Architect Harry Rus Warne (October 10, 1872-April 25, 1954) was born in Parkersburg. He studied at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He also studied under established architects, including Richard H. Adair of Parkersburg.
After a brief practice in Parkersburg, Warne accepted a junior position in the office of the Supervising Architect, U.S. Treasury Department, Washington. Later he moved to Charleston, forming a partnership with architect Charles G. Rabenstein. The firm they established in 1902 would continue after Warne’s retirement under the leadership of C. E. Silling. The century-old company, now Silling Associates, is one of the oldest continuing architectural practices in the United States.
Among Warne’s most important early commissions were the 123-foot high Coal Column and the West Virginia Building, the state’s two exhibits at the 1907 Jamestown Exposition in Norfolk, Virginia. The coal column has long since disappeared, but the building remains as officers’ housing at a navy base. Warne also designed the West Virginia Building at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
Warne’s flair for design may be seen in the Masonic Temple Building, a 1915 project which added impressive Neo-Gothic Revival details to an 1895 building that had partially burned. Warne kept his own offices in the building, still a Charleston landmark. Residential design played a key role in his work, as successful businessmen sought out Warne to design large, fashionable houses. He designed houses in Edgewood, South Hills, and Kanawha City, growing residential neighborhoods of Charleston. Many were of the Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival styles.
As his firm prospered after World War I, Warne designed many public buildings and schools. By 1921, the partnership of Warne, Tucker, and Patterson was established. Warne’s buildings during this period included the State Masonic Home in Parkersburg, the main building at Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, and Charleston High School.
Other buildings include Edgewood Country Club (which was destroyed by fire) and the second Edgewood Country Club; the United Fuel Gas Building; Littlepage Terrace and Washington Manor, low-cost housing; St. Marks United Methodist Church (all in Charleston); and 40 state institutional buildings, including dorms at West Virginia University. His buildings on the National Register of Historic Places include the Boone County Courthouse, Charleston City Hall, Nicholas County High School, and houses in Charleston’s Grosscup Road Historic District. The Boone County Courthouse is considered the finest expression of neoclassicism in southern West Virginia.
This Article was written by Judie Smith
Last Revised on October 05, 2012