West Virginia State Capitol Building

West Virginia State Capitol Building

Charleston, West Virginia

West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions, breaking away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The new state was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, and was a key Civil War border state. West Virginia was the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state and the only state to be formed without the consent of the parent state.

Wheeling was the first capital of West Virginia. In 1870, the State Legislature designated Charleston as the capital city. In 1875, the Legislature reversed their decision and voted to return the Capital to Wheeling. The capital moved so often in its early years that it was nicknamed the “floating capital”. In 1877, however, state citizens voted on the final location of their capital. In 1885 the capital moved from Wheeling to Charleston, where it has remained.

The present Capitol took eight years to complete at a cost of just under $10 million. Governor William G. Conley dedicated the new Capitol on the state’s 69th birthday, June 20, 1932.

The exterior of the classical-styled state capital building is buff Indiana limestone. More than 700 train carloads of limestone and 4,640 tons of steel were used in its construction. The magnificent 293- foot gold dome, which tops the structure, is five feet higher than the dome of the U.S. Capitol. The entire dome is gilded in 23 ½ karat gold leaf applied to the copper and lead roof in tiny 3 3/8 inch squares.

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