Charleston, West Virginia is Popular with Religious Groups

Charleston was founded in 1794 and contains religious treasures such as St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was used by the Union Army during the Civil War. Besides its religious attractions, Charleston’s geography accommodates attractions like the Criel Mound and Treetop Canopy tours.

Religious Attractions

The First Presbyterian Church, located on Leon Sullivan Way, was built in 1915 and the Byzantine interior was modeled after St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy. The church showcases music through its choirs, including the Geneva Choir and the Capella Bell Choir.

The St. John's Episcopal Church of Charleston

The St. John’s Episcopal Church of Charleston

St. John’s Episcopal Church, built in 1839 and located on Quarrier Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. St. John’s hosts Manna Meal, which serves food to the homeless every day.

Kanawha Presbyterian Church

Kanawha Presbyterian Church

Kanawha United Presbyterian Church, on Virginia Street, is believed to be Charleston’s oldest church, dating back from 1816. The church hosts four handbell choirs.

Christ Church United Methodist, located on Quarrier Street, began in 1804 when the first meeting of Methodists took place.

The Blessed John XXIII Pastoral Center, minutes from downtown Charleston, is a place for religious and non-profit group retreats, workshops and conferences. The center offers meals, lodging and prayer services for groups.

Charleston’s Tourist Attractions

Jarrett said, “Charleston also is a gateway to wild and wonderful West Virginia activities. Not many cities can offer skiing, world-class zip line canopy tours, white water rafting, ATV tours, golfing, hiking, fishing, boating, mountain biking and so much more within a short distance.”

The West Virginia State Capitol, built by Cass Gilbert in 1932, features a golden dome and a second-floor ceiling decorated with leaves of West Virginia’s trees. The building houses the Supreme Court and Law Library as well as legislative chambers. Guided tours are available. The Governor’s Mansion features a sunroom, ballroom and a state dining room. Reservations are preferred for the Governor’s Mansion tour.

West Virginia State Capitol Building

West Virginia State Capitol Building

Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia features over 800 artworks from artists like Miro, Picasso and Warhol. The Avampato Discovery Museum, also a part of the Clay Center, showcases galleries like “Milton Gardner’s Earth City” and “Gizmo Factory” physical science exhibit.

C&O's Locomotive "Big Mike"

C&O’s Locomotive “Big Mike”

C&O Train Depot Museum, located 13 miles from downtown, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains railroad photos and artifacts. Tours are available by appointment.

Craik-Patton House, also known as Elm Grove, was built in 1834 and was one of the first clapboard framed houses in Charleston. The tour includes exhibits of frontier living and discussion of Rev. James Craik’s family ties to George Washington. The exterior of the house showcases herb and boxwood gardens. Tours are available April-October.

New River Gorge Canopy Tours, located in Lansing (53 miles away from Charleston),  offers the “Treetops Canopy Tour” where guests can experience a half-day adventure with 10 zip lines, five sky bridges and three quick hikes.

New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge, located in Fayetteville (51 miles away from Charleston), is one of the world’s largest single-arch steel span bridges. It stretches 3,030 feet across the gorge.

Heritage Towers Museum & Culture Center, located in Eastern Charleston, displays African-American history through African art and culture with exhibits such as “Slave Life” and “Jim Crow/Civil Rights.”

Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha State Forest, located seven miles from Charleston, offers camping, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and fishing. The forest has 19 species of wood warblers, which draw birders from as far away as Canada.

The Criel Mound, an Indian mound located in South Charleston (the second largest in West Virginia), is believed to have been built between 250 and 150 BCE. The 35-foot-high burial site was part of an Indian village over 2,000 years ago.

Charleston’s Annual Festivals

FestivALL begins in June and includes 10 days of dance, theater and music all over Charleston. It has featured celebrities like Jennifer Garner.

Live on the Levee concert series at Haddad Riverfront Park (downtown Charleston) occurs every Friday from Memorial Day weekend through August.

The three-day Multifest at the State Capitol begins the first Friday in August. The festival includes music performances, art and food.

Bridge Day

Bridge Day, located in Oak Hill (51 miles from Charleston), is West Virginia’s largest one-day festival and claims to be the world’s largest extreme sports festival. The festival occurs in early October and features sports such as BASE jumping, a parachute jump from fixed objects and known as one of the most dangerous sports, and rappelling, a sport involving riding up and down ropes.

Charleston Boulevard Rod Run and Doo Wop occurs in the beginning of October and features car shows, prizes, parades, fireworks and music.

Charleston has a vast array of cultural and religious backgrounds and is attractive to most religious groups. Among the religious groups that have gathered in Charleston are American Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Methodists and Jehovah Witnesses. 

 Jama Jarrett, director of communications at the Charleston West Virginia CVB