West Virginia is a state of natural wonders, with attractions such as Seneca Rocks, the New River Gorge and Spruce Knob. Unlike its bordering states, there’s no sprawling, bustling metropolises like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus or Lexington where folks get stuck in traffic rather than behind a tractor.
The Mountain State still offers much for urban lovers, especially in Huntington, located in the state’s far-west, just across the Ohio River from Kentucky and Ohio.
Known as the Jewel City, Huntington is the state’s second largest city, just behind the capital Charleston.
And like any city, Huntington offers a hoard of buildings for architecture lovers. So if you’re in town to watch some Marshall Football, or visit one of its many summertime festival, take a tour around town and check out these 11 must-see buildings.
1. Old Main
Old Main, located at the 16th Street entrance to Marshall University, actually predates the city of Huntington. A collection of five buildings that today houses many of Marshall’s administrative offices, Old Main was constructed in the 1839 as Marshall Academy, about 30 years before Huntington was incorporated.
The 1839 structure was demolished in 1897, two years after Old Main got its majestic towers. Nameless for a century, the building was named Old Main in a Marshall College catalog in 1937.
2. The Grey Hound Bus Station
On the corner of 4th Avenue and 13th Street in Huntington stands a relic of a bygone era. Back in the early 1950s, Grey Hound built rounded, Art-Deco style buildings in towns and cities around the country; many have since vanished.
But the station Grey Hound built in 1953 still stands in Huntington. In 1994, the Tri-State Transit Authority purchased the building and rented it to Greyhound because the former was experiencing thinner bus schedules.
3. The Cabell County Court House
The Cabell County Court House is one the only Beaux Art Classical in the Ohio River Valley Region of West Virginia. The central portion of the courthouse, with its golden dome reminiscent of the state capitol building, was constructed between 1899 and 1901.
Taking up the entire city block between Eight and Seventh Streets and Fourth and Fifth Avenues, the National Historical Register described the hall of justice as an “example of the growth and evolution of the city of Huntington.”
4. Heritage Station
Back in 1870, Collis P. Huntington needed a western terminus for his Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad line. So he bought up a bunch of land west of the Guyandotte River, hired an archeit and built the present city from scratch.
Heritage Station, located at Second Avenue and 10th Street, is an homage to Huntington’s ambition. A former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot, the building now houses a visitor center, an engine, a Pullman sleeping car and shops.
Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and Dwight Eisenhower also gave addresses from the depot.
5. B’Nai Sholom Congregation Synagogue
Huntington’s Jewish history can almost be traced to the city’s founding, when the first people of Jewish faith moved there in 1872. The B’nai Sholom Congregation Synagogue erected the worship place in 1924, following years of renting rooms for worship in other buildings in town.
The congregation filling the Synagogue was formed in 1975, with the merger of an Orthodox and a Reformed congregation. Located at Ninth Street and 10th Avenue, the house of worship also has a memorial dedicated to the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
6. The West Virginia Building
At 15 stories tall, the West Virginia Building is the tallest building in Huntington, towering over the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street. Built in 1925, it was christened the Union Bank and Trust Building.
When the stock market fell in 1929 and the bank went out of business, the building was renamed because at the time it was the tallest building in the state.
7. St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church
Standing at the corner of Seventh Street and Eleventh Avenue, nestled away in Huntington’s residential south side, Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Church has enjoyed over half a century of worship.
The congregation began in 1948 and the church was built within four years, thanks to contributions from other Greek Orthodox Churches across the river in Ashland, Kentucky, Ironton, Ohio and in Parkersburg, Charleston, Dorothy, Whitesville, Beckley and Logan.
8. The Keith-Albee Theater
Like the Greyhound Bus Station four blocks away on Fourth Avenue, the Keith-Albee is another relic from the past. Constructed in 1928 and named after two famous vaudeville producers, the Keith-Albee Theater is still in operation today, featuring film festivals and live plays.
The Keith-Albee is like no other theater, literally. Thomas E. Lamb, who fashioned hundreds of theaters in his day, designed it as one of only handful “atmospheric” style theaters. Today, it is the only one still in operation.
The green and white sign hanging from the building is truly a downtown Huntington icon.
9. Stone and Thomas Building
The Stone and Thomas Building, now the home of Marshall University’s School of Art and Design, stood vacant for more than a decade across from popular Pullman Square on Third Avenue.
Originally constructed as a three-story dry goods store in 1902, it became a retail store called Anderson-Newcomb in 1907. The store added three more stories to the building in 1920. Stone and Thomas, a Wheeling-based retail chain, bought the building in 1970. The building stood vacant since 1996 when Stone and Thomas shuttered its doors.
Marshall University bought the building in 2010 and opened its doors in 2014, following a three-year $14 million renovation.
10. James E. Morrow Library
While somewhat unassuming from Third Avenue, the James E. Morrow Library on Marshall University’s campus is a 100,000 square foot warehouse of knowledge. Containing the “stacks”—old documents and books—since 1930 the library has been the University’s primary location for knowledge.
The front of the library, with its steps and pillars are simple, yet elegant. However, if one wants to visit the library, they must come in through the backdoor.
11. Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church
Like the B’Nai Sholom Synagogue, the Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street has a history that is intertwined with Huntington’s founding, beginning in 1870.
A 1935 fire all but destroyed the church, leaving only a shell of imposing brick work. Luckily, the B’Nai Sholom Congregation offered their synagogue as a temporary place of worship while the church spent two years rebuilding.
A fire in 2015 damaged the sanctuary inside the church.