By the 1830's farmers had largely cleared the bottom land west of Guyandotte and they began to build better homes to replace the original log cabins. The old log Mount Hebron Church looked rough and forlorn. A group of these men determined in 1837 to improve the old school building and petitioned the Virginia General Assembly to establish an academy to better educate their children. Among the leading proponents was John Laidley.
On March 13, 1838, the Assembly passed a bill incorporating the new academy and designating nine men as the Trustees of Marshall Academy. Laidley, a friend and admirer of John Marshall (who had died some three years earlier), was instrumental in having the school named after the former Chief Justice.
On June 25, 1838, the Cabell County Board of School Commissioners transferred its surplus monies to the new Academy, giving the school its first operating funds
THE 1839 BUILDING
The new two-story brick building was twenty-two feet wide and fifty feet long. Large foundation stones, four feet long and two feet wide, weighing over 600 pounds, supported the building. The stones had been hauled down the Ohio River to Holderby's Landing. There were classrooms on each of its two floors, as well as a room that served as a chapel. The building was completed enough to begin classes in September 1838 (the term continuing until August 1839). It was finally finished in March 1839.
In 1848 a student wrote that "there were too many [students] for comfort," indicating that by then the small building was insufficient for the growing student body. The building served as the Marshall Academy's only structure until 1856. In that year a new structure was added to its west side. The plans at that time also called for a third floor to be added to the original building, but lack of funds postponed completion of the third floor until 1867, after the state of West Virginia took control of the school. The third floor extended a dormitory from the 1856 addition. At some period (likely in 1867) a three-story veranda was added on the south side, giving the building it final appearance.
After nearly six decades of use the building was razed in 1898 to make room for an entirely new building.
© 2003, Special Collections, Marshall University