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August 20, 1851: Statue of Patrick Henry Dedicated in Morgantown


On August 20, 1851, a nine-foot wood carving of Patrick Henry was dedicated atop the Monongalia County Courthouse in Morgantown. Henry had served as the governor of Virginia in 1776, when Monongalia became a county. It was moved from the cupola to indoor storage in 1890. Today, it’s considered the oldest sculpture in West Virginia.

Perhaps the state’s second-oldest statue is a monument honoring Confederate war dead in Romney. It was unveiled at Indian Mound Cemetery in 1867, making it one of the first of its kind to honor Confederate soldiers.

Another old statue is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, dedicated in Wheeling in 1883. This 16-foot stone monument features three life-sized carved figures. It originally stood in front of the old state capitol building, which became the city and county building when the seat of government moved to Charleston in 1885. The monument’s been moved to various locations ever since. It now resides in Wheeling Park, though citizens hope to move it back downtown.

Other old statues include Civil War monuments in Jefferson, Berkeley, Hardy, Monroe, Greenbrier, Cabell, Randolph, Summers, and Wood counties.

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