Powerhouse near Beckley found eligible for national register

23940
Powerhouse near Beckley found eligible for national register
State officials have declared a landmark near Beckley eligible for the national register. (Photo courtesy David Sibray)

RALEIGH, W.Va.—A landmark industrial building near Beckley, West Virginia, has been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Advertisement

The former powerhouse for the Raleigh Coal & Coke Company—perhaps best known for the swastika motif that decorates its trim—was found eligible based on its architectural and industrial importance, according to Cody Straley of the State Historic Preservation Office.

A close-up of swastika emblems on this building in Raleigh, West Virginia, reveals other architectural details.
A close-up of swastika emblems on this reveals other architectural details.

"It is our opinion that the property is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places," Straley stated in a letter to historian David Sibray, a preservation consultant and real estate agent.

Sibray submitted the property, which he's listing as an agent for Foxfire Realty, for an official assessment. The listing, here, contains a wealth of information on the property.

Advertisement

Straley confirmed that the property qualified as "a unique, intact example of coal company town infrastructure in West Virginia."

Metal windows and sconces highlight the interior of the Raleigh Powerhouse.
Metal windows and sconces highlight the interior of the powerhouse for the Raleigh Coal & Coke Co. at Raleigh. (Photo: David Sibray)

Sibray said inclusion on the register would allow the property to qualify for grants and tax credits for preservation, restoration, and maintenance.

"It will take more time and study to see the property on the register, but knowing that it officially qualifies and that financing would be available will greatly benefit owners," Sibray said.

Built in about 1906, the powerhouse was among the first buildings built at Raleigh, a company-owned mining community that mined and exported coal under the label "Black Knight Coal."

Advertisement

The company's success led to the creation in the 1920s of the nearby Black Knight Country Club and the surrounding Raleigh Heights residential development, which was later incorporated into the City of Beckley.

Officials with the Raleigh Coal & Coke Co. stand for a photo outside the powerhouse
Officials with the Raleigh Coal & Coke Co. stand for a photo outside the powerhouse c. 1906.

Sibray said the powerhouse was the nerve center of operations at Raleigh, providing electricity to six mines and housing some 1,000 miners and their families. However, the building in recent years has gained notoriety for its architecture.

"Like a lot of other people from the area, I would see the building and wonder what it was for and what was inside," he said.

Many who pass by wonder at the swastika designs, but Sibray says the decorations were in place long before the Nazis adopted a variation on the design as an emblem.

Advertisement

"The design has nothing to do with nazism. It was just a decoration like a scallop or a fleur de lis," he said. "But like the postage-stamp mustache, it still stops people in their tracks."

Once filled with electrical equipment, the building has been used chiefly as a warehouse since the coal company closed in 1950. It is now for sale through Foxfire Realty for $99,000.

  • Explore other West Virginia buildings and districts on the National Register here.

Sign up for a FREE copy of West Virginia Explorer Magazine in your weekly email. Sign me up!

Facebook Comments

Advertisement