Graceland was once the summer residence of Henry Gassaway Davis, U.S. senator, industrialist, railroad builder, and 1904 candidate for vice president of the United States. The house is now a country inn, operated by Davis & Elkins College and located on the college’s campus at Elkins.
The house is a notable example of Victorian architecture, primarily in the Queen Anne style. It was designed by the architectural firm of Baldwin and Pennington of Baltimore. Construction began in 1891 and was completed in 1893. The main house has two and a half stories with a large attic; the connected back building (service wing) has two stories with a smaller attic. The lower stories and chimneys are of native West Virginia sandstone, and the upper story is covered with wood shingles. The entire building is capped by a roof of red Vermont slate. The grand interior is elaborately and beautifully trimmed with West Virginia hardwoods, notably quarter-sawn oak, bird’s-eye maple, cherry, and walnut. Other characteristic Victorian features include ornamental plaster moldings, richly carved mantels, balusters, column capitals, and beautiful stained glass.
From 1986 to 1996, Graceland underwent a major restoration during which the exterior and significant interior spaces were returned to original condition. The restoration was performed with the aid of many late 19th- and early 20th-century photographs submitted by Bruce Lee Kennedy, the daughter of Grace Davis Lee, for whom Graceland was named.
Part of the Davis and Elkins Historic District, which is a National Historic Landmark, Graceland has taken its place alongside America’s architectural treasures. The mansion represents the best in late Victorian architecture.
This Article was written by Paul D. Marshall
Pepper, Charles M. The Life and Times of Henry Gassaway Davis. New York: Century, 1920.
Belanger, Ruth. Graceland: the Past and Future of an Elkins Landmark. Goldenseal, (July-Sept. 1979).
Marshall, Paul D. "Graceland, Home of Henry Gassaway Davis, 1823-1916." Elkins 1979.