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Karen Stuebing | profile | all galleries >> Bluefield, West Virginia tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Bluefield, West Virginia

Lying in the shadow of the 3,400 feet high East River Mountain, Bluefield is the highest city in West Virginia. This accounts for its temperate climate and name of "Nature's Air Conditioned City." Since 1941, The Chamber of Commerce has sponsored Lemonade Days when free lemonade is given out at several locations when the temperature tops 90 degrees.

The name of the city is derived from the fields of blue chickory that grows abundantly in the region.

One of the best known local residents is John F. Nash, Nobel Prize winner in economics and the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind."

Bluefield was originally settled by the Scots Irish Davidson and Bailey families shortly after the Revolutionary War.

At first it was a rural farming community. The discovery of the Pocohantas Coalfield after the Civil War changed all that. North Western Railway chose Bluefield for its headquarters for the Pocohantas Division.

The railroad built a huge switching yard that parellels Princeton Avenue which along with the trainyard divides the city's downtown from residential housing on the opposite hills.

The city was incorporated in 1889 and as the population exploded so did buildings and amenities. At one time, Bluefield boasted the highest per captita automobile ownership in the country. It became one of the first cities in the world to have a noticeable skyline with high rises that were only comparable to New York and Chicago in their day.

With a strong ethnic community, Bluefield was the site of the 1895 founding of the Bluefield Colored Institute, the nation's first college with primarily black students. That college is today's Bluefield State College.

Isolated by topography and built on steep hillsides, Bluefield residents were a close knit community. There was a saying "If you don't like standing around in Bluefield, you can always lean up against it for awhile."

During the Second World War Bluefield was reportedly on Hitler's bombing target list due it's shipments of metallurgical coal.

In the 1950's the modernization and mechanization of coal mining led to a significant drop in employment and stores began to close as the population dropped and families left the area.

Buildings and grand old Victorian houses were abandoned and fell into neglect and decay.

Efforts have begun to revitalize this beautiful historic area. Downtown Bluefield was added to the National Historic Registry in 1987 as the Bluefield Downtown Commercial Historic District and encompasses 280 acres and 73 buidlings.

The buildings serve different functions now but the exteriors have remained unaltered and in many the interiors look as they did almost a hundred years ago. Three of these buildings were constructed by Alex B. Manhood, Sr.

The 12 story grand old West Virginian Hotel built in 1924 was the tallest building in southern West Virginia and is now an apartment building.

The Law and Commerce Building built in 1912 houses CASEWV and law offices.

Unfortunately, many of the old wood frame houses are slated for demolition. Those built of brick remained structually sound and are being bought and renovated.

There are new businesses springing up including a little internet coffeeshop, The News and Brew, where I can check my email during breaks from the class I'm attending here. When I'm not running around with my camera of course. :)

I've included a couple of older photos here as well.

Mural of Bluefield As It Once Was
Mural of Bluefield As It Once Was
Looking Up Federal Street
Looking Up Federal Street
Farther Up Federal Street
Farther Up Federal Street
The Man on Top of the Building
The Man on Top of the Building
Looking Down Towards Princeton Avenue
Looking Down Towards Princeton Avenue
Former West Virginian Hotel
Former West Virginian Hotel
Entrance to Former WV Hotel
Entrance to Former WV Hotel
Top of the Former West Virginian Hotel
Top of the Former West Virginian Hotel
Cat in Window - Former WV Hotel
Cat in Window - Former WV Hotel
Federal Street - Window in the Law & Commerce Building
Federal Street - Window in the Law & Commerce Building
Hallway in Law & Commerce Building
Hallway in Law & Commerce Building
The Innard Workings of the Law & Commerce Building
The Innard Workings of the Law & Commerce Building
Old Bank Building
Old Bank Building
Drop Box in Old Bank Building
Drop Box in Old Bank Building
Arts and Science Building
Arts and Science Building
News and Brew
News and Brew
The Bells of Sacred Heart
The Bells of Sacred Heart
Eyes in the Sky
Eyes in the Sky
Falling Down
Falling Down
Close Up of Damage
Close Up of Damage
Slated for Demolition
Slated for Demolition
Doorway
Doorway
Needs Some Work
Needs Some Work
Block Glass Window
Block Glass Window
Art Deco Restroom
Art Deco Restroom
Old Fashioned Sprinkler System
Old Fashioned Sprinkler System
Architectural Detail
Architectural Detail
Bluefield Trainyard
Bluefield Trainyard
Parking Garage
Parking Garage
Free Lemonade
Free Lemonade
Dr. Phil Comes to Bluefield, West Virginia
Dr. Phil Comes to Bluefield, West Virginia