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December 4, 1876: West Virginia’s Third Capitol Building Dedicated in Wheeling

Capitol of West Virginia, 1875-85
West Virginia State Archives
Capitol of West Virginia, 1875-85

On December 4, 1876, West Virginia’s third capitol building was dedicated in Wheeling. The stone building was four stories tall with two wings and topped by a cupola.

From 1863 to 1870, the state’s first capitol had been located in Wheeling’s Linsly Institute, where state offices shared space with a private school. In 1870, the seat of government was relocated to Charleston but returned to Wheeling again in 1875. The new Wheeling capitol hadn’t been completed yet, so state officials once again took up offices in Linsly Institute for a year and a half and at another site until they could move into the new building.

The massive structure in downtown Wheeling was destined to be West Virginia’s capitol building for less than a decade. State voters soon chose Charleston as the permanent seat of state government, and the capital returned to Charleston in 1885.

The former capitol building in Wheeling became the city-county building for Wheeling and Ohio County. In 1956, Wheeling leaders demolished the former capitol despite its historical and architectural significance—a decision still lamented by those who remember the old capitol building’s grandeur.

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