On November 30, 1875, a fire broke out in Washington Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia while the state legislature was holding session there. The fire started small but grew out of control due to issues with lack of water and problems with the fire hoses and steam engines attempting to put it out. Three men were trapped on the third floor and had to be dramatically rescued, with one later dying from his injuries. The building was completely destroyed, leaving only bare walls by the afternoon. There was discussion later about potentially rebuilding. The state legislature was temporarily relocated but resumed sessions quickly thanks to arrangements made by the Capitol Committee to set up temporary quarters in the courthouse and a hotel.
Washington Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia was originally built in 1851 in the Gothic Revival style and played a role in West Virginia's statehood, hosting the first Wheeling Convention in 1861. The original structure was destroyed in a fire in 1875. A second Washington Hall with an opera house was built on the site in 1877 in a Victorian Gothic style. After being purchased by a bank in 1898, the building underwent a major redesign by architect Frederick Faris in 1911 into a Classical style which incorporated the original corner entrance. The 1911 structure still stands today under the name Laconia Building.
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Photo Credits: Ohio County Public Library Archives, Wheeling WV