Sunrise mansion is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Charleston. The Georgian structure overlooking the Kanawha River and downtown Charleston was built in 1905 by West Virginia’s ninth governor, William A. MacCorkle. Sunrise was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
After leaving office in 1897, MacCorkle turned his attention to his Charleston law practice and to building a family home suitable for a man of his standing and accomplishments. He began the construction of Sunrise in 1905. The three-story stone structure has 36 rooms and a gabled roof dotted with dormers and chimneys. The paneled great room is two stories in height and features an ornate fireplace built with stones MacCorkle collected from cities around the world, including London, Rome, and Versailles, as well as places in Egypt and China. After the mansion’s completion, MacCorkle entertained many distinguished visitors there, including Adlai Stevenson, William Jennings Bryan, and John Philip Sousa. MacCorkle died at Sunrise in 1930.
Sunrise and an adjoining mansion built by MacCorkle for his son, William Goshorn MacCorkle, were sold in 1936 by MacCorkle’s heirs and acquired in 1945 by the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army sold the houses and grounds to Sunrise Foundation in 1961. The foundation operated the property as a popular museum complex. In 2003, the museum moved to a new, larger exhibition space at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in downtown Charleston, and the Sunrise name was discontinued as a name for the museum. Sunrise mansion was sold back into private hands, and most of the grounds were given to the city of Charleston.
Sunrise mansion was named for MacCorkle’s childhood home in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Read the National Register nomination.
Written by Eleanor Mahoney