Monongalia County Seal

General Information

Monongalia County Courthouse History

Monongalia County was created from the District of West Augusta (Virginia) by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1776 and was named in honor of the Monongahela River. When the bill creating the county was being prepared the spelling was changed to Monongalia and no one knows whether this was a spelling error or if it was changed on purpose.

Patrick Henry was the Governor of the State of Virginia at the time the county was organized. A 9’ tall, solid, single log carving of Patrick Henry remains standing within the annex of the Courthouse currently located on High Street.

The original Courthouse was a small farm building located on a plantation owned by Col. Theophilus Phillips’. It was located near the town of New Geneva, in present day Springhill Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. In 1782 after the extension of the Mason Dixon line made this location a part of Pennsylvania, the county seat was moved south to the home of Zackquill Morgan until a new wooden court house was completed between 1782 and 1785 at a cost of $250. It was about this time that George Washington visited the area.

The first trial to result in the sentencing of death by hanging in 1796 took place at this location as mentioned by Bishop Asbury in his Journal. Charles Donaldson was found guilty of murdering his son. That primitive structure was later demolished.

In 1802 a third courthouse was build consisting of two floors with offices on the first floor and jury rooms on the second floor. In 1848 yet another two-story brick building was erected to replace the third building at a cost of $6,500. The aforementioned nine foot statue of Patrick Henry was placed on the dome of this courthouse two years later.

The current courthouse was completed in 1891 at a total cost of $43,478. Later, in 1976 renovations were made to the original construction and an annex was added at a cost of $1.5 million.

Construction of a new building to house the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department will begin in the summer of 2010 with projected completion in early 2012. Estimates for this facility are approximately $7 Million.