Judiciously the authorities of the State of West Virginia decided to combine in the building prepared for their accommodation the double feature of a mansion for the reception of friends and strangers and of an exhibition hall.
In the large buildings of the park, this State could not but make a pale figure among the exhibitors of the American department. Its productions, which are almost entirely natural, would have little chance of being examined alongside the refined manufactures, objects of art, and ingenious machines which the former Commonwealth countries might display.
A special building of his, in which the varieties of the bounty which nature has bestowed upon the State might be displayed, would attract the most attention, and the effect would be more permanent on the memory of those who might examine the products. For this reason, West Virginia is represented by two buildings. One is the state headquarters, about 40x40 feet, two stories high, and built on a floor plan that places it diagonally in position with the showroom, which is behind it. The main building, in relation to the one it adjoins, might be considered as having the shape of the letter ^, however, in the manner in which it is placed. This house is two stories high. It has been built, with great care, of wood of this state, carefully panelled and with the frame so arranged as to show the varieties of colour and grain. From the point where the corners of the front building meet rises a small cupola, surmounted by a spire.
The interior is beautifully appointed and arranged, and near the door is an inscription: "West Virginia welcomes all; the latch is always out." The main building is 30x59 feet, and constructed entirely of West Virginia wood.
The exhibit hall is a simple parallelogram 40x60 feet, which is filled with specimens of stone, ores, coal, wood, sand, petroleum, and mineral waters which the territory of the state supplies. The vegetable products are exemplified by tobacco in leaf and processed into cigars and snuff. Cereals are numerous and the soil on which they grow accompanies the specimens, so as to give the best idea of its rich and fertile character.
There are over 80 varieties of wood displayed on a pedestal in the centre of the room; a rough and a polished specimen are placed side by side.
Granite and marble and building stone show great variety and beauty of colour. Coal in diversity is displayed not only in the building, but in pillars outside on the grounds.
The public school system is also illustrated by specimens of the books and apparatus used, with maps and other examples.
The petroleum product of this Commonwealth is important, and care has been taken to show the variety of light and heavy oils. The substances used in forming mineral paints are abundant, and there are specimens of fine sand for glass-making and of valuable marl in culture and equal to that of New Jersey. The showcase should convince all who examine it of the immense mineral wealth of the State and the value of its vegetable productions.
It is enough to show that this Commonwealth is one of the richest in the Union.
The situation of these structures is adjacent to and immediately east of the Spanish building, northwest of the Catholic fountain, with Arkansas as an immediate neighbour.
©Centennial portfolio: a souvenir of the international exhibition at Philadelphia - 1876