CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – There are over 2,600 sites nationwide, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks. Of these landmarks, 16 of them are right here in West Virginia.
The title of National Historic Landmark is given to buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts that illustrate the heritage of the United States. According to the National Parks Service, each one represents an outstanding aspect of American history and culture.
Here are the ones in the Mountain State:
Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church – Taylor County
The Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia is recognized as the birthplace of Mother’s Day in the U.S. It is now referred to as the International Mother’s Day Shrine and holds no religious affiliation.
The first Mother’s Day was celebrated there in 1908 when Anna Jarvis of Grafton wanted a day to celebrate her late mother, according to the Shrine’s website. The church continued the celebration of mothers there until 1966. After that, the church was turned into a Shrine to mothers everywhere. It was named to West Virginia’s list of National Historic Landmarks on October 5, 1992.
To this day, the Shrine hosts Mother’s Day celebrations every year and recognizes the West Virginia Mother of the Year.
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Martinsburg Shops – Berkeley County
According to the National Parks Service, this three-building complex is one of the only remaining examples of innovative nineteenth-century engineering and industrial architecture. The site also played a critical part in American labor movements, including The Great Railway Strike of 1877, the Westward expansion along the B&O Railroad, and the Civil War.
The Shops were recognized as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003.
Read the full story of The Great Railway Strike, which fought for fair pay in the railroad industry nationwide.
Campbell Mansion – Brooke County
Campbell Mansion was the home of Bethany College founder Alexander Campbell. Build between 1795 and 1840, the house still has a lot of the original decor, including its wallpaper and brickwork. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and registered as a National Historic Landmark on April 4, 1994. The mansion is available for tours. Learn more.
Clover Site – Cabell County
Clover Site is an 11-acre archeological site just north of Huntington. According to The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Clover was a large Native American village that dates back to the Protohistoric period between 1550 and 1600 A.D.
Items including ceramics, stone tools, and bone tools and ornaments have been excavated from the site. It was named a National Historic Landmark on April 27, 1992. Read more.
Davis and Elkins Historic District – Randolph County
Four buildings on the Davis & Elkins College campus are considered the D&E Historic District. They include the homes and buildings associated with Henry Gassaway Davis (1823-1916) and Stephen Benton Elkins (1841-1911), who were dominating figures in the politics and economy of West Virginia in the late 19th century.
The buildings include the Gate House, which sits at the front of the campus and holds the Office of Public Safety, Halliehurst Mansion, which holds offices for college staff, Graceland Mansion, which has been converted into an inn, and the Icehouse, which up until 2020 was used to host events for college students. The buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark on June 7, 1988.
Elkins Coal and Coke Company Historic District – Preston County
The Elkins Coal and Coke Company Historic District consists of 140 beehive ovens that were the last operating coke ovens in the U.S. According to Landmark Hunter, the site at Bretz is an example of a turn of the century coke processing facility. The site was built in 1906 and become a National Historic Landmark on May 4, 1983.
Coke is a fossil fuel that has a lower carbon content than coal.
Grave Creek Mound – Marshall County
This famous West Virginia landmark in Moundsville is the largest discovered Adena Burial mound and is one of the largest Native American burial mounds in the country at 62 feet tall and 240 feet in diameter. It dates back to 250-150 B.C. (well over 2000 years ago), according to the National park Service.
It is also West Virginia’s oldest National Historic Landmark and was deemed so on July 19, 1964.
The Greenbrier – Greenbrier County
The Greenbrier is one of the oldest resorts in the country and is currently owned by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. The resort was originally built for rich Southerners, according to the National Park Service.
The Greenbrier, which resembles the White House, was also made into an emergency fallout shelter for Congress during the Cold War. If something would have happened to the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers would have moved to the Greenbrier which has a bunker carved into a mountainside. Tours of the bunker are available.
The Greenbrier became a National Historic Landmark on February 18, 1997.
Matewan Historic District – Mingo County
The Matewan Historic District is the site of the Battle of Matewan or Matewan Massacre in 1920, which is considered one of the most famous and deadly events in the West Virginia mine wars, according to the National parks Service. 10 people were killed in the dispute over striking mineworkers. The Matewan Massacre added fuel to the fire of the regional labor struggle, and by July 1920, over 90 percent of miners in Mingo County had pledged the union oath.
The district was named a National Historic Landmark on February 18, 1997.
Matewan is also the location of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.
Old Main, Bethany College – Brooke County
Old Main is part of Bethany College and currently holds an auditorium, lecture rooms, offices, labs and even a greenhouse. According to the Society of Architectural Historians, Old Main is one of West Virginia’s largest nineteenth-century structures and an exceptional example of American Gothic Revival architecture. It was built to beautify the college again after a fire in 1857.
It was named a National Historic Landmark in December of 1990.
Reber Radio Telescope – Pocahantas County
This telescope at the Greenbank Observatory was originally built by Grote Reber in 1937 near Chicago. It was a huge advancement in radio technology and Reber made the first surveys of radio waves from the sky on that telescope, according to the Green Bank Observatory.
The telescope’s original site was destroyed in the 1950s; it was taken apart, sold, and reinstalled in Greenbank, West Virginia. Reber oversaw the installation himself in 1959 and 60. Read more. It became a National Historic Landmark on December 20, 1989.
Traveller’s Rest – Jefferson County
Traveller’s Rest is a plantation home that was built by English migrant Horatio Gates in 1773. During the Revolutionary War, Gates built an impressive military repertoire as an American general fighting against his own people. Despite several mistakes during the War, Gates is credited with the success of the second Battle of Saratoga in 1777 where over 5,800 English troops were taken prisoner in “one of the greatest victories of the War,” according to Traveller’s Rest’s historical documentation. After on and off success as a military general in the next six years and losing his wife and son, Gates eventually married a wealthy woman in Maryland and freed all of the plantation slaves at Traveller’s Rest.
The over 200-acre plantation was named a National Historic Landmark in November of 1972.
Alexander Wade House – Monongalia County
The house was the home of Monongalia County Superintendant Alexander Wade from 1872 to 1904. Wade introduced the graded system into American education which was later adopted nationwide. An article from the Morgantown Evening Post in 1904 called Wade, “the most distinguished, public school educator West Virginia has ever produced,” according to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History archives.
The house itself is a brick It’s located on Prarie Street in Morgantown. It was added to West Virginia’s National Historic Landmarks on December 21, 1965.
West Virginia Independence Hall – Ohio County
Independence Hall in Wheeling is the birthplace of West Virginia. According to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, in December 1862, President Lincoln received the statehood bill for the creation of new West Virginia and on December 31, President Lincoln signed the bill and West Virginia achieved statehood on June 20, 1863. The bill was drafted at the Wheeling Custom House, now known as West Virginia Independence Hall.
The building itself is made of hand-cut sandstone and opened in 1859. It was Wheeling’s first building with central heat and flushing toilets. It is currently a museum and open for tours. It became a National Historic Landmark on June 20, 1988.
Weston Hospital – Lewis County
Now called the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, this Weston mental institution was operational from 1864 until 1994. At its peak in the 1950s, it held up to 2,400 patients and suffered from severe overcrowding and poor conditions. It closed after its treatment methods became outdated.
The building itself is also the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, according to the Asylum’s website. It is also thought to be haunted and is open for both historical and paranormal tours. It was named a National Historic Landmark while it was still operational as a hospital on June 21, 1990.
Wheeling Suspension Bridge – Ohio County
After a long legal fight with Pittsburgh, the creation of a bridge from Wheeling to Wheeling Island was completed in 1849, according to the Ohio County Public Library. The bridge allowed for massive development in the city. In 1854, the bridge was destroyed by a wind storm and the legal battle began again as soon as work on a replacement was started. Pittsburgh again appealed to the Supreme Court. But, this time, Wheeling won, and the new bridge was completed in 1856.
It was the first suspension bridge of its kind when it was built, and to this day, it is the oldest suspension bridge still in use. It became a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975.
Mother Jones Prison (Withdrawal of Designation) – Kanawha County
The Mother Jones Prison was named a National Historic Landmark in April of 1992, but that status was revoked in September 1997. Mother Jones was a labor leader who fought on behalf of industrial workers in the Kanawha-New River coalfield. According to the National Parks Service, Mother Jones worked during five major strikes when she was as old at 84 during the early 1900s. In 1913, she was arrested, sentenced to 25 years in prison and imprisoned at Mrs. Carney’s Boarding House in Pratt, where she still fought for labor causes. She was later released and pardoned.
The boarding house location lost its designation as a National Historic Landmark after the building where Mother Jones was held was torn down in 1996. Read more.