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High Gate Mansion, Fairmont, WV

James Erwin Watson, pioneer coal operator, banker and businessman, purchased land in Fairmont to erect one of the most magnificent homes in West Virginia.

In 1909, he hired Horace Trumbauer of Philadelphia, Pa. to design his home. The mansion encompasses over a block of land and is an excellent example of Tudor revival domestic architecture.

Designing the gardens was landscape architect Oglesby Paul. The Pittsburgh-based companies of William Miller & Sons and James J. Walker & Company built the home and effected the engineering.

Construction for this million dollar mansion began in 1909, and completion of the 25-room residence and carriage house was by 1912.

The inside of the mansion is as elaborate as the exterior. The 1st story walls are veneered with native rubble stone and the upper levels are stuccoed between 6-inch strips of chestnut. The red-tile roof is broken into gables, and the many windows are trimmed with Indiana limestone.

The entrance vestibule is paved with white Vermont marble and trimmed in pink Tennessee marble; the floors are covered with a mosaic of mahogany and oak; the walls are paneled in oak; the stairway handrails are hand-carved; mantelpieces are carved from Italian marble and the ceilings are ornamented with plaster leaf and acorn designs.

The grounds are landscaped with shrubbery, boxed hedges, flower beds, and magnolia, white birch, and catalpa trees.

The Watson mansion was names “High Gate” for the wrought iron fence and decorative gates which enclose it. High Gate proclaims power and status through the usage of wood, stone and tile – a well-suited home for a coal baron such as J.E. Watson.

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