Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia



Philippi is located in north-central West Virginia on the Tygart Valley River. Chartered in 1844, it is the county seat of Barbour County. Both the city and the county were named for Philip Barbour, a Virginia congressman and delegate to the 1829–30 Virginia Constitutional Convention.

Philippi was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War, June 3, 1861, a skirmish afterward remembered as the ‘‘Philippi Races’’ for the hasty retreat of the Confederate forces. The town’s famous covered bridge, constructed in 1852, served both northern and southern troops. For many years the only two-lane covered bridge serving a federal highway, its exterior was reconstructed in 1991 using the original plans of its designer, Lemuel Chenoweth. Civil War encounters in Philippi are reenacted every spring during the Blue and Gray Reunion. The Philippi Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and is part of the National Civil War Discovery Trail.

The courthouse, constructed in 1903, replaced the original frame building. Another landmark is Alderson-Broaddus College, a liberal arts institution related to the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. Other major employers include the public school system. The economy is based on natural resources, particularly coal and wood. The 2010 population of Philippi was 2,966.

Philippi operates many of its own utilities, including water, sewer, electricity, and natural gas. In 2006, Philippi became the first city in West Virginia to run fiber-optic cable to every home and business within its boundaries. The project provided every resident and business with access to digital cable and high-speed Internet.

A residential community, Philippi is within approximately half an hour of Audra State Park and Tygart Lake State Park. Also easily accessible are Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, and Snowshoe Resort. Adaland, the 1868 Greek Revival home of Barbour County Sheriff Augustus Modisett, stands near Philippi.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Philippi Historic District.

Written by Barbara Smith