West Virginia: Other Historic Sites

A list of important historic sites in West Virginia.

Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church

Location: Grafton, Taylor County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: This was the site of the first Mother’s Day service, held on May 10, 1908. The result of the effort of Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) in the early part of the twentieth century, the observance of Mother’s Day is internationally celebrated. Mother’s Day was never intended to be a commercial holiday; rather, it was intended to be a serious and religious tribute to American motherhood.

Campbell Mansion

Location: Bethany, Brooke County

Relevant issues: Education, religion

Statement of significance: From 1811 until his death, this was the home of Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), founder of Bethany College and the leading influence in America’s largest indigenous religious movement. Campbell, called the “Sage of Bethany,” was an educational pioneer, renowned debater, political reformer and philosopher, prolific author, successful businessman, and agricultural leader, and was the leading spokesperson for the denomination now known as the Disciples of Christ. Bethany College, which was chartered by the State of Virginia in 1840, embodied Campbell’s educational philosophy, which was welded out of his experience at the University of Glasgow, where he was introduced to the leading currents of thought in his day, and his acquaintance with Thomas Jefferson’s pedagogic principles at the University of Virginia. Campbell’s example influenced more than two hundred institutions of higher learning and some two hundred academies and institutes across America.

Clover Site

Location: Lesage, Cabell County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: These are the extraordinarily well preserved remains of an Indian town dating to about four hundred years ago. The site pertains to the Fort Ancient culture, descendants of the cosmopolitan Hopewell trading societies and related to the other great urbanizing mound builders of the Mississippian period.

Davis and Elkins Historic District

Location: Elkins, Randolph County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, political history

Statement of significance: Halliehurst and Graceland, a pair of mansions on the grounds of Davis and Elkins College, are the key surviving buildings associated respectively with two of the Gilded Age’s most important business and political figures, Stephen Benton Elkins and Henry Gassaway Davis. United personally by Elkins’s marriage to Davis’s daughter, they became partners in business and, though titular political opponents, shared a common interest in shaping federal legislation that favored the interests of those such as themselves who were “captains of industry.”

Grave Creek Mound

Location: Moundsville, Marshall County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Dating to c. 500 b.c.e., this is one of the largest and oldest mounds in the United States representative of the burial mound tradition of the Adena culture, which preceded the Hopewell culture.

The Greenbrier

Location: White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: One of the country’s oldest resorts, the Greenbrier (1820) was originally built to cater to wealthy Southerners. Known from its beginnings as the “Queen of the Southern Spas,” the large complex of sulphur springs, luxury accommodations, formal gardens, and golf courses is still a primary symbol of gracious Southern entertaining. The center building has been added to over the years, but the fashionable resort, as a whole, is in excellent condition.

Matewan Historic District

Location: Matewan, Mingo County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, social reform

Statement of significance: The Matewan Historic District is exceptionally significant in the history of labor organization in America. It was the scene of the “Matewan Massacre” of May 19, 1920, in which coal company officials tried to remove union workers from company housing. The conflict was precipitated by striking coal miners who demanded the company recognize the legitimacy of the United Mine Workers of America. The coal companies retaliated by bringing in armed guards to evict miners from local mines and their families from company housing. The ensuing conflict left ten people dead. The episode was a pivotal event in the eventual end of coal company control in West Virginia.

Old Main, Bethany College

Location: Bethany, Brooke County

Relevant issues: Education

Web site: www.bethanywv.edu/tourcampus/oldmain.html

Statement of significance: Old Main has been the dominant building at this small, rural college in West Virginia’s panhandle since it was erected between 1858 and 1871. The building also represents the college’s pivotal historical role as the headquarters of Alexander Campbell, a principal founder of the Christian Church (the Disciples of Christ); the college is the fountainhead institution of more than one hundred colleges and universities established in the United States by the church. The phenomenon is intimately linked to the Scots-Irish ethnic settlement of the American frontier. Additionally, Old Main is one of the country’s earliest intact large-scale examples of collegiate Gothic architecture.

Reber Radio Telescope

Location: Green Bank, Pocahontas County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: Designed and built in 1937 by Grote Reber, this is the first parabolic antenna specifically designed and built to do research in the newly emerging field of radio astronomy. An amateur astronomer and electronics expert, Reber was from 1937 until after World War II the world’s only active radio astronomer. His telescope design is the forerunner of the majority of present-day radio telescopes.

Traveller’s Rest

Location: Kearneysville, Jefferson County

Relevant issues: Military history, Revolutionary War

Statement of significance: A limestone house built by Continental army general Horatio Gates (c. 1728-1806), this was his permanent residence until 1790. Patriot forces led by General Gates compelled the surrender of General John Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga in October, 1777. American troops under Gates were, in turn, defeated by First Marquess Cornwallis at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, on August 16, 1780.

West Virginia Independence Hall

Location: Wheeling, Ohio County

Relevant issues: Civil War, political history

Statement of significance: Originally constructed as a U.S. customhouse in the spring and summer of 1861, the building was the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia. It served as the capitol of the Restored (Unionist) Government of Virginia between 1861 and 1863. The first constitutional convention for the new state of West Virginia also took place here, earning it the name of Independence Hall.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Location: Wheeling, Ohio County

Relevant issues: Art and architecture, science and technology

Statement of significance: This is the oldest major long-span suspension bridge in the world, with a span of more than one thousand feet. This bridge is possibly the nation’s most significant extant antebellum engineering structure. Its construction established American leadership in the building of suspension bridges.