UPDATED: 3-25-2021


Parkersburg has been the seat of Wood County (first Virginia, later West Virginia) since the early 1800s. The cabin of Colonel Hugh Phelps, located on First Street near the Little Kanawha River, served as the first courthouse until 1815. By then, Mrs. William Robinson, who held title to most of what was then Parkersburg, had given the town a public square consisting of one-and-a-third acres on what is now Third Street. The first courthouse built in this Court Square, in 1815, was a two-story wooden building with a high, sloped roof and a crude tower. It was replaced in 1860 by a more formidable, classically designed two-story building whose pointed tower stood five stories high (see top photo). The tower was replaced with a dome after being destroyed by lightning in the 1870s. The current Wood County Courthouse, designed as a smaller version of the Romanesque Revival Allegheny County courthouse in Pittsburgh, was built in 1899.

The third courthouse orginally had a high tower (above) that could
be seen for miles, but after being destroyed by lightning in
the 1870s, the tower was replaced by a dome (below).

Photo courtesy of Dan Kemper.

Ohio Governor and U.S. Presidential candidate William McKinley delivers a speech in front of the courthouse on
October 23, 1894. After his assassination in 1901, Parkersburg named a new elementary school for him.
Photo courtesy of Dan Kemper.

The 1884 flood. The domed building in the upper left is Parkersburg's third county courthouse.

Looking south down Market Street from atop the Sixth Street railroad tressle during the 1884 flood.
The dome above the rooftops in the top right of the photo was the Wood County Courthouse.
(Photo courtesy of Artcraft Studio, 519-521 Market Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101; (304) 485-5771.)

The current Wood County Courthouse around 1905.

The Wood County Courthouse around 1905.

Ladies canoe past the courthouse during the 1907 flood.

Looking east toward Court Square from Juliana during the March 1913 flood.

Looking northeast toward the courthouse from Second
Street and Ann, during urban renewal, June 15, 1970.

In the 1980s local artist Cher Shaffer painted this idealized vision
of the Wood County Courthouse in a pastoral Parkersburg.

Local people gather on the west side of the courthouse in Court Square,
perhaps in 1917 at the beginning of World War I.

Townspeople gather on the Market Street side of the courthouse,
probably in 1917 shortly after America entered World War I.

Looking east toward the courthouse from near Second and Ann
during "urban renewal" in 1970.


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