Earlier known as Cranberry, Terra Alta received its present name in 1883 when the community sought to become a summer resort, attracting vacationers from humid, low lying urban areas to the “high land.” The B&O cooperated by erecting a handsome Shingle Style station, and a hotel and several private cottages were built. Highland Avenue, southwest of downtown, was the choice address, as several large Colonial Revival houses with expansive porches still attest.
By the early twentieth century, Terra Alta had progressed to the point where it tried to wrest the designation of county seat from Kingwood. Citizens commissioned architect Frank P. Milburn to design an impressive Beaux-Arts “county capitol” with a monumental Ionic portico and domed cupola. Although the town offered to build and furnish the courthouse, it never achieved the 60 percent majority of county votes required to approve the change of venue.
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