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WesBanco (Watson Building)
This exemplary manifestation of earlytwentieth-century tall building design stands heads and shoulders (literally and figuratively) above the rest of downtown Fairmont. Designed by a nationally prominent architect, and built by William Miller and Sons of Pittsburgh, it housed the National Bank of Fairmont on its main floor and offices of the Watson family's Consolidation Coal Company above.
Atop a granite base, the walls of the eightstory, steel-frame structure are sheathed in smooth Indiana limestone. The first floor is rusticated, and its arched openings have prominent voussoirs. Office floors two through six have paired windows on both street facades. Floors seven and eight are conceived as a unit, and the eighth-story windows have arched heads, echoing those on the first story. A perfectly proportioned dentiled cornice finishes the upward thrust. Everything about the building seems just right. Nothing is superfluous, nothing is lacking. The Consolidation Coal Company had forty-eight coal mines in the area with 10,000 employees when the building was constructed. The company, one of the largest mining and distributing companies in the United States, was known as one of the “good” coal companies. The Watsons sought to provide adequate housing and amenities for miners in their employ at a time when such concern was seldom the norm. The owners, obviously pleased with their new building, used its image in advertisements and even named the company's baseball team the Watson Skyscrapers. Still well maintained, the building continues, under new ownership, to house a bank on the main floor and offices above.
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