— Senator Davis' life was more than a mere illustration of the practicability of the Ciceronian and Plantanian theories of true happiness attended by success and contentment. "In his mellow old age," he was able to look out from the porch of his home on the commanding hill, adjoining the lusty young city of Elkins, and witness the day dreams of the Piedmont station agent transformed into perpetual realities that are redounding in innumerable benefits to multitudes of his fellow men, and to enjoy the satisfaction of gazing upon "that what he had wrought." Towns, mills, railroads, villages, cities[,] churches and schools, stood as monuments to meet the quiet gaze of the man who had brought them into thriving existence, and who dies, as he had lived, the architect of his own fortunes, the originator of his own dreams and their transformer into possibilities, bidding them, as he left, Godspeed, and bequeathing them as a heritage for unborn generations who will reap the harvest of "what he had wrought." —
Death of Henry Gassaway Davis
The Elkins Inter-Mountain
March 13, 1916

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Graceland (Circa 1892)
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, built by Henry Gassaway Davis and his wife, was completed in 1893. Graceland was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Baldwin and Pennington of Baltimore, MD. The farm on which the Inn was built originally consisted of approximately 360 acres. The exterior of the building is constructed of native sandstone in the Queen Anne style of architecture. The interior is decorated in native hardwoods, notably quartered oak, bird's eye maple, cherry and walnut.

The house was first named the Mingo Moor and then Mingo Hall, the name being derived from Mingo Flats, an area south of Elkins. In the end though, Davis named the house in honor of his youngest daughter, Grace. She was thought to be Davis's favorite daughter and had considerable influence regarding the decoration of the house. The original name was remembered by the restaurant, the Mingo Room, that was in Graceland.

Following the death of Davis's wife in 1902, Grace became her father's hostess and she and her family spent summers in Graceland. Davis conducted political and business affairs from his office in Graceland until his death in 1916. After his death, Grace and her husband continued spending summers in Graceland. In 1925 Grace's husband died and in 1931 Grace was killed in a car accident. The house was passed on to their children. The last owners of the house were Ellen Bruce Lee and her husband, John A. Kennedy.

The house was sold in 1939 and was acquired by the West Virginia Presbyterian Education Fund in 1941 and presented to the college. Until 1970, Graceland was used as a men's residence hall but in 1971 it was closed until the early 1990's when restoration began. The Inn received its first guests in 1996.

Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark and along with historic Halliehurst Mansion and two other historic buildings on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, forms what is now a national historic district, one of 169 in the United States.

 

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Graceland Inn & Conference Center | Davis & Elkins College
Elkins, West Virginia 26241 | 304.637.1600