Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fire a part of early life downtown

We went to the premier of A Moving Monument this evening at the WV Cultural Center. This film reminded me once again of the prominent role that fire played in downtown environments in the latter part of the 19th and early/mid part of the 20th century and the role fire has played directly and indirectly in 209 Capitol.

The location of the WV Capitol moved a number of times and was once located on Capitol Street and was bounded by Washington and Lee and Capitol and Dickenson Street (this is where the old Kanawha Valley Bank Building, The Diamond Department Store, and Stone and Thomas were located). That building burnt on January 3, 1921 which caused the new Capitol Building to be constructed ( by architect Cass Gilbert and contractor The George A. Fuller Company) at its current location .

This cleared the way for the new Diamond Department store which of course was then housed in 209 Capitol. The building owner, Wehrle B. Geary then leased 209 to Kresges.

During the history of the building, 209 was damaged by fire on the north side by the Woolworth’s fire in 1949 and earlier on the south side by a fire in the adjacent hotel.

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