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January 7, 1924: Ground Broken on New West Virginia Capitol Building

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On January 7, 1924, ground was broken for West Virginia’s new state capitol building in Charleston’s East End. The previous capitol, located in downtown Charleston, had been destroyed by fire three years before.

The new capitol was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who’d previously designed the Woolworth Building in New York and state capitols for Arkansas and Minnesota. He’d later design the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.

The new West Virginia Capitol was built in three stages. The West Wing was completed in March 1925. The East Wing opened in December 1927. The main building, constructed between 1930 and 1932, features a striking rotunda, a Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier, and a towering dome that stands four feet taller than the U.S. Capitol.

The entire project cost nearly $9.5 million and was completed during the worst throes of the Great Depression. Due to money constraints, some of Gilbert’s design elements had to be reworked or eliminated from the final construction. West Virginia’s capitol is considered one of the most beautiful in the country and is a great source of pride for West Virginians.

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