History of Art and Architecture

Friends of Frick Fine Arts Lecture


Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

"A Dome of Majestic Proportion" : Researching Cass Gilbert's West Virginia State Capitol

Drs. David and Ann Thomas Wilkins

In 1921, when West Virginia’s Victorian Capitol burned, the opportunity arose for the state to erect a new structure that would enhance the state’s prestige and give West Virginia a national presence. To accomplish this end, the Governor and members of the Capitol Building Commission chose world-renowned Cass Gilbert as architect.

Gilbert’s extensive archives allowed us to recreate the story of the design, financing, and construction of the new Capitol (1921-32) in the voices of those present and responsible. Intrigue, political shenanigans, and even personality conflicts are all part of the long and complex story that resulted in a splendid structure, both a product of its time and a reflection of the past.