The Randolph County Courthouse (1902-04) at Elkins represents one of West Virginia’s most important examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The round-arch style adopted and revolutionized by Henry H. Richardson (1833-86) in the late 19th century was professionally interpreted in the Elkins building by architect J. Charles Fulton. Fulton’s ideas, emphasizing attributes of strength, weight and mass, see especially appropriate in the representation of force conveyed by the native rock-faced stone facing. Massing of the Randolph County Courthouse is similar to that of Fulton’s Barbour County Courthouse; the major difference is evident, however, in tower and corner tourelle placement which in the Elkins building is the reverse of the arrangement at Philippi.

The Courthouse is a modified rectangle of masonry construction measuring 103 feet by 76 feet. Walls are backed with brick and faced in rock-faced stone with contrasting smooth and textured stone trim. Height of the building from  ground to eaves is 60 feet. T tower flanking the gabled entrance pavilion is approximately 150 feet high.

Openings throughout are finished in contrasting stone trim. Especially ornate the spandrels of the arched entrance portal filled with finely executed foliate-style carvings. The gabled entrance pavilion is punctuated with tripartite, arched openings and smooth columnettes. Belt courses and broad cornices corbeled and detailed with modillions add horizontal emphasis to the mass of the building. Transom bars of stone suggest ribbon-like qualities in the groupings of windows at the side elevations. Heading the windows of the tourelle at the west corner of the building are blind arches enriched with carved foliate relief. An engaged buttress rising to the level of the second floor left of entrance carries an above- life-size classical-style figure holding-aloft the scales of justice.

Broad, red-tiled roof planes display another of the significant features of Richardsonian design. Ridges are capped with tiles and hip knobs.

A major interior space of the building is the octagonal main courtroom on the second floor. This chamber is reached by a large corridor measuring 14 by  41 feet. South of the seating area containing approximately 300 seats is the bench, elevated two feet above the floor, and separated from the audience by a railing.

The Randolph County Jail is a detached stone building of Romanesque manner standing at the corner of High Street and Court Street northeast of the courthouse, the larger companion building. Its principal feature is a massive  conical-roofed corner tower. Gabled dormers pierce the roof planes on either side of the tower.

Both the Courthouse and jail retain high exterior architectural integrity. Minor alterations have  been undertaken from time to time, though no additions have appeared to compromise the sense of space. Metal bar doors at the courthouse entrance represent a mine recent alteration.

The Randolph  County Courthouse and Jail are significant because they are the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Randolph County, West Virginia, largest county, and because they represent two sensitively detailed and imposing public buildings designed by J. Charles  Fulton, a prominent architect of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, whose reputation was highly regarded in northcentral West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania, in the early twentieth century. The companion buildings also are significant because they exemplify the evolutionary quality of an architectural mode the Richardsonian Romanesqe that declined in importance at the national level by the turn-of-the-century but remained vital at regional levels.

Following the removal of the county seat from Beverly to Elkins (named for Stephen B. Elkins, U.S. Senator) in 1393, the county court of Randolph ordered a new courthouse. Randolph County, formed in 1787 and named for a distinguished Virginia jurist and man, Edmund Jennings Randolph, desired an edifice befitting the status of the county, in land area in West Virginia. After plans had been submitted to and approved by the building committee comprised of Oliver Wilmoth, Leland Kittle, and J. E. Baker, construction begun in April 1902. Total cost of the building, including heating, plumbing, wiring, an, furnishings, amounted to about $200,000.00. The Randolph Enterprise of December 23, 1903, referred to the courthouse as “one of the most handsome, substantial and conveniently ar- ranged and furnished Temples of Justice in the State of Vest Virginia”. The growth of Elkins in this period,  influenced by the residence of political and industrial  giants Stephen B. Elkins and Henry Gassaway Davis, among others, demanded a distinguished public building  appropriate to the rising fortunes of a new city. It is little wonder then that Beverly lost her position as county seat, despite service as the seat of justice in Randolph County for 111 years.

Attention of the architect to proportion and balance of vertical units in the design of the Randolph  County Courthouse is noteworthy. The off-centered tower rises fro.- a battered base to integrate handsomely with the hipped roof, though the tower rises to a precipitous height. Its height would be  ungainly were it not for the adjacent steep ge? of the entrance pavilion which reduces the manmentality of the tower. Balancing these u: is a conical-roofed tower at the west corner. By emphasizing the cornice of this unit through corbeling, the conical roof is diminished and subordinate to the principal tower. The sane feature of corbeling in the tower, aided by corner buttresses, allows for a soar: quality of the roof above the open belfry. Outlining the various openings, and denarkatir the levels of the structure, are voussoirs, balustrades, cornices, belt courses,  colonnett blind  arches, transom bars, and quoins in light, contrasting stone trim.

J. Charles Fulton (1856-1924) a native of Buena Vista, Pennsylvania, entered the architectural profession about 1888 following several years of experience as a carpenter, builder, and contractor. He studied architecture under his uncle, Humphrey Fulton of Irving, Pennsylvania, before establishing an office in Uniontown. Fulton’s West Virginia commission addition to the Barbour and  Doddridge County courthouses, include the Methodist Protestant Church at Fairmont and several outstanding public and business buildings in Morgantown. Fulton’s services were much in demand in northcentral West Virginia before professional architects of this region established themselves in the first decade of twentieth century.

Neo-Romanesque R2vival buildings in the Richardsonian manner are not comon in West Virginia. Perhaps no more than tvo dozen examvles exist. Of these, only a dozen or so are noteworthy. The style appears in West Virginia as late as in 1924, though its use was never seriously considered as the Beaux Arts and Neo-Classical revivals came to dominate public taste in the state after the turn-of-the-century. The Randolph County Courthouse is, therefore, a valuable landmark whose architectural quality is enhanced as the years move by.