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Goff Building

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1909–1911, Milburn, Heister and Company (Frank P. Milburn). The southwest corner of W. Main St. and Court Alley, adjacent to the Harrison County Courthouse

Not to be outdone by Virgil Highland and his Empire Bank Building, Judge Goff built a skyscraper nine stories tall—or perhaps eight and one-half, since the top floor is accommodated in an expansive, dormered mansard roof. The Goff Building is Beaux-Arts with a bang, representing one of the high-water marks of this urbane, academic architectural mode in West Virginia. On occasion, as in New York's 1902 Dorrilton Apartments, which the Goff Building resembles to a marked degree, Beaux-Arts decorative flourishes went almost too far. The editors of Architectural Record wrote of the Dorrilton that “the sight of it makes strong men swear and weak women shrink affrighted.” Fortunately, the Goff Building stops short of invoking those reactions.

Like the Dorrilton, the steel-frame Goff Building, with shops on the street level and offices above, is U-shaped, an arrangement devised to give as much light and ventilation as possible. Here, the single-bay that forms the core of the U is so narrow that little advantage is gained. Typical of Beaux-Arts design, the brick-faced building has lavish stone trim. Bricks (all 982,000 of them) were kilned locally at the Glen View Brick Company, while thirtytwo tons of marble came from Alabama.

Frank P. Milburn, one of the nation's most prolific turn-of-the-century architects, is seldom accorded a place in the front ranks of his profession. His Goff Building, even if somewhat derivative, shows more creative sparkle than many of his works.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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