at northeast corner of Kanawha Boulevard
Constructed in 1910 for the National City Bank, this eight-story steel office tower was outfitted in tan brick with cream-colored terra cotta trim. The bank later became part of the Charleston National Bank. Look up to see the intricate classical detailing still intact on the parapet.
TURN LEFT ON CAPITOL STREET.
102 Capitol Street at northeast corner of Virginia Street
The Security Building, clad in signature white glazed tiles, is really the product of two harmonious buildings erected simultaneously in 1914. The larger corner edifice housed the offices of the Kanawha National Bank, founded in 1892 and later merged into the larger Charleston National Bank during America’s banking crisis in 1930. The elegant space next door with the over-sized windows was created for Frankenberger and Company, Charleston’s pioneer clothing store. Philip and Moses Frankenberger opened their first store in 1860 but Confederate troops confiscated their stock and sent the young men to a prison in Salem, Virginia. They escaped and walked back to Charleston, traveling at night to avoid recapture, and were able to get back in business on credit.
TURN RIGHT ON VIRGINIA STREET.
107 Hale Street at northwest corner of Virginia Street
After a fire ignited by lightning severely crippled this building in 1914 architect H. Rus Warne re-imagined it with pointed arches and terra cotta tracery to bring a Gothic touch to the downtown Charleston streetscape.
One Bridge Place
10 Hale Street at southeast corner of Virginia Street
Romanesque-style warehouses with parades of arched windows were a common sight in towns around America in the late 1800s. This one, five stories high and constructed of orange and tan brick, was built for the Lewis & Hubbard Company, the largest wholesale grocery sales and distribution firm in the region. The building has received architectural awards for its adaptive re-use for modern commercial clients.
1001 Virginia Street at southeast corner of McFarland Street
The Charleston Gazette came into the world as the Kanawha Chronicle, a weekly publication, in April of 1873. The first issues of the competing Charleston Daily Mail appeared on the streets in 1880. The business operations for the two papers would be merged in 1958. H. Rus Warne designed this Neoclassical plant for the Daily Mail in 1927 that rests on a powerful rusticated base. The facade is divided by engaged pilasters and decorative terra cotta capitals. The rear addition is of 1950s vintage.
Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral
1114 Virginia Street at Leon Sullivan Way
The first Catholic priest to minister in what would become West Virginia held services in 1832 and two years later a church was erected at Virginia and McFarland streets. The current Romanesque-style limestone church dates to 1897 when $600 was spent for plans drawn up by H.B. Lowe of Lexington, Virginia. On October 4, 1974 Pope Paul VI renamed the Diocese of Wheeling as the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Sacred Heart Church was designated the co-cathedral for the diocese.
The First Presbyterian Church
16 Leon Sullivan Way at southeast corner of Virginia Street
The First Presbyterian Church organized under a stand of elms on the courthouse yard in 1819 and has worshiped in this Neoclassical sanctuary since 1915. The capstone of this magnificent edifice with a full Corinthian portico is a 52-foot rotunda placed on pendentives. The firm of Weber, Werner & Atkins assume design honors.
NOTE: AT THIS POINT THE TOUR BEGINS TO EXPLORE CHARLESTON’S HISTORIC EAST END DOWN TO THE STATE CAPITOL COMPLEX, A ROUND TRIP OF SOME FOUR MILES. TURN RIGHT ON LEON SULLIVAN WAY TO CONTINUE. IF YOU WISH TO STAY IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA, TURN LEFT ON LEON SULLIVAN WAY AND PICK UP THE TOUR AT STOP #47, ST. JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
1018 Kanawha Boulevard at northwest corner of Leon Sullivan Way
This early example of the International Style with rounded corners and ribbon windows was crafted by Martens and Son in 1939 as the national headquarters of the United Carbon Company, the largest carbon black manufacturing concern in the world. The color scheme of the Minnesota black granite and gold bricks is emblematic of the firm which remained here only until 1950. The bronze sculpture at the corner entrance was sculpted by Robert E. Martens to be symbolic of all the workers of the company.
TURN LEFT ON KANAWHA BOULEVARD EAST.
Justus Collins House
1116 Kanawha Boulevard
Justus Collins was an Alabama coalman who moved to Mercer County in 1887 to operate in the new “smokeless coalfields” of West Virginia. He organized the Louisville Coal & Coke Company and eventually moved to Charleston into this Queen Anne-style brick house fronted by a Neoclassical wrap-around porch with Ionic pillars. The Collins family eventually moved to Cincinnati and the house, now on the National Register of Historic Places, is today owned by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
William A. Ohley House
1118 Kanawha Boulevard
This early example of an American four-square house from 1903 was constructed for William A. Ohley, the tenth West Virginia Secretary of State who served from 1890 until 1893. Ohley was an investor in the rich bituminous coal fields of the Pocohontas Land Company which became a subsidiary of the Norfolk and Western Railway. Contractors were John and Wayland Davidson, brothers who made a name for themselves building large early houses around the town.
Frank Woodman House
1210 Kanawha Boulevard
This eclectic house from 1891 is packed with Queen Anne elements including asymmetrical massing, varied roofline, wraparound porch, a cornucopia of window styles and fish-scale siding. Businessman Frank Woodman, who had holdings in iron, wool, lumber and brick among other interests, was the original owner.
1300 Kanawha Boulevard
The core of this house was constructed in 1895 for W.T. Thayer who started a foundry with his brother, O.T., that later became Trojan Steel. Architect H. Rus Warne gave the mansion a Georgian makeover for businessman William Zimmerman in the early 1900s and outfitted the portico with full-height fluted Corinthian columns. The shallow hipped roof is occupied by evenly spaced gabled dormers. It houses a headquarters of the United Mine Workers of America today.
1310 Kanawha Boulevard
This Greek Revival brick mansion was constructed in 1836 by Norris Whitteker for Isaac Noyes but was first occupied by Henry and Julia MacFarland. The two-story Doric portico is surmounted by a triangular pediment. During the Civil War Battle of Charleston in 1862 the house served as a hospital for Union soldiers and took a direct hit by a cannonball.
1422 Kanawha Boulevard
This Queen Anne frame house was constructed in the final days of Judge Okey Johnson’s tenure as a justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court from 1876 until 1888. “Davis” was M.T. Davis, a president of the Kanawha Mine Car Company, who spent a quarter-century in the house beginning in 1896.
1500 Kanawha Boulevard
This Georgian Revival stone mansion, flanked by 1-1/2-story wings, is one of the most important residential designs by Charleston architect Walter F. Martens in the wake of his work on the Governor’s Mansion in the 1920s. Completed in 1929, the client was Myrtle Wood Hall, widow of Judge Cyrus Hall.
Augustus Ruffner House
1506 Kanawha Boulevard
The Greek Revival-flavored beginnings of this farmhouse date to 1834 when it was raised by farmer and lumberman Augustus Ruffner and his wife, Mary Elizabeth. Later additions include the Italianate-styled brackets under the eaves. The Ruffner family, descendants of pioneering saltmaker Daniel Rufner, referred to this property as “Cedar Grove” for the abundance of cedar trees that grew here at the time.
O.F. Payne House
1510 Kanawha Boulevard
This symmetrical Colonial Revival house, dominated by stout Ionic columns, was created in 1909 for businessman O.F. Payne. Stately homes such as this one were the McMansions of their time in the early 20th century.
John Carver House
1516 Kanawha Boulevard
The widowed Ann Hartmags Carver sailed from England to Pennsylvania with her five sons and two daughters in 1864. The eldest, John, then 22, went to work in the coal mines. In 1877 John and his brothers Enoch and Jim opened the Carver Brothers Coal Company with John as President, Enoch as secretary and James as superintendent. Their mine in the “Coal Valley” seam was soon shipping 250 tons a day and continued production until about 1911. This brick interpretation of the Colonial Revival style was constructed for John by the Davidson brothers in 1902.
1520 Kanawha Boulevard
This splendidly proportioned Georgian Revival house was built around 1920 for James S. Cunningham but Walter Hallanan, president of the Plymouth Oil Company, spent 37 years with his family here until 1962.
1564 Kanawha Boulevard
Ben Baer, a prominent wholesale liquor dealer, commissioned the building of this Italian Renaissance-flavored home around 1920. Note the symmetrically placed entrances encased in elaborate stone hood molds.
1612 and 1614 Kanawha Boulevard
Albert Schwabe and his cousin, Isadore May, opened a clothing store in downtown Charleston in 1880 and the family business survived until 2008. In 1923 Schwabe built this nearly matching pair of Italian Renaissance houses for his daughters, Claire and Hedwig. They each boast red tile roofs and hooded lower story windows around ornate entrance treatments.
Meredith P. Ruffner House
1636 Kanawha Boulevard
This picturesque frame house is awash in decorative patterns of wooden shingles, framed by half-timbering. The intricate carpentry is carried across the wrap-around porch with turned columns and gingerbread brackets. The Victorian confection was imagined for wholesale grocer Meredith Ruffner around 1890.
1710 Kanawha Boulevard
Joseph Ruffner migrated from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and purchased 502 acres from John Dickinson in 1794 at the mouth of Campbells Creek that included its storied salt spring. Ruffner eventually owned all the lands of present-day downtown Charleston and the East End. With their vast land holdings and money-making salt works, the Ruffner family shaped the development of the Kanawha Valley for decades. Daniel Ruffner, the fifth son of Joseph, built Holly Grove in 1815 and it is the oldest house in Charleston, although its appearance dates to a 1902 renovation that included the grand half-circle Ionic portico. In 1826 Ruffner opened Holly Grove as a house of public entertainment and hosted such famous travelers as Henry Clay, Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson, and John J. Audubon.
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Walter Frederic Martens was born in Danville, Illinois and began his architectural career there. He moved to Charleston in 1921 at the age of 31 and opened his own practice. His career was kick-started two years later when he won the commission to design the new West Virginia executive mansion. Working closely with the esteemed Cass Gilbert, who was the architect of the State Capitol then under construction, Martens delivered a Neo-Georgian style mansion executed in red Harvard colonial brick behind a prominent two-story portico. The Governor’s Mansion was ready in March 1925 and Governor Ephraim Franklin Morgan moved his family into the house for just a week on his way out of office as the state’s 16th chief executive.
West Virginia State Capitol
After the State Capitol burned in 1921 there was much debate on siting the next capitol building. There were those in favor of rebuilding at the downtown site, architect Cass Gilbert favored a location on the Kanawha City side of the Kanawha River but in the end the complex was developed here in the less congested area of Charleston’s East End. The wings and rotunda were contracted out as three separate jobs with each unit being financed, constructed and inspected before the next would begin, starting with the west wing. Groundbreaking took place in 1924; dedication in 1932. Exterior walls were constructed of Indiana select buff limestone and the interior wall sand floors were made from Tennessee marble. The dome rises 292 feet, is 75 feet in diameter, and is made of lead, coated with copper, and covered in gold leaf trimmed in blue. It is the tallest building in West Virginia. Among the statues on the ground are memorials to coal miners and soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln and native stone Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
WALK AROUND THE CAPITOL AND RETURN TO GREENBRIER STREET. TURN LEFT AND WALK TOWARDS THE RIVER. TURN RIGHT ON VIRGINIA STREET.
Charles Capito House
1605 Virginia Street
Ambrose Grayson Higginbotham was born in Logan County and came to Charleston in 1892 the age of 20 to begin his career as a carpenter. By 1899 he became engaged in contracting and architectural work and designed many structures around town, including this classically flavored mansion for liquor wholesaler Charles Capito in 1907-1908. Capito later became president of Kanawha National Bank and Higginbotham stopped his architectural work in 1922 and morphed into a real estate expert.
Women’s Club of Charleston
1600 Virginia Street
The Woman’s Club of Charleston organized on March 5, 1909 with a gathering of nine women. Meetings were convened in member’s homes as membership grew to 329 over the next decade. This lot was purchased for $16,000 in 1921 and Walter Martens was selected to design a clubhouse in the late 1920s. Martens crafted a building in the French Chateauesque style with cream-colored stucco walls ornamented with decorative wrought iron. The hipped roofs are covered with gray slate.
Henry C. Dickinson House
1579 Virginia Street
This brick mansion, painted gray, is marked by a gracefully curving portico supported by Ionic columns with matching balustrades. It was built in 1903 for the Dickinson family that operated the last of the area’s great salt works.
1578 Virginia Street
This is another creation of Ambrose Grayson Higginbotham, tapping the half-timbered English Tudor-style in 1914 for Dave Baer of Lowenstein Hardware.
General E.L. Wood House
1527 Virginia Street
Edward Langley Wood was born on Brown’s Creek in 1846 but moved with his family to Ohio at an early age. He returned to Charleston in 1869 with a law education but never practiced and was appointed the state librarian. Over the years he became one of Kanawha County’s best known citizens as the sergeant-at-arms of the West Virginia House of Delegates which earned him the title of “General.” This frame house was built for Wood and his wife Nannie in 1895.
1502 Virginia Street
This red-tile roofed house with its prominent Ionic columns was constructed in 1907 for Solomon and Bettie Hilburn Meyers, who had immigrated from Germany before the Civil War. Meyers fought with Confederacy and later owned a plumbing business. Peter Haley purchased the house in 1952 and operated a medical practice from the basement.
J.C. Morrison House
1330 Virginia Street
This early English Tudor-style house was built in 1904 for J.C. Morrison, president of the Capitol City Bank. The wood and brick house is dominated by its four gables.
TURN RIGHT ON LEON SULLIVAN WAY.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
1105 Quarrier Street at southeast corner of Leon Sullivan Way
Philadelphia architect Isaac Pursell blended a Romanesque corner bell tower with Gothic windows and roofline for this sandstone church, beginning in 1883. The gray slate roof is decorated in patterned bands of hexagonal and rectangular slates. The adjoining parish house came along in the 1920s and represents a mostly successful attempt by the Charleston firm of Warne, Tucker, Silling & Hutchison to maintain the integrity of Pursell’s Victorian Gothic design. St. John’s is considered the mother of Episcopal churches in Charleston and was formally created in 1877.
TURN LEFT ON QUARRIER STREET.
United Fuel Company Building
1033 Quarrier Street at southeast corner of Dunbar Street
This is another contribution to the Charleston streetscape from H. Rus Warne, an early high-rise rendered in the Italianate Commercial style for the United Fuel Company. Constructed of red brick above a rusticated stone base between 1913 and 1917, the building is notable for its unique stone and brick checker-board pattern above the upper windows and its original one-over-one, double-hung sash windows.
1031 Quarrier Street
The stripped-down classicism of the 1930s Art Deco style is evident in this eight-story office building. The best Art Deco flourishes are on display right at eye-level at the curving, recessed entranceway. The first story is dressed in polished granite while you can spot decorative Deco-style fleur-de-lis in the upper story brickwork.
Medical Arts Building
1025 Quarrier Street
The Moderne theme is continued with this five-story commercial building from 1940. The entrance is framed by metal ribbing with terrazzo tile in gray and white in a starburst pattern which is replicated in the transom with metal. The first story is green polished stone and the upper stories are gray enameled panels.
904 Quarrier Street
Samuel Sloman began the Blossom Dairy Company in the early 1930s, fashioning this Art Deco building himself. Developing into a Charleston institution the eatery expanded to 12 locations. When Blossom Dairy sponsored a team in a local summer basketball league all-time great Jerry West, on whose jump-shooting form the NBA logo is based, played on the team.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO DICKINSON STREET AND TURN LEFT.
1001 Lee Street at southeast corner of Dickinson Street
This stylish four-story office building of smooth limestone ashlar blocks was created by architect H. Rus Warne in 1917. The facade is segmented by Corinthian pilasters and you can look up to see a cornice with dentil molding and decorative acanthus leaves.
900 Lee Street at southwest corner of Dickinson Street
This 17-story International style tower was completed in 1969 and stands on the site of the ornate, domed Old Statehouse Annex. The architects were Silling Associates that was birthed by H. Rus Warne in 1902 and continues today as the oldest continuing architectural firm in West Virginia.
United States Post Office
1002 Lee Street at northeast corner of Dickinson Street
Costing a million dollars, Charleston’s post office was the last Federal building completed before World War II and occupied in June 1942. The main entrance to the two-story limestone building has been enclosed but you can walk around and see some of the Neoclassical styling including pedimented entrances and Greek keys on the lintels.
St. Marks Methodist Church
900 Washington Street at northeast corner of Dickinson Street
Architect H. Rus Warne used ancient Rome’s Parthenon as his model for this sanctuary in 1912. St. Marks sports a green-tiled dome and a street-facing Corinthian portico.
TURN LEFT ON WASHINGTON STREET.
Daniel Boone Hotel
405 Capitol Street at the northwest corner of Washington Street
The Daniel Boone was one of Charleston’s fanciest guest houses - the type of place where John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Bob Hope would sign the guest book. It was designed by William Lee Stoddart, an architect who made his career building high-rise urban hotels, often in mid-size cities where his buildings were the tallest in town. Stoddart’s practice was in New York City but he married an Atlanta girl in 1898 and established an office there from which he directed the construction of many hotels around the Southeast, including this one in 1927. The ten-story hotel of blond brick and tan terra cotta is done in Stoddart’s favorite Classical Revival style and is U-shaped to provide more of the rooms - which eventually numbered 465 after two expansions, with windows.
TURN LEFT ON CAPITOL STREET.
northwest corner of Capitol & Lee streets
With no government help, Henry Gassaway Davis started building his West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railroad to Elk Garden and its 14- foot seam of coal. The self-made millionaire was elected to the first of two terms in the United States Senate in 1871. In 1904 the 80-year old Davis was added to the Democratic ticket as the oldest person to be nominated for Vice-President on a major party ticket in a futile attempt to unseat Theodore Roosevelt. The 12 1/2-foot equestrian bronze of Henry G. Davis was sculpted by Louis Saint-Lanne in 1926; it is an identical copy of a monument in his hometown of Elkins, West Virginia.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT LEE TRIANGLE.