Old Main Virtual Museum Page
   Virginia ceased financing Marshall Academy in 1846, and in 1850 the Trustees offered control of the school to the Western Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which accepted the offer.

   In 1852 the Trustees recommended the need for a female department. The 1852 report of the Conference's Committee on Education adopted the suggestion to "improve & enlarge the buildings, so as to provide for a female department to be kept separate from the male." It then recommended that the Principal "devise the ways & means to procure funds necessary to enlarge & improve the buildings &c."

   In 1854 the Trustees resolved to expand Marshall Academy by building an addition on the existing building, as well as adding a third floor to it. The new structure would be thirty by fifty feet, three stories high, with a chapel on the first floor, and work could start when $2000 had been secured. The following year, a committee reported that the building was under construction and it would "give ample room for the accommodation of a large number of boarders," but an additional $800 was needed to finish it.

   In 1856 the first floor chapel was completed, but lack of funds prevented the completion of the upper floors, as well as the much needed addition of the third floor to the 1839 building. By 1857 the new addition was "only as yet partially completed." Lack of money, as well as the disruption of the Civil War, prevented the completion of the third floor expansion to the 1839 building until 1866 or 1867, after the state of West Virginia took control of the buildings.

   The new addition was a large three-story brick building, fifty feet long and thirty feet wide, attached to west side of the 1839 building. In 1870 another building was added to this addition on its western side, and at that time a veranda, which ran the entire length of the building, was added. This photograph clearly shows the veranda. There was no similar structure on its southern exposure. Based on these photographs, drawings of the appearance of the 1856 building's southern and northern sides as they appeared upon completion can be prepared.

   In 1867 the third floor was added to the original 1839 structure, resulting in a change to the building's appearance on its southern and northern sides. The addition of the 1870 veranda again altered the appearance of the building's north side.

   There are no known photographs of the 1839/1856 building's interior. Floor plans, based on available evidence, indicate it had a full basement. The first floor was designed as a school chapel and doubled for Sunday worship services for local congregations. When completed, the second floor contained classrooms and the third floor held a ladies dormitory. By 1867 the third floor dormitory was extended to include the 1839 building, giving it its final appearance.

   Largely through the influence and efforts of long-time Trustee John Laidley, the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill on March 8, 1858 that changed the school from an academy to a college. The combined 1839/1856 buildings served as Marshall College's class rooms, dormitory, and chapel until the Civil War. During that unsettled period the Methodist Church lost control of the buildings, which were used as a private residence as well as, briefly during the war, a military hospital.

   The new state of West Virginia secured control of the buildings, and in February 1867 the legislature designated Marshall College as the state's first Normal School for the preparation of school teachers. These buildings served as Marshall College until 1870, when yet another building was added to them on the west. The two original structures were razed in 1897 in preparation for the construction of the current structure on Old Mainís eastern end.

Page last modified 20 June 2003 | Maintained by the Lisle Brown, Curator, Special Collection
© 2003, Special Collections, Marshall University