Kanawha County was formed by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia, effective October 1, 1789, from Greenbrier and Montgomery Counties. The new county covered an area of approximately 2,092 square miles, but did not have a courthouse in the county seat at Charlestown (Charleston). All necessary court proceedings were held in the home of William Clendennin at Fort Lee, site of the settlement of Charleston, until 1796. In that year the county acquired for George Alderson a lot where the first courthouse, a one-story log building, was erected. It served until 1817 when a brick, two-story edifice, 50 feet square, was built. This building was inadequate with the expansion of Charleston in the late 19th century and was torn down in two days time beginning on April 7, 1888.
County Commission President John S. Cunningham, and Commisioners W. S. Laidley and C.S. Young selected the plans of the Richmond, Virginia architectural firm of Shieff and Highnam for the new courthouse. The building was erected in 1892, at a cost of $153,000, in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and stood unaltered until 1917 when the Kanawha Street (Blvd.) addition was erected.
1. Collins, Rodney S., West Virginia Department of Culture and History, Kanawha County Court House,nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
The Kanawha County Judicial Annex building was constructed between 1980 and 1982. The seven story building is located across Virginia Street from the Old County Courthouse. It is bound by Virginia, Court, Quarrier, and Goshorn Streets in downtown Charleston. Its address is 111 Court Street, Charleston WV 25301.
Elected officials began using the building in 1983. It is now used by seven full-time Circuit Judges, ten full-time Magistrates, and five Family Court Judges. Additionally, the building houses the staffs of the Circuit Clerk, Magistrate Clerk, Mental Hygiene Services, and West Virginia Adult and Juvenile Probation offices. All civil and criminal proceedings for Kanawha County take place in the building.
AEP / W. Kent Carper Buildings:
The W. Kent Carper Justice & Public Safety Complex was so named after being renovated in 2010. The buildings were donated to Kanawha County by the original tenant, American Electric Power and Appalachian Power Company. The office building, or A Building, originally opened in 1930, is now home to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The B Building has a large equipment bay which houses the Sheriff’s Office’s many specialized vehicles for the SWAT, Bomb, and Methamphetamine Lab Teams; as well as a Crime Scene truck, and a boat for use of the dive team and other operators. A wash-bay is available to clean cruisers and conduct some vehicle maintenance, and there are several locked storage areas where additional equipment is secured.
The B Building also houses a training center consisting of a 48 seat auditorium for classes, lectures, press conferences, and meetings, and a simulator room with driver and judgment shooting scenario equipment. A secure sally port and booking area for prisoners increases the safety of the public, Deputies, and arrestees; a modern communications office allows employees to monitor radios, telephones, computer data, teletype releases, and CCTV for Kanawha County.
Offices for victim advocates are located in the B Building. That team helps crime victims navigate the criminal justice system. They can be reached at 304-357-0499. The Legal Process Division offices are there, too. Its members serve civil paperwork, like subpoenas, court orders, and eviction notices, throughout Kanawha County. The phone number for the Legal Process Division is 304-357-0166.