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Chapter Six
The Era of Television

1932 capitol

West Virginia Capitol, 1932-present.
Postcard Collection


Governor William C. Marland

Beginning one hour before the start of the formal ceremony inaugurating William Casey Marland on January 19, 1953, four high school bands performed outside the capitol, each at a different entrance. Three of the bands (Mullens, Oceana, and Pineville) were from Marland's home county of Wyoming. The fourth band was the Elkhorn High School band from McDowell County.

Excerpts from Marland's inaugural program

inaugural tickets

Inaugural tickets.
Joe Smith Collection, Ms2006-104

"The new governor delivered his inaugural address from a rostrum festooned in dark red cloth and bearing the seal of West Virginia. Directly in front of the rostrum was a brilliant golden floral display, and on sides were banks of red and white flowers--carnations, gladioli and sweet peas, interlaced with green rhododendron." - Charleston Gazette, January 20, 1953


Inaugural footage.
Courtesy Morrow Library, Marshall University

Although weather conditions would have permitted the inauguration to be held outdoors, the ceremony was planned as an indoor event. Marland was not inaugurated in the Senate chamber, however. Instead, the event took place in the capitol rotunda, with Marland and other dignitaries seated on a two-story platform under the dome and more than two thousand seats filling the legislative corridors. Among those seated on the platform were former Governor Henry D. Hatfield, United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis, and UMWA District 17 President William Blizzard.

Ceremonies began at noon with the playing of the national anthem, the invocation, and the singing of "The Lord's Prayer" by young Julliard-trained tenor James L. Bailey of Charleston. After taking the oath of office, Governor Marland, who, in a departure from the formal morning attire of his predecessors, wore a dark blue suit, delivered his inaugural address. The inauguration was filmed, and, according to the Raleigh Register, film was to be flown to Huntington for airing on WSAZ-TV.

A public reception was held in the governor's reception room in the evening.

"Immediately after the inaugural, about 300 persons, . . ., strolled to the gubernatorial mansion for a luncheon and reception. A buffet-style luncheon was served.

The guests were served sliced Virginia ham, turkey and tomato aspic from a table banked with red and white carnations. Sweet potato balls were rolled in corn flakes and stuffed with marshmallows.

A string quartet played from the mansion's mezzanine.

Guests seated at six long tables in the dining room and adjoining rooms were served ice cream, covered with a replica of the American flag, for des[s]ert. ." - Charleston Gazette, January 20, 1953

charleston map


Governor Cecil H. Underwood

inaugural program

Excerpts from Underwood's Inaugural Program

In a move similar to that of Matthew Neely in 1941, Cecil Harland Underwood was administered the oath of office at 12:06 a.m. on Monday, January 14, 1957, in the Hotel Kanawha by Wayman R. Brown, a notary public and agent for Columbian Fuel Corporation. In order to have the oath officially filed, Brown and others then visited Secretary of State D. Pitt O'Brien, administered the oath to him, and had him sign Underwood's oath.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., the inaugural parade began, traveling east on Kanawha Boulevard from Summers Street to the capitol. Although 23 bands had been planned, weather made several late and kept some from arriving at all. Temperatures were below freezing, and several inches of snow had fallen overnight. A few participants slipped and fell on the icy ground during the parade. A reviewing stand had been erected across the boulevard from the capitol for Underwood and other dignitaries. WCHS-TV and WSAZ-TV covered the parade, and WSAZ-TV provided the first live television coverage of the inauguration of a West Virginia governor.

At the end of the parade, Underwood entered the capitol only to exit on the other side of the building, where a platform had been constructed over the fountain. After the new governor took the oath of office for the second time, the West Virginia National Guard gave a 19-gun salute before Underwood gave his inaugural address. Before the benediction, Prince A. Williams, a music professor at West Virginia State College, sang "Onward Christian Soldiers."

The formal ceremonies ended and the governor held a reception for the high school musicians who had participated in the parade, the first and only time that such an event was held as part of a gubernatorial inauguration. The students also were provided a box lunch. Starting at 8:00 p.m. that evening, a public reception was held in the governor's reception room; the Underwood's three-year-old daughter Cecelia had her own receiving line for several very young attendees. Afterwards, a semi-formal dance, sponsored by the Young Republicans, was held at the Daniel Boone Hotel.

inaugural parade

Reviewing stand during the inaugural parade.
Underwood Collection


View toward reviewing stand.
Underwood Collection

underwood and marland

William C. Marland and Cecil H.


Supreme Court Justice James Riley
administering the oath of office
to Cecil H. Underwood


Cecil Underwood addressing
the crowd


View of the inauguration

All four photos from the Underwood Collection


Inaugural footage (no audio)

Four years later, on January 16, 1961, Underwood's successor also chose to take the oath at a midnight ceremony. At 12:02 a.m. William Wallace Barron was administered the oath of office by Secretary of State Joe Burdett in the Board of Public Works board room. Members of the West Virginia Highlanders from Elkins, Barron's hometown, set off cannon fire at the riverbank, and Barron signed into law a temporary increase in the sales tax. After the fact, the midnight ceremony was repeated for television and radio crews.


Governor William W. Barron

inaugural program

Excerpts from Barron's Inaugural Program


Invitation to inaugural ceremonies.

Twelve hours later, Barron took the oath of office a second time during the formal inaugural ceremonies and gave his inaugural address before a crowd of between two and three thousand people who had filled the second-floor rotunda of the capitol. Barron and more than ninety other individuals were on a temporary platform built in the rotunda, much like the one Marland had used eight years earlier. Among those on the platform were the new governor's wife Opal and three daughters and former governors Homer Holt and Okey Patteson. Between Barron's oath and speech, three 105 howitzers on the statehouse lawn provided a 19-gun salute. In what appears to be a first, a member of the Jewish religion, Rabbi Samuel Cooper of Charleston, gave the invocation.

inaugural speech

Barron inaugural speech footage


Ticket to inaugural ceremonies.

"A 20 by 40-foot American flag with 48 stars (but still official) trailed down the catwalk and was the center of attention among decorative pieces.

Red, white and blue bunting was draped down the marble walls and columns and around the well wall of the rotunda. Cardboard state seals and shields of patriotic design added to the decoration and helped conceal some of the approximately 100 microphones planted in the long hallway.

Clumps of rhododendron provided a bit of state splendor for the platform, with its wooden floor painted green, and for the speakers podium, with green carpeting and maroon side drapes trimmed with gold.

Ropes of laurel circled the well and the speaker's stand and were conspicuous elsewhere on the bunting and in the general scheme of things. . ." - Charleston Gazette, January 17, 1961

Following the formal ceremonies, a parade began on the river side of the capitol and proceded down the boulevard to Capitol Street and out to Smith Street. Barron, Underwood, and other dignitaries exited their cars at the old federal building (current Kanawha County Public Library) on Capitol and stood in a cold drizzle as the bands passed. Those scheduled to perform were three bands from Elkins (the high school and junior high bands and the West Virginia Highlanders Legion Pipe group); high school bands from Logan, South Charleston, Follansbee, Guyan Valley, Grafton, and Magnolia; and the 249th National Guard unit from Fairmont.
inaugural footage

Inaugural footage

federal building

Old federal building in Charleston
Archives Collection


Schedule of inaugural activities

inaugural tea

Inaugural tea

Three official social activities on inauguration day were a tea, "a first," at the Woman's Club, with music provided by the John Lambros trio; a reception in the West Virginia Room at the Civic Center, attended by more than 5,000 people according to estimates; and a ball in the Civic Center arena, attended by more than 2,500, with music provided by the Paul Wells Orchestra. All events were open to the public.
Civic Center

Charleston Civic Center.
Archives Collection


Ticket to inaugural ball


Governor Hulett C. Smith

inaugural program

Excerpts from Smith's Inaugural Program

On a cold, snowy January 18, 1965, Hulett Carlson Smith ascended to the office of governor. Despite the weather, the inauguration was held outdoors on the steps to the north portico. Eight television stations and 21 radio stations planned to carry the event, many of them live.

High school bands from Frankford, Matewan, and St. Marys played before the formal ceremonies. The invocation, singing of the national anthem, and, for the first time at an inauguration, singing of the "West Virginia Hills, one of the three official state songs, began the ceremonies. In a change from previous inaugurations, one that would be followed in all future inaugurations, the oath of office was administered to other state officials before the governor took his oath. Then, members of the First Reconnaisance Squadron, 150th Armored Cavalry, West Virginia National Guard, fired the 19-gun salute with M41 tanks. Smith's inaugural address was followed by the benediction.


Inaugural scene

inaugural bands

View of bands


Honor and color guards at Smith's inauguration

inaugural speech

Hulett Smith giving inaugural address

All inaugural pictures from the Smith Collection

Immediately following the ceremonies, a public reception that lasted more than three hours was held in the rotunda. Light refreshments (coffee and petit fours and cookies) were provided, and a 20-piece string section from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra provided music. Also open to the public was the inaugural ball held that evening at the Civic Center.

Inaugural reception in the capitol rotunda

inaugural ball

Governor and Mrs. Smith, and daughter Carolyn, at inaugural ball

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Taking the Oath

West Virginia Archives and History