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Holly Grove is the oldest house in the city of Charleston. It was built in 1815 by Daniel Ruffner, fifth son of pioneer salt maker Joseph Ruffner, who had arrived in the Kanawha Valley in 1796. Today the house is part of the state capitol complex in Charleston and was used for state offices into the early 21st century.

Holly Grove was originally the centerpiece of a plantation encompassing all of the present East End of Charleston and much of downtown. Daniel Ruffner advertised Holly Grove as an inn because of its size and its proximity to the James River & Kanawha Turnpike. Famous guests included Henry Clay, Samuel Houston in his younger days, John J. Audubon, and in October 1832, President Andrew Jackson.

In its original form Holly Grove was a two-story rectangular brick building with a small entry portico facing the Kanawha River. The walls are 18 inches thick, and there was a dining ell at the northwest end extending north. A fire in 1832 destroyed most of the original interior wood trim but enough remains to identify its grandeur and style. James H. Nash bought the house in 1902 and subsequently made significant changes. His renovation, including a grand half-circle portico with great columns, and extension of the attic to create a third-story space, are what we see today.

Holly Grove was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It housed a number of state agencies until 2004, when concerns over handicapped access and outdated fire protection techniques led the state to abandon the building. In 2005, the West Virginia Department of Administration committed $3.5 million for renovating the interior and exterior of the mansion. The exterior renovation was complete by the summer of 2010, but renovation of the interior has not occurred.

In 2023, the state issued an official call for an architectural/engineering evaluation and historic assessment of Holly Grove.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination.

This Article was written by Paul D. Marshall

Last Revised on September 13, 2023


Cohen, Stan & Richard Andre. Kanawha County Images. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company & Kanawha County Bicentennial, 1987.

Morgan, John G. & Robert J. Byers. Charleston 200. Charleston: Gazette, 1994.

Dayton, Ruth Woods. Pioneers and their Houses on Upper Kanawha. Charleston: West Virginia Pub., 1947.

Cite This Article

Marshall, Paul D. "Holly Grove." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 13 September 2023. Web. 18 April 2024.


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