West Virginia State Capitol

Completed: 1932
Architect: Cass Gilbert

Stock Photo

Prior to the American Civil War, the counties that would ultimately form West Virginia were a part of the state of Virginia; the state capitol was in Richmond, Virginia. After Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the northwest counties of Virginia loyal to the United States started the process which would ultimately create the State of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.

Settling on a state capital location, however, proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheeling and Charleston. In 1877, however, the state's citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston was chosen and, eight years later, the first capitol building was opened. After a fire in 1921, a hastily-built structure was opened but it too burned down in 1927. Two people were killed in that fire and a memorial was built in memory of the victims.

A Capitol Building Commission, created by the Legislature in 1921, authorized construction of the present capitol. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the buff limestone structure that was to have a final cost of just under $10 million. After the three stages of construction were completed, Governor William G. Conley dedicated the capitol on June 20, 1932.

Gilbert liked his design of the West Virginia chamber's interior so well that he reused part of the design for the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. chamber is a larger version of the one found in the West Virginia Capitol's East Wing.


ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named after England's Queen Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen"


STATE MOTTO: Montani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)

1872 PREAMBLE: Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...

ADDRESS:  1811 Washington St E, Charleston, WV 25311