Ripley Historic District
The Ripley Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. 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 District consists of the central business district of Ripley and the immediate surrounding residential sections of Ripley, county seat of Jackson County, West Virginia. It contains all of the historic concentration of the downtown commercial buildings and many of the early merchant residences and adjacent residential portions in Ripley developed at the same time. The town is located almost in the center of the county and to the west is the Ohio River. Ripley is located on US Route 33 with the downtown encompassed by Mill Creek to the south and Sycamore Creek to the north. The district is composed of portions of Charleston Drive, Church Street, Court Street, Highlawn Drive, Main Street/US Route 33, Maple Street, North Street, Seventh Street and South Street. This corresponds to the historic commercial and residential portions of Ripley.
The nominated area contains approximately 52 acres. There are one hundred and eighty-five (185) resources in the district: one hundred and ten (110) are considered contributing buildings; seventy-three (73) are considered non-contributing buildings; one (1) contributing structure, the Mill Creek Dam; and one (1) contributing site, the Early Settlers Cemetery. The core of the downtown district includes mostly late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings. These are primarily two and three-story, masonry buildings with storefronts on the first floor and housing in the upper stories. The buildings opposite the courthouse on Court Street and on Main Street abut one another and fill the entire lot. There are small parking areas behind these buildings. The remaining buildings are mostly free standing but do fill the entire lot. The majority of the buildings date from ca. 1930 and up to post 1930. The extant buildings represent the second construction phase of Ripley's commercial district.
The residential buildings within the district are also mostly late 19th and early 20th century, single family homes. The east side of Ripley consists of many of the homes of early merchants and businessmen of the town. This includes portions of Main Street and North Street. The northern portion of Church Street also has some early homes but the majority date to the second phase of construction within the town, post ca. 1930.
The Clerc-Carson House, ca. 1880 is located at the eastern-most end of North Street. It is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the residences have side and rear yards but few have large front yards. The majority of the residences are wood frame but there are also masonry residences. The residences illustrate many of the styles of the late 19th and early 20th century and these include: Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, and Bungalow and Four Square.
One of the more common residential types within the district is a two-story, front facing "L" configuration with gingerbread detailing, or verge board, on the building. The front projecting gable bay is frequently two-story with the second story as an open porch with brackets, finials, scrollwork, etc. This type of residence often has a small front porch in the corner of the ell with equal amounts of gingerbread as the gable bay. They are mostly made of wood and have metal roofs and stone foundations. The primary contractor for these types of residences was Charles H. Progler, a Swiss immigrant who settled in Ripley ca. 1848. His most common style is Folk Victorian but several of his houses are in the Queen Anne style. Many of these homes retain their original character defining elements and stand firmly within the period of significance.
There is a small city park along Mill Creek, at the southern end of Court Street, which contains sites including the old water pumping station and plant and Mill Creek Dam, which straddles Mill Creek.
The one contributing site within the Ripley Historic District is the Early Settlers Cemetery. It is located at the northern end of Church Street between Church and Seventh Streets. It consists of approximately one and one-half (1.5) acres and contains at least 312 graves and markers. Majority of the graves are early settlers of the town and include members of the Starcher family, Proglers, Greers, Walkers and Armstrongs, It is currently surrounded by a chain-link fence with a locked gate but the lay-out and markers are original. The original steps with access from Church Street also remain intact. The cemetery was first established by the Starcher family as a family cemetery but later it combined with the Walker family cemetery to form a community cemetery.
The commercial styles represented in the district include Colonial Revival, Art Moderne, Neo-Classical Revival, Italianate and Modern. These relate to the period of construction of the buildings. The predominate "style" in the district is the commercial or vernacular style buildings. They are very simple buildings with little ornamentation. The earlier residences within the district include Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Folk Victorian styles. Later residential styles include Bungalow, Four Square and even later, Ranch styles.
The Clerc-Carson House (ca. 1880) is a wonderful example of a residential, masonry, Italianate style house. It is a two-story, "T" shaped house with a decorative, multi-colored slate roof. There are two interior, corbelled brick chimneys and a wide frieze with paired brackets. It has a painted red brick facade and the windows are one-over-one double-hung sash and have segmented arched with keystones. It has front, side and rear porches and a brick foundation. It maintains the original two outbuildings: one is known as the "Sample Room" for Mr. Carson, the merchant; and the other is a wash house on the rear. The Clerc-Carson House along with its two outbuildings is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ripley Historic District is significant as a business center throughout Jackson County's history. The district is also a significant collection of several architectural styles popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is also locally significant for its association with the work of prominent West Virginia architect, Levi J. Dean for his design of the Jackson County Courthouse and for the work of Charles H. Progler, a local builder who contracted on several commercial and residential buildings within the district. The original community was planned around the courthouse square area and the commercial district. Ripley's core area developed outward from there to accommodate new prosperity from events such as population increases, a lumber boom, and the construction of US Routes 21 and 33 through town.
The period of significance spans from ca. 1880, the construction date of the Clerc-Carson House to 1954, the fifty-year cut-off date as developed by the National Park Service. The district has been the county seat of Jackson County since its inception in 1832 and retains many of the characteristics of its origins. Architecturally, Ripley displays a variety of styles of architecture. The district also illustrates architectural styles developed throughout its history.
Early Ripley and Jackson County History
Jackson County was formed in 1831 from parts of Wood, Mason and Kanawha Counties. It was named for Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States. As with many of West Virginia's counties, Jackson County was formed for the convenience of its citizens. The population often lived great distances from their respective courthouses and due to high water on the many rivers and creeks, they were unable to reach the courthouses to conduct their business. The people who lived along the Ohio River lobbied for a county seat to be located there and those who lived away from the waterways wanted the courthouse to be located in their area. A commission of five members was selected to make the decision including John McWhorter of Lewis County, John Miller of Kanawha County, William Spurlock of Cabell County, Cyrus Cary of Greenbrier County, and John McCoy of Tyler County.
Jacob Starcher, an early settler in the area, bought from William John title to 400 acres of land in Jackson County. Starcher, as a response to the courthouse location dilemma, gave the county eight acres of ground for the county seat. It was specified that it would be laid out so as to form three sides of the public square with the courthouse building in the center. The court accepted the gift. Two acres was for the purpose of erecting a courthouse and a jail and six additional acres on the front and sides of the square for the "use and benefit of Jackson County." The deed from Jacob and Ann Starcher was dated March 28, 1832. This central "courthouse square" remains intact to the present.
In January of 1832, a contract was let to James Smith for the construction of the first courthouse and a jail building. The court of Jackson County stated that the buildings were to be of brick with the jail to be 34'-0" X 17'-0" and the courthouse to be 36 feet square. It was to cost $3,700.00. The work was completed and the first term in the new building was held on October 28, 1833.
The first courthouse was a one-story building and the court outgrew the building in twenty-five years. In September of 1858, the court moved into a new two-story building with the jail on the first floor and the court room on the second. This second courthouse was constructed by Nicholas Bonnett for $7,000.00 and the first floor was of cut sandstone with the second floor of brick made locally. This second courthouse served the county until 1918 when the current courthouse was begun.
Starcher petitioned the State of Virginia on December 5, 1832 and his request was granted on December 19, 1832 for the establishment of a town, Ripley. Previous histories state that Ripley was named for Harry Ripley, a circuit riding Methodist minister who drowned crossing Mill Creek around 1830, about 3 miles south of Ripley. He apparently had a marriage license in his pocket when he drowned and there is a record of such a license issued to him but that is all that is known of Harry Ripley.
Ephraim Evans, one of the first justices of the first county court, and Robert Lowther, a leading lawyer, the first postmaster and a good surveyor, were appointed by the court to lay out and plat the town of Ripley. The nominated district basically encompasses most of the original plat of land that was laid out for the county seat in 1832 in addition to the immediate residential areas surrounding the downtown. Evans and Lowther laid out the town with the courthouse at its center. The courthouse square remains the center of activity within the district. The four streets around the courthouse were named for the four compass points: North, East, South and West Streets. North Street is the only street today to retain its original name. South Street is now Main Street; West Street is now Maple Street; and East Street is now Court Street, directly in front of the courthouse.
Jacob Starcher, Joseph Mayers, Ira Lindsey, Robert Lowther and Peter Click were appointed as town trustees. They were empowered to make by-laws and ordinances for regulating the police, regulating the building of houses, improving public streets and alleys and other necessary policies for the good of the town. This trustee system of government lasted until 1852 when it was replaced by a town council and a mayor to be elected by voters. The first mayor was Clemont T. Thaw.
Those owning lots at the time of Ripley's establishment include: James Smith, a merchant; William Carney, hotel operator; Dr. Joseph Mairs, a physician; Daniel G. Morrill, a lawyer and hotel operator; Dr. John Armstrong, the town's first school teacher and a physician; Nehemiah Smith, a merchant and early legislator; Benjamin Long; Solomon Harpold; George McGary; Tapley Beckwith; Samuel Long; Robert Butler; David Woodruff; and James Kay.
Also in January of 1832, a post office was established in Ripley, although it was first known as Jackson Court House, and the first post master was the previously mentioned, Robert Lowther. The first post office operated from a residence on North Street. In 1893 the name was changed to Jackson and finally, in 1897, it was changed to Ripley.
Starting in the 1840s, English, French, Swiss and German immigrants began to settle in Ripley and more prosperous times arrived with them and their skills. One immigrant included Isiah Vail who established a woodworking shop in 1844. He made furniture and coffins, as was typical of the time period. Eventually, the businesses separated and they remain in business to this day with the furniture store still being owned and operated by the Vail family.
Another immigrant was Charles H. Progler who came from Switzerland in 1848 via New York City. He operated a hotel early on but later became a designer and builder of many of the homes, churches and businesses in Ripley. Progler also constructed a planning mill in 1878 for the purpose of planning the lumber he used in his construction work. He also operated a woolen mill with Ferdinand R. and F.W.B. Hassler, fellow immigrants from Switzerland. Ferdinand Hassler later served as sheriff, a member of the state legislator and post master. The woolen mill was constructed in 1866 at a cost of $10,000.00 and it was operated by the Hasslers and Progler until 1868 when J. B. Armstrong leased F. R. Hassler's share. The mill was finally destroyed by fire in 1889. Other European immigrants included the Landfried and Shatto families from Germany; the Campbell, Graham, McGuire and Ferguson families from Ireland; the Carez and Fleau families from France; the Progler, Hassler and Hinzman families from Switzerland; and the Mate and Rawling families from England. All of these immigrants arrived during the 1840's and helped to settle and develop the town of Ripley and Jackson County.
Progler deserves further mention as he was responsible for many of the historic buildings that still stand today. Progler was born in Switzerland, September 30, 1829. He and his mother immigrated to New York in 1837; his father had died in Switzerland in 1835. They then proceeded to Jackson County in 1848. Progler married in 1860 and he and his wife had six children. In addition to the woolen mill and planning mill he operated a factory for the manufacture of buggies, wagons, spokes and hubs. Progler also served in the Civil War as a Major in the 141st West Virginia Militia, Union. Progler and his wife, Elizabeth, and at least four of their children are buried in the Early Settlers Cemetery. His most common style is Folk Victorian but several of his houses are in the Queen Anne style.
Many of these homes retain their original character defining elements and stand firmly within the period of significance. Commercial structures within the downtown that are attributed to Progler include the Hockenberry Store, the Seconds Count Consignment Shop, and the Jeweler's Touch. All three of these buildings were built ca. 1890.
Along with these new immigrants, came the need for all the trappings of "civilization"; schools, churches, newspapers and other businesses. The first church in Ripley was held in the courthouse until the first church building was built in 1858. This was the Methodist Church, South, and the church was built by Charles H. Progler and Jonathan Conker. The Methodist Episcopal Church continued to have church in the courthouse until they built their own church on Bridge Street in 1889. It was also built by Charles H. Progler. The Ripley Baptist Church was organized by Reverend Jonathan Smith in 1866. They built their church, in conjunction with the Masons, in 1874 with the lower story serving the Baptist Church and the upper story serving the Masons. In 1907, the Baptist Congregation built their own church. The Protestant Episcopal Church was built in 1874 by R.N. Mather. Charles H. Progler built the United Brethren Church in 1888; it had been organized by Reverend J.W. Martin shortly before the construction of the church.
Surprisingly, there was no bank in Ripley until 1891. Barter was the main form of business transaction. The Bank of Ripley was established by Judge Warren Miller. Miller served in Congress and was a Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Appeals of West Virginia. He also served in the State Senate and the House of Delegates. He operated a large farm in Jackson County. Prior to the establishment of the Bank of Ripley, banking business had to be done in Parkersburg or Charleston. A group of businessman applied to the state for a charter and the bank opened on August 10, 1891. Warren Miller served as the first president; D.K. Hood was the vice-president; and H.F. Pfost, the first cashier. The Valley Bank of Ripley was chartered in 1893 and J.L. Starcher served as President. The Valley Bank was enveloped by the First National Bank of Ripley on August 3, 1915. The original Valley Bank building also served as the First National Bank headquarters. The Citizen's State Bank opened in 1909 and C.W. Starcher was the president. Many of these banks continue to serve Ripley in new buildings. Several of the downtown buildings began as banks. As can be seen by the proliferation of businesses and industries, Ripley was growing. It started out with 120 people in 1832 and by 1870, it had a population of 226 within the town limits. The county population was growing too: 1850 - 6,544; 1860 - 8,306; 1870 - 10,300. By 1900, Ripley's population had grown to 579 and Jackson County to 22,987. The peak appears to be in 1910 when Ripley's population was 591 and Jackson County, 20,956. This was also the peak of the lumber boom in the area and as the county seat and center of business, Ripley prospered and grew to accommodate the new prosperity.
The nearby county of Roane illustrated similar growth patterns as Jackson County. Roane County had a population of 19,852 in 1900; 21,543 in 1910; and 20,129 in 1920. It too seems to have peaked in population in 1910. The Ripley District of Jackson County illustrates the same pattern and when compared to the Ravenswood District it can be seen how the county seat affected its growth: Ravenswood District in 1900, the population was 5,487; for the same period for the Ripley District, it was 6,641. Ravenswood District in 1910 the population was 4,843; Ripley 5,992. In 1920 the Ravenswood District had a population of 4,463; Ripley District for the same time period was 5,092. As the county seat, a town could expect to grow and prosper in all areas of business and government.
Newspapers followed the same trend as other businesses in Ripley. Jackson County had its first newspaper in 1853 when Daniel Frost began publishing the Virginia Chronicle at Ravenswood. The first newspaper to be published in Ripley was The Jackson Democrat which began in 1864. It was owned by a joint stock company composed of J. L. Armstrong, John H. Riley, John M. Greer and W. F. Greer. It was edited and published by W. C. Whaley and Lee C. Sayles. Sayles shortly withdrew and his place was taken by Monroe Whaley, W. C.'s brother. They operated it for a year and then it sat idle for a year until 1877 when J. J. S. Hassler and George B. Crow reopened it under the name of The Jackson Herald. To fit within the changing architectural styles of the time period and be known as a "progressive" business, the Herald constructed a new building in the downtown in 1930. The design was Neo-Classical Revival and represented the Revival styles of the time. The Jackson Herald continues to operate to the present time but it is located in the old Kessel Clinic Building. The Kessel Clinic was built in 1950 in the Colonial Revival style and also represents the architectural styles and construction techniques and materials of its time.
Early transportation in the area consisted of narrow horse paths which grew to wagon roads. These roads allowed Ripley access to the Ohio River and all the points beyond. William Parsons, a very early settler, with others was employed by Mason County (Jackson was previously part of Mason County) to lay out, mark and build a road from Point Pleasant through Ripley and towards Clarksburg. As settlers used these road and mail routes were established, the roads became more stable. Landowners along the route were assigned to maintain it. The National Road which went from Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling was completed in 1818 by the federal government. In 1831, when Jackson County was formed, the Northwestern Turnpike was begun from Winchester, Virginia, through Clarksburg to Parkersburg. It was completed in 1838. The Parkersburg and Staunton, Virginia Turnpike was completed to the Ohio River in 1847. The Gilmer-Ripley-Ohio Turnpike went from Gilmer County to the Ohio River and paralleled the Little Kanawha River route to the Ohio River. It was completed about 1853 from Weston to Ripley. All of these roads were toll roads. The tolls collected were used for the maintenance of the roads.
The first railroad to arrive in Ripley was the Ripley and Mill Creek Valley Railroad in 1888. It was built with local capital and eventually became part of the B & O. William Thomas Greer was primarily responsible for the completion of the railroad. He was one of the largest stockholders, the first president and the general manager of the company. He and D. K. Hood, Treasurer, oversaw every foot of the route until its completion. Greer served as Sheriff of Jackson County in 1859 at the age of 24. He served as Commissioner of the Courts for six years beginning in 1865. Starting in 1888, he served for four years as Commissioner of the US Courts. Many of the Hood and Greer family members are buried in the Early Settlers Cemetery although no known marker exists for W. T. Greer.
The first paved street was from Bridge to Church Streets. Jim Chase was the contractor for this project and the street was not repaved until after 1973. The water works and sewage plant were built prior to 1910; wells and outhouses were used before that. Gas for domestic use was implemented about the same time, ca. 1910. Electricity was provided by the Hood Mill in West Ripley by "Cap" Hood.
Many of the commercial buildings within the downtown area also date to the period after ca. 1920 when Federal Route 21 was built through Ripley. This opened up a major federal route through the town. Route 21 was widened in 1933-1934. Paving of roads through Ripley occurred in 1919 and 1920 and the paving contract was given to the Sissler-Morris Company. US Route 33 was constructed through Ripley from 1920 through 1922 and in 1945 the route was paved from the courthouse westward towards the town of Evans. The northern end of Church Street was built up with single family residences during this road building process, particularly from the early 1920s through the 1940s. All of these transportation enhancements were beneficial to the growth of Ripley as more people traveled into and through the town and the building stock and population figures support this.
From 1900 to 1910 the lumber boom was primarily responsible for the population peak in Ripley and the surrounding county. Ripley's population decreased slightly from 1910 to 1920; from 591 in 1910 to 580 in 1920 but then rebounded to 669 in 1930. In 1940, it was 759 and 1959, 1,813. Jackson County's population followed the same trend: 1920 - 18,658; 1930 - 16,124; 1940 - 16,598; and 1950 - 15,299.
As with many communities throughout the state and country, Ripley suffered several fires throughout its history. Fire destroyed the majority of the town's first buildings facing the public square and courthouse. Following the fire, many two-story buildings were built by Charles H. Progler, with shops on the first floor and the shopkeeper's residence on the second floor. The current building stock on East Main Street, the south side, date to the time period immediately following a large fire ca. 1930. Once many of the wood frame buildings were destroyed the new buildings were reconstructed using masonry, primarily brick. These include the Kelley Hotel, the Barber Shop, the Alpine Theatre and others along East Main Street.
The corporate limits of Ripley have been enlarged several times. In 1853, 70 acres were added to the town. In March of 1867, a town council was created with a mayor, a recorder and five councilmen to oversee the town's business. The present town limits encompass most of Jacob Starcher's land in the original plat.
There are several buildings associated with prominent local and state-wide businessmen within the district. One of the more well known is Okey J. Morrison. Morrison was born January 10, 1869 in Jackson County. When quite young, he had dropped out of school and did not seem too interested in working on his parent's farm, he got together enough capitol to open a small country store at his hometown of Kenna, West Virginia. He married a neighbor girl in 1891 and the business continued to expand. Shortly thereafter he opened a store in Ripley and expanded his stock to include bargains he had found, which the local stores did not do. Consequently, his business continued to grow and he eventually established stores in Spencer, Logan, West Union, Clarksburg, Huntington, Morgantown, Fairmont, and the state capitol, Charleston. He and his family which included his wife, Cora, and five children, moved to Charleston and built a large lovely home on Quarrier Street. Morrison's original store building within the downtown was destroyed by a fire but he rebuilt and this building is extant. It includes a large rear addition which was built about five years after the primary building to serve as his warehouse and loading dock.
The Armstrong House was built ca. 1915 in the Four Square style for an employee of the Bank of Ripley, W. S. Armstrong. The James Armstrong House is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and is located just outside the boundaries of the nominated district on the west end of North Street. W. S. Armstrong was involved in many of the business ventures in Ripley.
The Judge Lewis Miller House is located on the eastern end of North Street. Right next to it is the Judge Warren Miller House. Judge Warren Miller has been the only Jackson Countian to serve in Congress and he was also a Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court. His son, Lewis Miller was also a Circuit Judge. Warren Miller also served in the State Senate and House of Delegates. Warren Miller also helped to establish the Bank of Ripley with other prominent local businessmen.
The Pfost House, built in 1901 was owned and built by H. F. Pfost. Pfost, along with Judge Warren Miller and Enoch Staats, organized the Bank of Ripley. He started out working in a drugstore in Ripley which he eventually purchased. He also was one of the organizers and directors of the O. J. Morrison group stores. At one time, Pfost was one of the largest land owners in Jackson County. He owned a lumber business that was used when his beautiful home on North Street was constructed. It is in as-built condition and retains its Colonial Revival-style elements and as such illustrates the prosperity of Pfost in Ripley around the turn of the century.
There are several buildings associated with the Kessel family, local physicians. These include the Kessel House, ca. 1900. This house operated as the clinic/hospital for the family business while the Kessel Clinic next door, 1950, was being built. Another early Kessel home includes a site, ca. 1900. A later family home was built in 1954. Charles Royal Kessel and his two brothers, Ray and Russell, all became doctors as did many of their sons and grandsons. Charles Royal Kessel was known as Roy and he began the first hospital in Ripley on the site where the present post office stands. It was known as the "Kessel Emergency Hospital." The hospital was then moved to the house on the north end of Church Street, and stayed there until the clinic was built next door in 1950. All of the wood for the Clinic and the family home was timbered off of Charles Enoch "C. E." Kessel's property in Parchment Valley.
As can be seen by the above, many of the residences and businesses within the district represent the prominent merchants and politicians of the historic time period and many of these people were responsible for the growth and development of the town and the county.
The Ripley Historic District is a significant collection of architectural styles popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including the following:
The Colonial Revival style is illustrated in several sites. The US Post Office is a great example of the style within the downtown section of the district. It is a one-story, side gable building with engaged, end chimneys and several one-story, flat roof wings on the rear. It has a partial return cornice with dentiling. It has a red brick facade and 12/12 windows. The central, double entrance doors have an undivided transom and a decorative wood surround with fluted pilasters with caps and plinth blocks with a dentiled hood above with metopes. The building was built in 1940 and is in excellent condition. A wonderful residential example of the style is the Phillips/Pfost House built in 1901. Pfost owned a timber mill in town and this house illustrates his prosperity. It is a large, two-story, rear facing "L", wood framed house. It has intact clapboard siding with frieze boards and fluted corner boards. There are brackets in the frieze and verge board with dropped finials in the gable ends. It has a variety of novelty windows. The front porch extends over the driveway on the right to form a porte cochere and the porch is supported by Doric columns. It is also in excellent condition and is one of the earlier examples of the style within the district.
The Art Moderne and Modern styles can be seen in some sites. A good example of the Modern style is the Alpine Theater, ca. 1936. It is in as-built condition and is in the process of being rehabilitated. It is a two-story, flat roof, commercial building with a stepped parapet wall in the front. It has a red brick facade and its marquee along with the lights is extant. There is a central ticket booth flanked by the original paired doors. The original "coming attraction" poster frames are intact and are situated on the pilasters flanking the double doors. This building is in good condition and vividly illustrates what downtown meant to many people. The theatre was built during the Great Depression and offered the community an escape from the harsh reality of daily life. It is currently being rehabilitated and many elderly people have stopped by during the process to reminisce and even offer mementoes. Other than the courthouse, the theatre is probably the one building that people most associate with the downtown.
There is one example of the decorative Italianate Commercial style within the district. It is a two-story, flat roof, commercial building constructed ca. 1890. It has a pressed metal cornice, a painted brick facade and one-over-one, double-hung sash windows on the second floor with simple hoods and stone sills. There is a "Messker Bros." metal secondary cornice and storefront complete with pilasters on the first floor. The building is divided into two storefronts; the one on the right appears to be in the most original condition including the interior. The building is 7 bays wide and is in good condition.
A good example of the simple Commercial style in this district is Powers Florist, built ca. 1930. It is a two-story, flat roof, commercial building. It has a corbelled brick cornice, blonde brick facade and one-over-one, double-hung sash windows on the second floor. The original storefront consists of a central deeply recessed entrance door flanked by stepped display windows with brick kickpanels. The storefront framing is bronze. The full length transom retains its original prism glass and it is in excellent condition. It is a very simple building but its style fits its function.
The most common style, excepting the Commercial, within the downtown district is Neo-Classical Revival. The Jackson County Courthouse illustrates the style through its full-height entry porch with a gable pediment, all supported by Ionic columns. The courthouse has a dentiled cornice that overhangs slightly. The smooth limestone facade further highlights its classical roots. It is in excellent condition and remains the pivotal building within the historic district. The courthouse was designed by the prominent West Virginia architect, Levi J. Dean.
Dean was born in Braxton County in 1878. He studied architecture by correspondence course and commenced his practice in Charleston. He relocated to Huntington and by 1910 was in business for himself. Dean was responsible for many public buildings throughout West Virginia including the Richwood Municipal Building, the Gassaway Municipal Building, and the addition to the Nicholas County Courthouse and its jail. He often worked in the Revival styles of the time period and the Jackson County Courthouse is a wonderful example of the Neo-Classical Revival style as interpreted by Dean.
The old water pumping station and dam on Mill Creek date to ca. 1910. The waterworks facility consists of three sites. The dam was built to create a holding pond for the water which was then pumped uphill to the station and processed. The two buildings and the dam are in good condition and are good examples of city waterworks. The Folk Victorian style is one of the more common residential styles in the district. Many of these residences were built by Progler and include the Beymer House. It is a two-story, front facing "L" house with a two-story front, projecting bay on the left with an open porch on the second floor with cut-out verge board, corner brackets with dropped finials, turned posts and a cut-out balustrade. The first floor of the bay is three-sided and has corner brackets. The house has clapboard siding with corner boards and decorative chisel point shingles. It has a front and a rear porch; the front porch has cut-out verge board and square posts on an enclosed balustrade. The rear, cellar house is intact and all are in good condition. It is a good example of the style and Progler's craftsmanship.
Another common residential style is the Queen Anne style. Many of the earlier residences constructed post 1890 are in this style and constructed of brick. The Hinzrnan House, ca. 1898, may also have been built by Charles Progler in the more formal Queen Anne style. It is a two-story, front facing "L" house with a two-story, three-sided, projecting bay on the right with a pyramidal roof. The house has drop siding with chisel point shingles and verge board in the gable ends. There are one-over-one, double-hung sash and novelty windows with decorative hoods. The central front porch has Doric columns. There is a small, rear porch with verge board, turned posts and a spindled balustrade. It is in excellent condition.
The northern end of Church Street includes several styles of the early 20th century and includes Tudor Revival, Bungalow and Four Square styles. These residences date to the second period of construction within the town, from ca. 1920 to ca. 1940 and even later with some Ranch style houses represented. This was the period of road building and road expansion within Ripley and these residences reflect that time period.
The district represents mostly late 19th and early 20th century commercial and residential buildings. The commercial buildings are primarily two and three-story, masonry buildings with storefronts on the first floor and housing in the upper stories. The buildings opposite the courthouse on Court Street and Main Street abut one another and fill the entire lot. There are small alleys behind these buildings. The remaining buildings are mostly free standing but do fill their lots. The majority of the buildings date from ca. 1930 up to ca. 1955 although there are several buildings from ca. 1890 to 1900. While the extant buildings represent the second construction phase of the commercial district, the downtown retains its configuration of spokes on a wheel with the courthouse at its center. The courthouse remains the center of activity and the large expanses of lawn with large trees remain around the courthouse. The residential buildings within the district are also within the historic time period and are mostly two-story, single family homes, wood frame although there are some masonry examples. Most have small front and side yards with large rear yards. Many of these homes are the original homes of the merchants and businessmen of the downtown and retain their characteristics.
The Ripley Historic District is significant for its association with the growth of Ripley as the county seat, and with several of the architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The period of significance, 1880 to 1954, relates to the Clerc-Carson House, constructed in 1880 (the oldest building documented in the historic district) and up to 1954 when the fifty-year cut-off date as developed by the National Park Service is reached.
A Pictorial History of Jackson County, West Virginia. The Jackson Herald, 1995.
Callahan, James Morton. Semi-centennial History of West Virginia. Semi-centennial Commission of West Virginia, 1913.
Carney, Betty. A Survey of Ripley, Jackson County. West Virginia. 20 1 History, Geography and Government of West Virginia, Morris Harvey College, May 1977, By Directive Study-Instructor, Dr. Lieble.
Collins, Rodney S. Armstrong House National Register Nomination. October 23, 1979. Unpublished manuscript.
Cornstock, Jim. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. Richwood, W.Va: N.p., 1976.
Conley, Phil, Editor In Chief. The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Publishing Company: Charleston, W.Va., 1929.
Early History of Pioneer Days in Jackson County. Compiled by the Bicentennial Committee of Alpha Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Printed by Arrow Business Services, Ripley, W.Va., 1976.
The Emergence of Jackson County and of Ripley, Its Seat of Justice. Jackson County Historical Society, Ripley, W. Va, 1982.
Gioulis, Michael. Levi Johnson Dean. Unpublished manuscript. Sutton, W.Va., n.d.
Harris, John T., Editor. Official Register Division of the West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual. 1921. Charleston, W.Va.: Tribune Printing Company.
Jackson County History and Folklore. Jackson County Historical Society, May 1, 1983. Unpublished manuscript.
Jackson County West Virginia Past and Present 1990. Jackson County Historical Society, Inc. N.p.: Walsworth Publishing, 1990.
The Jackson Herald. Ripley, W.Va., 26 March 2003.
Kerwood, John and Judy Miller, interview by author. Ripley, W.Va., 3 December 2003.
Landon, Thomas Swift. Clerc-Carson House National Register Nomination. August 3, 1992. Unpublished manuscript.
Lively, Charles, Editor. West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual and Official Register Charleston, W.Va.: Jarrett Printing Company.
Morrison, Granville Price. History of a Branch of the Morrison Family Whose Progenitor Emigrated to America. Charleston, W.Va.: Jarrett Printing Company, May 28, 1929.
Myers, J. Howard, Editor. West Virginia Blue Book 1961. Charleston, W.Va.: Jarrett Printing Company.
O'Brien, Winnifred E. Early settlers and their contributions to Jackson County and Its county Seat, Ripley. West Virginia. Available at Jackson County Public Library, 208 N. Church Street, Ripley, W.Va. 25271. 1979. Unpublished manuscript.
Painter, Mary and Jewell Pounds. Interview by author, January 2004.
The Ravenswood News Volume 65 #51. Ravenswood, W.Va., 26 January 1933.
Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Ripley, W.Va. dated September 1933.
Watkins, A. Hale, ed. West Virginia Blue Book 1941. Charleston, W.Va.: Jarrett Printing Company, n.d.
West Virginia Historic Property Inventory Forms and maps for the Town of Ripley, Jackson County, W.Va. Available at the State Historic Preservation Office, Charleston, W.Va.