Everything old is new again: New turns for old places

West Virginia’s rich history is captured in lovingly restored churches, train stations, schools and homes that have been converted to markets, art galleries, restaurants boutique stores and arts centers throughout the Mountain State. Pay a visit to some of these unique venues and you can bask in historic ambiance dating as far back as the Colonial era.

Wheeling’s Centre Market, built in 1853, is older than the state itself. In fact, the Upper Market House—originally an open-air market—is the oldest market house in the country, and even the “new” Lower Market House was built in 1891. The market, home to Coleman’s Fish Market and Wheeling Brewing Company, features an eclectic mix of shops, boutiques and eateries in the heart of downtown.

Huntington got its start as a railroad town, and today Heritage Station serves as a reminder to the golden age of rail service. The former B&O Railroad Station houses the Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau and a collection of charming shops, restaurants and artisan studios. Events held at Heritage Station include the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues & Art Festival and the Rails & Ales Craft Beer Festival.

Charleston’s Capitol Market is yet another old train station that’s been converted into shops. Here you can buy fresh meat, seafood, wine and craft beer, and shop for locally grown produce and West Virginia-made gifts. It’s also home to Soho’s Italian Restaurant host to several popular events like the Green Chili Cook Off.

The Szilagyi Center for Visual & Performing Arts, once known as Rowlesburg High School, now houses a World War II museum and sports museum, research library, café, art studio and an antiques and collectibles store. The school’s old gym has been converted to a fitness room for public use, converting it into a true community hub.

Lauded by Budget Travel as “America’s Coolest Small Town,” historic Lewisburg has a knack for repurposing old buildings and repackaging them as cultural meccas. The old Lewisburg High School, built in 1924, opened in 2017 as Lee Street Studios, Centre for the Arts—a venue for gallery openings, concerts and social events. The center also rents studio space to artists. Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall was founded in 1812 as the Lewisburg Female Institute, an arts college, and later renovated with funds from famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The school closed in 1972 and reopened in 1990 as an arts center, when it took its new name.

Housed in an 1890s-era structure once described as “the handsomest building in Hurricane,” the newly renovated building that once served local Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias chapters now houses Hidden Creek Mercantile, an arts collective featuring the work of more than 40 artists, an upstairs meeting space, and The Merc eatery. The shop has become an anchor for the revitalization of Main Street and also serves as a welcome center for the City of Hurricane.

Across from the train depot in Elkins, a historic hotel has been converted to the Delmonte Market, which houses merchandise from West Virginia artisans. You can find items like gourmet foods, home décor, retro-styled toys, unique jewelry and even an ice cream shop. Every Tuesday during the summer, the market also hosts an antique car cruise-in.

The old train depot in Mannington, which dates back to the Civil War, shuttered its doors to rail passengers in 1955. But thanks to the efforts of the city’s Main Street organization, it has reopened as Nativibes, an art studio and gallery where locals can come to ignite their creative spark.

Once home to a furniture store, Arts & Antiques Marketplace in Fairmont is the place to find both old and new treasures. The three-story building is filled with arts, antiques and collectibles, with more than 80 shops and artists represented. The marketplace also serves as a venue for art classes and antiques restoration workshops.

If you’ve never been to Cathedral Café, you won’t have any trouble finding it. The “coolest little hippy joint in Fayetteville” is set in an old stone church in this New River Gorge town. You can sip a caramel latte or tuck into a smoked salmon pita pizza amidst vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows. The café also features local artisan work for sale.

The Starving Artist Studio established The Sanctuary within a historic church building in Bridgeport. The gift shop at The Sanctuary carries the work of more than 20 local artisans, from paintings, photography and sculptures to handmade soaps and candles. The venue also hosts painting classes and private parties.

Dedicated in 1786 by Charles Washington, brother of George Washington and founder of Charles Town, the stately brick building known as Charles Washington Hall is newly renovated and houses the Charles Town Visitor’s Center and Bushel & Peck farmer’s market, with goods for sale from roughly 20 vendors in the 1,600 square-foot space.

Browse the works of West Virginia artists and artisans at Appalachian Gallery, Morgantown’s largest framing studio, gallery and gift shop, located in the historic Price House. Also known as the Sandcastle building, the brick and stone Romanesque-Gothic structure boasts beautiful original features like handcarved oak woodwork and stained-glass windows. While in town, you might want to make a stop at the gift shop at The Old Stone House. Built circa 1795, it’s Monongalia County’s oldest building.

Artistry on Main captures the small-town charm of Buckhannon. The co-op of more than two dozen artists is set in a newly renovated, early-1900s brick building on historic Main Street. Shop for handmade works and homemade goodies, or sign up for an art of creative writing class.

Set in a rail town on the picturesque New River, Hinton Historic District consists of buildings representative of popular late 19th and early 20th-century architectural styles. Historic buildings house businesses like Otter & Oak, an outdoor recreation outfitter; The Market on Court House Square, serving flame-grilled burgers and brick oven pizza; and The Ritz Theatre, which hosts movies and live entertainment.

Where have you visited?

This post was last updated on July 31, 2020