Founded in 1819, the Romney Literary Society was the first literary organization of its kind in the present-day state of West Virginia, and one of the first in the United States. In 1846, the society constructed a building which housed the Romney Classical Institute and its library. The Romney Literary Society and the Romney Classical Institute both flourished and continued to grow in importance and influence until the onset of the American Civil War in 1861.
During the war, the contents of the society’s library were plundered by Union Army forces, and many of its 3,000 volumes were either scattered or destroyed. After a reorganization in 1869, the society commenced construction of the present Literary Hall in downtown Romney. It transferred ownership of its Romney Classical Institute campus to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind in 1870 and in that year completed Literary Hall, where the society reconstituted its library collection and revived its literary activities.
The Romney Literary Society’s last meeting was held at Literary Hall in 1886. From 1886 to 1973 the building was used as a meeting space by the Clinton Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star. In 1973, the building was purchased by prominent Romney lawyer Ralph Haines, who used it as a law office and museum. From 1937 to the early 1940s the building also housed a community library. Literary Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 1979.