West Virginia Legislature

2024 session will open with renovated House of Delegates chamber

CHARLESTON – Visitors to the House of Delegates chamber this session will find it to be fresher, brighter and more open, follwing its first renovation since 1995 and only the second since its 1932 dedication.

House Clerk Stephen Harrison offered a tour of the refreshed chamber on Friday. The $2.36 million project began following the August special session and was substantially completed in mid-December, though there are still some finishing touches to do before the session begins on Wednesday.

David Beard/The Dominion Post

The renovation began with the old, red carpet taken up and floor-to-ceiling scaffolding that filled the whole chamber erected. “The renovation was past due,” he said. “This is an important place to keep looking as it should.” Guests and tourists come in to see the chamber. “This gives them an impression of our state.”

Improvements include a new electrical system and improved sound system with new microphones, speakers and acoustic panels.

A new coat of paint in the existing color scheme brightens up the walls.

But what you’ll notice most are the new carpet and chairs. The new carpet continues the traditional red color scheme, but adds a navy-blue studded gold starburst pattern for improved visual effect.

House Clerk Stephen Harrison explains the renovations. David Beard/The Dominion Post

The previous red delegates chairs were oversized, and those who’ve sat in them know they were hard to move and tuck up to the desk, and just plain uncomfortable. The new chairs, a a blue to match the carpet pattern and more maneuverable and comfortable. The 90-plus-year-old black walnut desks are freshly sanded and stained.

The press tables got an upgrade too – with panels with USB and electrical outlets that rise and recede from the tops of the tables, so we don’t have to crawl on the floor to plug things in. The press row also got new chairs.

The two tall chairs at the speaker’ dais weren’t replaced, but were reupholstered.

Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

Air ducts were cleaned and new vent covers include an outline of West Virginia in the center.

Harrison pointed out that the burgundy curtains in the corners of the chamber were removed, to futher brighten the room with more exposed marble.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw commented in a press release, “I often talk about how everything we do in this building has the potential to affect all 1.8 million West Virginians, and I hope all West Virginians are able to take the time to come visit the people’s building and feel the pride I’m honored to experience every day when I come here to work. We have the most beautiful state capitol in the entire United States, and with this project we’ve been able keep our House Chamber looking its best while also improving safety, accessibility and modern-day functions.”

Email: dbeard@dominionpost.com