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Paxton Fountain

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The Paxton Fountain in Wheeling

In a communication to the city councils of Wheeling on the 10th of September 1878, James W. Paxton—president of the North Western Bank of Virginia in 1860 (renamed National Bank of West Virginia in 1863), advisor to Governor Pierpoint under the Reorganized Government of Virginia, and one of the principle advocates for West Virginia statehood—presented the city with the fountain located on Capitol square. The fountain, which came to be known as the Paxton Fountain, was formally unveiled and accepted by the city, with imposing ceremonies, November 9th, 1878.

The Paxton fountain stood in front of the old City-County Building main entrance which faced Chapline Street. A description from West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State, by Federal Writers' Project, 1941 reads: 

"From the center of a large octagonal pool rise two elaborate groups of figures, one supporting and the sumounting a basin. Beneath te basin rim are four pairs of half-draped female figures in contemplative attitude, chin on hand, and between ear pair are the figures of two small boys astride a large red-mouthed fish. Above the basin are figures of cherubs palying about the feet of a standing woman. From the mouths of the fish and from pipes held by the cherubs and women gush tiny streams of water."

In 1956, when the old City-County Building was demolished to make way for the current City-County building, an attempt was made to move the fountain. However, in the attempt to move it, the fountain was broken beyond repair.

▶ Read the newspaper article from the November 9th, 1878 dedication (Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Monday Morning, November 11, 1878)

View 1881 City Ordinance "For the Protection and Preservation of the Paxton Fountain and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument." 


Formerly sat in front of the West Virginia State Capitol building (1876-1885), later the old City-County building, facing Chapline Street, midway between 15th and 16th Streets. It is said that when the City-County Building was being demolished in 1956 an attempt was made to move the Paxton Fountain but it broke beyond repair.

Paxton Fountain Location, Wheeling, WV


Paxton Fountain

Additional Resources

Vertical File: Wheeling Monuments: A-Z, Wheeling Room, non-circulating, ask for access at Reference Desk.
▶ The Paxton Family: a genealogy / by Adelaide Paxton Doran, 1987. Wheeling Room, non-circulating, ask for access at Reference Desk. CALL #: Wheeling 929.2 P289Dp

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