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McKinley’s Palace

One of West Virginia’s most famous and elegant mansions is Willow Glen, known in the Wheeling area as McKinley’s Palace. Requiring six years to build (1914–20), the mansion was the gift of Johnson Camden McKinley to his new bride, Agra Bennett McKinley.

Born in Parkersburg, McKinley came to Wheeling in 1893, and by 1908 had become a millionaire coal operator. He was named for his uncle, the industrialist and U.S. senator, Johnson Newlon Camden. His young wife, a member of Weston’s distinguished Bennett family, had on her 18th birthday been presented at the court of King George V and Queen Mary of England.

Built of locally quarried sandstone, Willow Glen featured a grand salon where more than 300 guests danced to the music of Fred Waring at the mansion’s completion in 1920. In addition to the ballroom, Willow Glen had 11 bedrooms, eight baths, a formal dining room, a library, a billiards room, and, in the basement, a mine that provided coal for the furnace. The mansion was furnished with treasures from the McKinleys’ extensive travels, each room containing some unique art object or item of furniture, such as a bed once owned by Benjamin Franklin. Many of the stained glass windows and other interior features, such as lighting and metal fixtures, were especially designed for the home by Tiffany Studios.

Designed by Pennsylvania architect Fred Dempwolf, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Willow Glen is still privately owned and occupied, with its 1920s grandeur intact.

Written by Louis E. Keefer and Olive Watson


  1. "." National Register of Historic Places Nomination, West Virginia Division of Culture & History, 1983.