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Chapter Three
Charleston Celebrates

1885 capitol

West Virginia Capitol, 1885-1921

"In the midst of a blinding snow storm Saturday at 12 M. the inaugural ceremonies which attended the transfer of the State affairs from the hands of one Democratic administration to another took place. - Kanawha Valley Democrat, March 9, 1893


Governor William A. MacCorkle

Governor's reception room

Governor's Reception Room

The inauguration on March 4, 1893, began with a procession of carriages from Gov. Aretas Brooks Fleming's residence on Washington Street to the capitol, accompanied by the Second Regiment band and military escort from Huntington. Fleming, incoming governor William A. MacCorkle, and other incoming and outgoing officials rode in the carriages. Because of the bad weather, the inaugural ceremonies were moved inside to the Senate Chamber. MacCorkle gave his inaugural speech from the Senate President's stand and then was administered the oath of office. MacCorkle had a reception in the capitol reception room following the ceremonies.

charleston map
Inauguration Schedule

Schedule for MacCorkle's Inauguration
William A. MacCorkle Collection


Inaugural Invitation
MacCorkle Collection


Title page of MacCorkle's
Inauguration Speech


Inaugural Ball Invitation
MacCorkle Collection

A first, MacCorkle held his reception and inaugural ball the night before the inauguration. The reception was held in the State Library, while the ball took place in the Senate Chamber, "lasting till after four o'clock" in the morning. The furniture had been removed from the Senate and canvas laid over the carpet for the dancing, which consisted of eighteen dances. MacCorkle, "youthful and beaming," and his wife received from 600 to 800 people while Jacoby's Orchestra played a program of music. Supper was provided at 11:00 p.m.


Governor George W. Atkinson

Four years later, MacCorkle's successor, George Wesley Atkinson, was inaugurated on the steps on the west side of the capitol. After the Rev. Dr. A. B. Riker of the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church offered the prayer, retiring governor William MacCorkle introduced the incoming governor. According to the Charleston newspapers, the oath of office was administered to Atkinson prior to his inaugural address, a change of order from prior inaugurals. (The Wheeling Intelligencer listed the oath after the address.)

An informal reception was held in the governor's reception room until 2:00 p.m., at which time Atkinson, MacCorkle, and invitees moved to a reviewing stand on the Capitol Street side of the capitol to watch a parade. Headed by the Elkins Cadets from Wheeling, the parade marched from Kanawha Street out Capitol Street to Washington, around the capitol, and then down Capitol to Kanawha. This was something new for gubernatorial inaugurations, as previous ceremonies had involved a procession of the incoming and outgoing officers to the place of inauguration, rather than a post-ceremony parade at which the governor was a spectator rather than participant.

"Today marks an era in the history of the State. It is not merely the succession of one constitutional executive by another; but the party which for twenty-five years has held the reins of government gives away in the control of the State to its competitor." - Gov. William A. MacCorkle's introductory remarks at Atkinson's inauguration, March 4, 1897

"Last night at 7:30 o'clock, the special train on the Ohio River railroad, provided for the transportation of the Elkins Cadets from Wheeling to Charleston, where they will be the feature in the inaugural parade . . .

The club goes nearly seventy strong, . . . [and] of these, twenty-eight are in the excellent drum and bugle corps.

. . . That the boys will make the hit of the day at the Capital City goes without saying for there is no other marching organization in the state that is in the same class." - Wheeling Intelligencer, March 4, 1897

"For over an hour the rockets in countless numbers and endless variety tore their way heavenward and bursting, rivaled the very stars in their dazzling beauty and magnificance.

And to crown their almost phenomenal exhibit, a picture of Governor Atkinson framed in a frame of blazing glory and flooded with golden light was thrown on the still night, and the crowded, surging mass of humanity surrounding the square broke out in a shout that shook the earth." - Charleston Daily Mail, March 5, 1897

In the evening, fireworks were displayed in a lot opposite the capitol building. Afterwards, a reception was held in the House of Delegates from 9:30 to 10:30, with Governor Atkinson, who was a widower at the time, with his eldest daughter Bessie; ex-Governor MacCorkle and his wife; and the Hon. W. M. O. Dawson, escorting Atkinson's second daughter Florence, among those in the receiving line. Ewart's and Jacoby's orchestras combined to provide music for the inaugural ball in the Senate. A five-course meal was served in the Supreme Court. The decorations in the various capitol rooms, "the finest ever seen in Charleston," were the work of a professional designer from Cincinnati who carried out his plan despite conflict with Governor MacCorkle.

"The big clock in the tower was tolling the witching hour of four and dawn just breaking when the unwelcome strains of Home Sweet Home announced the close of the grandest ball ever held in the State of West Virginia." - Charleston Daily Gazette, March 5, 1897


Governor Albert B. White

March 4, 1901, provided a downpour for the inauguration of Albert Blakeslee White. The occasion began with a procession of the governor, governor-elect, the White Marching Club and Citizens' Band of Parkersburg, a company of National Guard, and various state officials from the Ruffner Hotel to the capitol. The ceremony took place on the Capitol Street side of the building and involved the usual elements: address by Governor Atkinson, inaugural address by White, and administeration of the oath of office. The reception was held in the governor's room, a more formal reception that evening in the House of Delegates, the ball in the Senate with music provided by the Burlew Opera House Orchestra, and the supper in the Supreme Court.

Ruffner Hotel
Postcard Collection

William M. O. Dawson's inaugural activities began with a reception and ball held the night before the inauguration, with the reception held in the governor's reception rooms and the ball held again in the Senate, accompanied by the Burlew Opera House Orchestra. The Ladies Aid Society of St. John's Episcopal Church prepared the supper, which was served in the House of Delegates.

dawson invitation

Invitation to Dawson's reception
and ball. Sc82-161


Governor William M. O. Dawson

On March 4, a procession of mounted police, Chief Marshal N. S. Burlew, the Second Regiment Band, a battalion of National Guard, and carriages of various officials, which had assembled near the Capitol Annex, processed up Lee Street to Dawson's residence. Dawson joined Governor White and former governors Atkinson and MacCorkle in the first carriage, and the group processed to the capitol. Inaugural ceremonies were held in the House of Delegates and opened with the playing of "America." Remarks by MacCorkle, Atkinson, and White preceded the inaugural address of Dawson. Judge Brannon of the Supreme Court administered the oath of office. A reception in the governor's reception room followed.


Governor William E. Glasscock

"Thousands of flags, bunting and streamers floated by the breezes yesterday from the business houses of Charleston. Nearly every window along the line of march fluttered a flag and across the front of many of the largest buildings were great red, white and blue streamers. The hotels were proudly decorated both inside and out.

At the state house the decorations were beautiful. Coats of arms, flags, bunting and streamers were placed in an artistic manner in the corridors, while in the halls where the ceremonies took place the national colors were seen on every hand.

Almost the entire front of the main state house building was covered with red, white and blue streamers." - Charleston Gazette, March 5, 1909

The inauguration of William E. Glasscock began with a procession comprised of many of the same elements as had been part of the inauguration four years earlier: mounted police, Chief Marshal N. S. Burlew, the Second Regiment Band, a battalion of National Guard, and carriages of various officials. This time, Governor Dawson and four former governors, Fleming, MacCorkle, Atkinson, and White, participated in the procession. Assembling in front of the capitol on Lee Street, the procession marched to Broad, out to Kanawha, and west on Kanawha to the Kanawha Hotel (corner Kanawha and Summers),

Hotel Kanawha

Hotel Kanawha.
Postcard Collection

where William Glasscock joined the group. Continuing an elaborate route, the procession moved north to Washington, back to Broad, then to Lee and Capitol, arriving at the capitol.

The inaugural ceremonies were held in the House of Delegates, with Dawson presiding, and consisted of an invocation of Glasscock's pastor Dr. Charles K. Jenness of Morgantown; remarks from former governors MacCorkle, Atkinson, and White; the inaugural address of Glasscock; and administration of the oath of office by Judge Ira Robinson. A reception was held in the governor's reception room, and a ball was held in the Senate in the evening, with supper again served in the House of Delegates by the Ladies Aid Society of St. John's.

glasscock dance card

Dance card for Glasscock's
inaugural ball. Joe Smith Collection

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West Virginia Archives and History