CHARLESTON, W.Va. — During yet another campaign year for the highest political office in the United States, an exhibit of nearly 10 former Presidents will be on display beginning Monday at the Craik-Patton House in Charleston.
About 30 Presidents have visited western Virginia before the Civil War or West Virginia after its statehood.
The “Hail to the Chief” exhibit features Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and more.
“The design is set up as all impromptu,” said Hayes Strader, an AmeriCorps member who began work on the exhibit at the Craik-Patton House in Dec. 2015. The set up isn’t stationary because the room is used for several events throughout the year, he said.
The exhibit highlights authentic campaign items such as posters, political novelties, photographs, newspaper articles, books and songs. For every President listed, there is information posted about where they visited statewide and what impact they had in West Virginia.
“One of West Virginia’s claim to fame is this gentleman here — John Davis who actually ran as the Democratic nominee. He’s from Clarksburg. Not too many people know about that. You’re not really taught that in your history books,” Strader said. “Unfortunately, he lost to (Calvin) Coolidge.”
Another important election in West Virginia was the 1960 Primary between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
“You could see for the month of April and May he was in West Virginia quite heavily,” Strader told MetroNews on a tour of the exhibit. Some of those places included St. Albans, Parkersburg, Charleston, Oak Hill, Elkview, Huntington, the panhandles, coalfields and more.
Paul Zuros, executive director of the Craik-Patton House, said one of their main goals of the exhibit was tie in what the significance of the house during the 18th century.
“I hope the community comes down and really learns about the history of the Presidents, learn about West Virginia history and learn about the history of our house too,” Zuros said.
“The Craik family that lived in this house, James Craik’s grandfather was George Washington’s personal physician,” he said. “So the family was intimately involved with the Washington family.”
The exhibit will be on display Monday at 10 a.m. and run through March.
Zuros said they hope to set it back up during the General Election in November.