The Life and Career of Fannie Cobb Carter (1872 – 1973)

“Life is like a piano. It has two kinds of keys, black and white. If you don’t play both of them, you will never get harmony” – Fannie Cobb Carter

Fannie Cobb Carter was one of the most influential members of the “Block” community. A mentee of Booker T. Washington, Ms. Carter was a pioneer and an admired voice in West Virginia and beyond. She began her influential teaching career around 1895 (where she was a great influence on Ruth Norman, who would teach West Virginia’s first licensed African American architect, John Norman, Sr.) and was possibly the first black news reporter in West Virginia.

Download the Full Slideshow Presentation to Learn More About One of West Virginia’s True Pioneers

Sit-In Movement at Charleston Lunch Counters


On August 11, 1958, the Congress of Racial Equality—or CORE—launched a sit-in movement at several Charleston lunch counters. Prior to this time, African-Americans in Charleston could order takeout food at many white-owned diners but were not allowed to sit down and eat.

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Harden and Harden Funeral Home Collection & Norman Home Collection

Harden and Harden Funeral Home Collection

Norman Family Collection

Jefferson County Black history Preservation Society


The Underground Railroad

On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Chris Saunders discussed “The Underground Railroad” in the Archives and History Library of the Culture Center in Charleston.

The State of Ohio had more area bordering slave states than any other state in the Union. Lawrence County, the southernmost county in Ohio, bordered the slave states of Virginia and Kentucky. Countless enslaved African Americans first tasted freedom after crossing the Ohio River into Burlington and Ironton, Ohio. Chris Saunders identified and gave biographical sketches of the individuals of various ethnicities and religious beliefs who worked together in an informal network of safe houses and escape routes to help enslaved African Americans to freedom in the northern states and Canada.

View Video From this Event on YouTube

Craik Patton Museum House in Charleston



Submitted by J. Waters

A wonderful site that contains many historical photos of Charleston, Kanawha County and West Virginia in general.

It’s amazing to see the before and after of the city. These photo albums will bring back some memories.

Historic Postcards

Submitted by P. Aultz







West Virginia Capital Buildings

Photos provided by Kanawha County Library and WV State Achives


1863 – 1870

West Virginia’s first state government, granted by President Abraham Lincoln on June 20, 1863, grew from this building at Linsly Institute in Wheeling. The Northern Panhandle city was the state’s largest when it broke away from Virginia.


Lawmakers decided Wheeling was too far north and sent the state’s capital south to Charleston. This building, opened in 1870, was the first Capitol in downtown Charleston. It no longer exists.


Lawmakers decided to move the capital back to Wheeling and this structure served as the state’s Capitol starting in 1875. The building was torn down a number of years later.


Charleston’s glorious Victorian-style Capitol opened in 1885 at the intersection of Capitol and State (now Lee) streets. The building served as the state’s center of government until a fire in 1921 burned it to the ground.


In need of temporary space, state government built the “Pasteboard Capitol” to serve as the temporary home of state government while a new building was constructed in the city’s East End. The “Pasteboard Capitol,” located along Washington Street, near Capitol Street and the Governor’s Mansion, burned to the ground in 1927.



Day Photo by Anthony Kinzer – Evening Photo by Lawrence Pierce

West Virginia’s Capitol dome seems to always shine, day or night, especially after being redone the way architect Cass Gilbert originally designed it in the early 1930s.

Repairing Senate’s Record on Lynching

Apology would be Congress’s first for treatment of blacks

By Avis Thomas – Lester – The Washington Post
June 11th, 2005

Washington – Anna Holmes remembers hearing about the bridge when she was a little girl. It stood somewhere near the spot where the Collington and Western branches of the Patuxent River met in Upper Marlboro, less than a quarter mile from the Marlboro jail . “I used to hear them talking about the lynching,” said Holmes, 79, who grew up in central Prince George’s County . It was on the bridge that a black man named Stephen Williams, accused of manhandling a white woman, was beaten and hanged about 3 in the morning on October 20, 1894. A masked mob snatched him from his jail cell and dragged him as he pleaded for his life. “When the Marlboro bridge was reached the rope was quickly tied to the railing and amid piteous groans Williams was hurled into eternity.”

The Washington Post reported at the time there was no federal law against lynching and most states refused to prosecute white men for killing black people. The U.S. House of Representatives, responding to please from presidents and civil rights groups, three times agreed to make the crime a federal offense. Each time, though, the measure died in the Senate at the hands of powerful Southern lawmakers using the filibuster. The Senate is set to correct that wrong Monday, when its members will vote on a resolution to apologize for the failure to enact an anti-lynching law first proposed 105 years ago . “The apology is long overdue,” said Sen. George Allen (R-Va) who is sponsoring the resolution with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La). “Our history does include times when we failed to protect individual freedom and rights.”

The Senate’s action comes amid a series of conciliatory efforts nationwide that include reopening investigations and prosecutions in Mississippi. Advocates say the vote would mark the first time Congress has apologized for the nation’s treatment of African Americans. Allen’s involvement could help mend his rift with black Virginians who criticized him for hanging a noose outside his law office, displaying a Confederate flag in his home and proclaiming a Confederate flag in his home and proclaiming a Confederate History Month while governor.



Project Preservation

The Restoration & Renovation of Harden-Gilmore Home


The Elizabeth Harden-Gilmore Home (1922-1986), located at 514 Leon Sullivan Way, is a landmark placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It is one of five sites that have been placed on this prestigious list in this section of the city. Formerly known as the Harden-Harden and Scott Funeral Home, it’s 60 year history embodies the spirit of a once vibrant African- American neighborhood and business district, (See “Black Past” By James D. Randall & Anna E. Gilmer). As the years passed and urban renewal surged forth, this vibrant and energetic neighborhood became non-existent. All that is left of a thriving community once home to many are Preston Funeral Home, *Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, *Garnett High School, *Samuel Starks Home, A. H. Brown Building, and *Mattie V. Lee Home.

Now, Leon Sullivan Way, formerly known as Broad Street, has become a gateway to the city of Charleston and an artery leading to the heart of a major historical district. The opportunity to recapture and maintain a valuable segment of Charleston’s history lies in the restoration and renovation of this property.

Join Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church as we begin a major restoration process of this historic property. When completed it will offer an opportunity for tourists, visitors and the community to participate and absorb the rich history embedded in the walls of one of the largest concentrated number of African – American historical sites in West Virginia. Your interest and financial support is needed to help revitalize an essential part of our city.


* National Historic Register Sites

Anthony Kinzer Sr.

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