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West Virginia Independence Hall to host June 20 statehood celebration

6/17/03

The celebration of West Virginia Day on Friday, June 20, at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling will feature children’s activities, speeches and songs, reenactors and a mock court case. The events, which are free and open to the public, will mark the state’s 140th anniversary.

The day’s festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with activities for children, including West Virginia songs and stories performed by the group Imagine That, balloon animals and calliope music. Children also can make an Abraham Lincoln penny pendant in honor of the U.S. president who signed the bill that made West Virginia a state.

At a 12:05 p.m. ceremony, reenactors will recite portions of speeches delivered by state leaders during the original West Virginia Day celebration in 1863, followed by patriotic and West Virginia songs. The Wildcat Regiment Band from Home, Pa., will perform a concert of authentic Civil War music at 1 p.m. Free refreshments, including birthday cake and punch, will be served.

At 2 p.m., visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the facility, followed by a showing of the short statehood film “For Liberty and Union.” In addition, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Kirk’s Photo Art store will take pictures of people in Civil War-era attire for a $1 fee.

The day’s activities will culminate with a program focusing on the constitutionality of the state’s creation, which was questioned even before Lincoln signed the statehood bill on Dec. 31, 1862. During the mock court case in which Virginia petitions the court to declare the creation of West Virginia null and void, attorneys Patrick Cassidy of Wheeling and Alvin Emch of Charleston will argue opposite viewpoints. Wheeling attorney James F. Companion will act as moderator. A panel of three federal judges, including Frederick P. Stamp Jr. of the United States District Court, Northern District of West Virginia, and Robert B. King and M. Blane Michael of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, will hear the argument. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in West Virginia Independence Hall’s historic courtroom.

For more information about the June 20 celebration, call Gerry Reilly, director of West Virginia Independence Hall, at (304) 238-1300.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is owned and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays, and is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling. The facility is closed on Sundays in January and February.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about its programs. The Division is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone (304) 558-0220
Fax (304) 558-2779
ginny.painter@wvculture.org