Governor William MacCorkle died on September 24, 1930, at age 73. He was the last of six Democrats to serve as governor over 26 consecutive years. This was the longest period of domination of the governorship by one party in our state’s history.
MacCorkle promoted the development of West Virginia’s resources while worrying about the consequences of industrialization. He fretted in his inaugural address that ‘‘the state [was] rapidly passing under the control of large foreign and non-resident landowners.’’ As governor, he emphasized road building, higher standards for physicians, and greater accountability for banks and insurance companies.
MacCorkle was governor from 1893 to 1897. At the end of his term, he resumed his Charleston law practice. He devoted much of his effort to developing industry in the Kanawha Valley. This period saw the building of railways, interurban rail lines, coal operations, and manufacturing enterprises.
He lived in the South Hills area, overlooking downtown Charleston. His handsome mansion, later a museum, was named Sunrise for his ancestral home in Virginia. It remains a Charleston landmark, and his cremated ashes are entombed in a shrine on the property’s Carriage Trail.