At the turn of the twentieth century, Fairmont Avenue could hold its own with the great residential streets of America. In 1941 the WPA guide to West Virginia described it as a street of “elaborate mansions in landscaped grounds, built by coal barons in the prosperous days between 1870 and 1900, when the Fairmont coal fields were opened.” But that day is no longer. Fairmont Avenue today is a hodgepodge of fastfood chains alternating with churches now surrounded by parking lots. Only one or two of the grand mansions remain, but fortunately the grandest of the grand, High Gate, survives. Near the northeastern end of Fairmont Avenue, First Street was also considered a “good” address in the early twentieth century.
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