Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Graceland Inn

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Institution Name: Davis & Elkins College
Original/Historic Place Name: Graceland
Location on Campus: 100 Campus Dr.
Date(s) of Construction:
1893original construction Baldwin & Pennington
Designer: Baldwin & Pennington (Baltimore, MD)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: limestone, sandstone
Walls: stone
Roof: Vermont red slate
1893-1941private residence
1945-1971residence hall (men)
1996-present (2006)other (country inn and conference center with 13 guestrooms; used for the college's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program)

The mansion was the summer home of Henry Gassaway Davis, a United States Senator (1871-1883), and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States. Graceland was named for Davis' youngest daughter, Grace.

The mansion is now a significant tourist destination with its restoration and conversion into a college inn and conference center, offering upscale accommodations. Students majoring in the college's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program have educational experiences in this restored facility.

Poised on a hillside above the small mountain town of Elkins, the majestic Graceland mansion commands a 20-mile view of the beautiful Tygart Valley. Built in 1893 by Senator Henry Gassaway Davis, one of West Virginia's wealthiest coal and railroad barons, this example of Queen Anne style architecture features native sandstone and hardwoods.

The mansion was built to accommodate the kind of lavish entertaining naturally expected of a man of Davis' stature. Windows were designed by a workman from Tiffany's; a tiled fireplace, surmounted by a wooden mantle, supported by wooden Corinthian columns, is a dominant feature on the first floor; the main staircase harmonizes with the style of the fireplace.

Enjoyed by two generations of the Davis family, the mansion was acquired in 1941 by the West Virginia Presbyterian Educational Fund, and in 1945, the building and immediate grounds were presented to the college. Until 1970, the structure was used as a men's residence hall, and in 1971, due to ravages of time and vandalism, it was closed.

In 1996 Graceland was restored as a country inn and conference center. Graceland's 13 guest rooms are distinctive and furnished with period pieces to recreate the original Victorian elegance.


Feller, Laura, and James H. Charleton. Davis and Elkins Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1996.

Ross, Thomas Richard. Davis & Elkins College: The Diamond Jubilee History. Elkins, WV: Davis & Elkins College, 1980.

Ross, Thomas Richard. Henry Gassaway Davis: An Old-Fashioned Biography. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing Co., 1994.


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Last update: November 2006