Philippi Historic District
The Philippi Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2007, The Gombach Group.
The Philippi historic district is located in the town of Philippi which also serves as the county seat of Barbour County, West Virginia. The district contains resources dating from the mid-19th century, late 19th century, and early 20th century. It extends from the west end of the Philippi Covered Bridge south along U.S. 119 approximately 100 yards to include the Blue and Gray Park to Shooks Run to its confluence with the Tygart Valley River. From that point the district boundary follows the west bank of the Tygart Valley River southeast to a point west of the old Teter House, then turns east across the river directly behind Rite Aid (non-contributing) and the Old Teter House. The district boundary proceeds behind the homes located on the west side of south Main Street to Wilson Street, and includes the properties on both sides of Wilson Street. It then continues behind the houses on south Main Street to Wabash and Oak streets where it turns northwest to include the properties on the east side of south Main to Wolfe Street. It moves up Wolfe Street to Walnut Street and includes the properties located on the northeast side of Walnut Street to Court Street. It then proceeds northeast on Court Street to High Street and turns northwest to include the structures on the northeast side of High Street to Pike Street where it angles west to the corner of Walnut Alley and Walnut Street. It then follows Walnut Street back to Pike Street to Main Street to include the Presbyterian Church and the B & O Railroad Station/Philippi Museum and the Philippi Covered Bridge. The district includes all of the structures located within the boundaries as described above.
Philippi is typical of a rural Appalachian community with many small commercial businesses, public buildings, community churches, and private residences most of which were built at the turn of the century when the community was at the height of its opulence. Although Philippi has suffered the economic decline shared by many West Virginia communities the buildings have been maintained well and lend a high degree of authenticity to this charmingly nostalgic community.
When traveling south on U.S. Route 250 the visitor first encounters a wooden covered bridge, one of the most symbolic images of the town's historical heritage. Built in 1852, the bridge, being the only northern entrance to the town, served as a vital strategic position in the battle of June 3, 1861.
Generally recognized as the first land battle of the Civil War, it was at this bridge that Union forces led by Col. Benjamin Kelley met and defeated Confederate forces under Col. George A. Porterfield. The clash has been affectionately dubbed by Union sympathizers and local historians as the "Philippi Races."
After crossing the bridge, the road swings right on Main Street to the heart of the commercial district. Main Street is lined with many commercial buildings dating back to 1900. These building represent Italianate, Classical Revival, and International (Williams building) architectural styles. The commercial section of the town extends southeast on Main Street about five blocks then bends south where the residential section begins. The residential section of the district is lined with many prestigious Queen Anne (Creed House, Califf House, Mentzer House) and Italianate (Teter House) houses constructed of a variety of materials including stone, brick, and wood. The residential section of Main Street extends approximately four blocks, to Oak Street. Along these blocks lived many of the merchants and professionals who maintained places of business and offices in downtown Philippi.
Returning up Main Street, the district cuts east on Wolfe Street to Walnut Street where it includes many residential dwellings that date from c. 1859 to c. 1920 of the Queen Anne, Greek Revival, Georgian Revival (Schwirian House), and Four Square style. These homes are well maintained and have experienced more of less constant occupancy since the time of construction. At the corner of Mason and Main Streets there stands the old Philippi Post Office which is an excellent example of Federal architecture, and on Walnut Street directly across from the Court House stands an Italianate commercial building (Barbour Democrat). There is a charming, rough-cut, stone battlement wall that extends along the sidewalk for most of Walnut Street and on Pike Street there is a Methodist Church of handsome Gothic style (Crim Methodist Church).
The district includes four structures already listed on the National Register: the Railroad Depot/Museum, the Chessar House, the Barbour County Courthouse, and the covered bridge.
The Philippi Historic District is located along the Tygart Valley River, a major scenic asset. The district's boundary encompasses a significant portion of the river's northern and southern banks as a historic vista which provides a backdrop for the town and Philippi Covered Bridge. Another picturesque quality of the town is the court house square. Centered in the community and dominated by the tall, stone Romanesque-style courthouse, the town square presents a historic green space and focal point of government and business enterprise.
The Philippi Historic District is composed of commercial and residential resources that form, under Criterion C, a significant ensemble of 19th and early 20th century architecture in a small Appalachian county seat centered about a distinctive town square. These resources include a highly significant structure, the 1852 Philippi covered bridge, and street furniture such as iron fences and low stone retaining walls. The historic district has achieved additional significance under Criterion A as the site of the first land battle of the American Civil War, and as the focal point in and about the town square of long-standing political and governmental operations of the town and Barbour County.
Philippi, the county seat of Barbour County, is located on the Tygart Valley River, named after David Tygart, an early settler in the Beverly area, and was chartered in 1844 and incorporated in 1905. The first settlers of the area were Richard Cotteral and Charity Talbot, and their mother. They settled on Hacker's Creek two miles northwest of the present town of Philippi in 1780. The first settlement on the present site of the town was built in 1780 by William Anglin when he located his cabin on the track of 400 acres he owned. The place, initially called Anglin's Ford, passed through the hands of John Wilson, Daniel Booth, Judge Duncan, Eli Butcher, Elmore Hart, Thomas H. Height, and William Wilson, who, in 1843, laid out the plan for the town of Philippi. Under the ownership of Daniel Booth in 1800, the town's name was changed to Booth's Ferry. The ferry played an important part in transportation across the river until the covered bridge was built in 1852. Meanwhile, the town again changed hands and at the time Barbour County was formed in 1843, it belonged to William F. Wilson and William Shaw.
The town was renamed Philippi for Phillip Pendleton Barbour, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. It was originally to be named Phillipa -- the feminine form of Phillip in conformity with the Latin language. But because of misspellings and misunderstanding of the origin of the name (confusing it with the ancient city in Macedonia) the city was finally named Philippi.
The first land battle of the Civil War was fought here on June 3, 1861 and is known as the "Philippi Races" because of the speed with which the Confederate forces under Colonel George A. Porterfied retreated when routed at dawn by Federal troops under Colonel B. F. Kelley. The attack was launched by the Federals to protect and retain control of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the main line of communication between Washington and the West.
Philippi is also the home of Alderson-Broaddus College, a co-educational Baptist affiliated institution established in 1873.
The Philippi Historic District includes the town square, a tree shaded parcel circumscribed by Main Street to the southwest, Church Street to the northwest, Walnut Street to the northeast, and Court Street to the southeast. This significant green space is dominated by the Barbour County Courthouse (1903-05), a monumental Romanesque-style stone building designed by Uniontown, Pa., architect J. Charles Fulton. Within this building and around the square the workings of government witnessed the recording of deeds, probating wills, assessing property values, collecting taxes, and enforcing the laws that have affected the lives of the people of Philippi and Barbour County for three-quarters of a century. The Philippi town square attracted along its periphery numerous banking and legal interests. Few West Virginia communities possessed town squares, though those at Elizabeth, Wirt County, and Harrisville, Ritchie County, like the square at Philippi, are centered with tall masonry courthouses.
Surrounding the courthouse square is a fine group of commercial buildings and detached brick and frame residences. Many of the best houses were built by Philippi's most important citizens who owned downtown businesses or walked to banks, law offices, or government jobs near the town square. Clearly the largest and most diverse collection of such buildings in Barbour County, north-central West Virginia builders constructed mostly two and three-story commercial blocks, many of red brick with prominent metal or wood cornices. Brick corbeling, fretwork, and dogtooth patterns abound. High style buildings, such as the Neo Classical Revival-style CB & T Williams Building, next to the square at Church and Main, is an example of the more expensive buildings on choice real estate. While many Philippi buildings were constructed by builders and contractors from plan books, others were designed by professional architects, such as J. Charles Fulton, whose Barbour County Court House is one of the state's finest. Professional architectural services, when needed, come from regional cities like Clarksburg.
Among several of the finer-houses of Philippi are the following. Biographical sketches of their owners are included to illustrate the importance of the residences.
Judge Samuel Woods (1822-1897/112 S. Main Street) was born in East Canada and was graduated from Allegheny College in 1846. He then became the principal of Morgantown Academy in West Virginia and studied law in Pittsburg. He located in Philippi in 1848. In 1886 he received his Doctor of Laws degree. A southern sympathizer, he was a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention and in 1881 was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and served until 1889. He was one of the founders of West Virginia Wesleyan College and was president of its Board of Trustees until his death, in 1897. He married Isabelle Neeson and had three sons, all of whom became lawyers, Frank J. Hopkins, and Samuel Van Horn. They also had three daughters. He, along with others, organized the Grafton and. Greenbrier Railroad Company and was the first President of that corporation.
Frank Woods (1850-1900/125 Court Street) was born and raised in Philippi and was graduated from West Virginia University. He practiced law for some years in Grafton and moved to Baltimore where he died in 1900.
John Hopkins Woods (1853-1921/39 S. Main Street) was born in Philippi. He spent two years at West Point Military Academy and graduated from West Virginia University. He was admitted to the bar in 1879. He died on October 25, 1921, in Buckhannon.
Samuel Van Horn Woods was born in Philippi in 1857, (121 S. Main Street). He studied law with his father and brothers in Philippi. In 1892 he was Chairman of the West Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City. In 1910, he was elected a member of the State Senate where he was unanimously elected president of that body. In 1916, he was the Democratic nominee for Congress from the Second Congressional District. He was one of the founders of the Citizens National Bank of Philippi in 1922 and was a member of its Board of Directors until his death. He was president of the bank for seventeen years. He was married to Mollie Strickler and had one daughter, Ruth Neeson Woods.
Alston Gordon Dayton (1857-1920/102 S. Walnut) a native of Philippi, served six terms in Congress. He was graduated from West Virginia University in 1878. He studied law with his father, Spencer Dayton and began his practice in Philippi. He was Prosecuting Attorney of Upshur County for one year and Barbour County for four years. In 1894, Dayton was elected to Congress and was re-elected in 1896,1898,1900, 1902, and 1904.
Arthur Spencer Dayton (1887-1948/102 S. Walnut Street) was born in Philippi, Son of Alston Gordon Dayton. He was graduated from West Virginia University in 1907 with a law degree and received the M.A. degree from Yale University in 1909. An active Republican, he was an alternate to the National Convention in 1912 as well as Chairman of the Second District Congressional Convention in 1916. He is known for his published contributions in both literature and law. He was married to Ruth Woods, daughter of Samuel V. Woods in 1916.
Ruth Woods Dayton (102 S. Walnut Street) was born in Philippi in 1894 and was a writer, making contributions to West Virginia literature. Mrs. Dayton became interested in the Greenbrier when she was at Lewisburg Seminary, now Greenbrier College, and in 1948, built a home in Lewisburg. She established the Daywood Art Gallery in Lewisburg which displays paintings, etchings, and art objects which she and her husband liked to collect. The Daywood Art Gallery has become part of the Huntington Galleries. She was a member of the West Virginia Historical Society.
William T. Ice (1840-1908/31 S. Main Street) was born in Marion County and was a Legislator and circuit Judge. He read law at Fairmont and was admitted to the bar in Philippi where he established his practice. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Barbour County, became a Delegate in 1875, and in 1880, was elected Judge of the Circuit Court of Barbour, Tucker, Randolph, Preston, and Tyler Counties. Following his term, he resumed private practice until his death. He married Columbia Jarvis and they had five daughters and one son, William T. Jr., who became a Legislator in the 1909-1911 term.
David W. Gall (112 S. Main Street) was born in Barbour County in 1851. He married Hennie Reger and they had three children. His ancestors were prominent among the pioneer settlers of the county. In 1873, he began a newspaper, the Philippi Plaindealer. He also studied law and in 1880, he was admitted to the bar and set up practice locally.
W. T. George (31 S. Main Street) was a successful lawyer and businessman in Philippi for many years and was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Barbour County in 1900.
E. H. Crim was a prominent businessman and president of the First National Bank of Philippi. Crim was very influential.
Charles M. Murphy served as Prosecuting Attorney of Barbour County in 1900. He was also Mayor of Philippi in 1903.
Fred O. Blue (119 S. Main Street) was elected State Senator in 1904 where he served until he was appointed State Tax Commissioner by Governor Glasscock.
Charles F. Teter (105 S. Main Street) was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Barbour County in 1882 and a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1908. He was a prominent lawyer and businessman who served as secretary and treasurer of the Philippi Coal Mining Company.
Philippi is the only city in West Virginia to have two of its residents serve concurrent terms as Speaker of the House of Delegates and President of the State Senate. In 1911, W. T. George was Speaker of the House, while Sam Woods served as President of the Senate.
Period of Significance
The period of significance begins with construction of the Philippi Covered Bridge (1852), the town's most significant structure, and ends in 1940. Little new construction occurred in Philippi during the Depression, although several International and Art Deco-style buildings appeared at the end of the decade of the 1930's.