Sunday, July 26, 2009

West Union, West Virginia : A Photo Journey

Fingerpuppet makers worked intently after the storytelling and made some creative puppets. About 50 children participated, a testament to the parents and to the library for encouraging children to be part of the summer reading program.

This is a quick tour of West Union, West Virginia, where I told stories on Thursday for the library.

West Union's Public Library was once an opera house, sponsoring visits by many famous performers in its heyday.

Beautiful homes along some streets testify to the affluent past of the town, where the driller and logger was king when West Union was established. The town was originally known as Lewisport, but in 1857 the B&O railroad put in a station and the name was changed, first to Union and then to West Union. The town is the county seat of Doddridge County, named for an early West Virginia settler named Phillip Doddridge.

The City Hall appears to have been a bank building in its beginning, and there must have been other buildings adjoining the now lone-standing hall. I believe it was a bank because so often banks were built on corners like this in the late 1800's-early 1900's.

The courthouse is the most outstanding building in West Union, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It crowns the highest point in town and is beautifully restored. We did not have time to go inside, so we have that to look forward to on our next visit. I have been told that the interior has all original woodwork--and the stained glass windows must be gorgeous with light coming through.

Lady Justice with her scales is a focal point of the courthouse's architecture.

West Union celebrates its founding every July with the WestUnionFest. Who can resist bed races, outhouse parades, Native American encampments and Civil War re-enactments and a Liar's Contest? We didn't hear about the Fest until too late to attend, but it's on our calendar for next year.

Want more? Google Books offers an online version of a history of Doddridge and Ritchie counties, complete with many historic photos.


Susan at Stony River said...

Outhouse parades? I missed OUTHOUSE PARADES? *sob* I love Liar's Contests too, and keep trying to get my husband to join in (he's a natural...)

Granny Sue said...

I wish you could be here in May, Susan, for the West Virgina Liar's Contest at Vandalia. I bet your hubby would wow them.

I'll call you this week--get together maybe the second weekend in August? I hope you're still here by then.

Cathy said...

It's so nice to see so many historic buildings. Another place I'd love to visit. Really nice photos!

Markin said...

Banks were often at corners -- but so, I believe, were saloons, Or at least pubs, in London, but perhaps that was true in the U.S. as well.

Lovely photographs.

Granny Sue said...

hmmmm---so it could have been a saloon! that's a thought. I will have to find out. Thanks for the idea, Markin.

Markin said...

You're welcome. There must be plats or title conveyance records kept in or by that City Hall. The local history librarian or local history society (there's always either one or the other) would be another good resource -- in my experience, they're remarkably good at ferreting out information. (Not, of course, that you'd need any research hints [grin].)

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