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The mansion was the summer home of Stephen Benton Elkins, a United States Senator (1895-1911). Senator Elkins named the palatial structure in honor of his wife, the former Hallie Davis, a daughter of United States Senator Henry Gassaway Davis.
Today, the venerable mansion is completely restored to the style and spirit of its original décor, serving the college and Elkins communities as an elegant site for special meetings and receptions. It also contains the office of the president of the college and other administrative offices, including admissions.
Constructed of native hardwoods and stone, Halliehurst's turreted design was patterned after a Rhineland castle that Hallie Davis Elkins admired. New York architect Charles T. Mott added such fashionable features as lapped siding, cut wooden shingles, hipped slate roofs, and sprawling porches. Interior features included rich oak paneling, beaded trim work, and massive fireplaces framed in marble with hand-carved wooden mantelpieces.
Halliehurst is a 16,000 square-foot mansion with 56 rooms. It has three main floors capped by a roof punctuated with towers, turrets, dormers, and chimneys. There is a porch surrounding much of the first floor. At one point this porch extends to a portico two stories high. The portico's columns are among the most prominent features of the structure.
Halliehurst became the setting for elaborate social occasions, political caucuses, and business gatherings, which attracted the elite throughout the nation during Elkins's lifetime.
In 1923, Hallie Davis Elkins deeded Halliehurst to Davis & Elkins College. It subsequently has served a variety of college functions over the years: dormitory, classroom, and home of the college president. College functions were moved out of the building in 1982 because of concerns about fire safety. In 1985, a campaign spearheaded by a local philanthropist was launched to rescue Halliehurst from demolition. The building reopened for its current use in June, 1990.
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.