Old Main Virtual Museum Page
   Following the act that brought Marshall College under state control in February 1867, the West Virginia Board of Regents met at Guyandotte and took title to the college's lot and building for $3,600 on August 1, 1867. They also purchased ten acres of land from William Holderby adjacent to the buildings for $1000, enlarging the campus to eleven and a quarter acres.

   In early 1869 the Board advertised for the construction for another building at Marshall College. William W. McCoy of Marietta, Ohio, submitted the lowest bid of $22,900 and won the contract on February 23, 1869. Apparently working from the plans of an unnamed architect, McCoy completed his work by January 1870. The final cost was $23,700 because of "deviation from the architect's plan, at an extra expense of several hundred dollars." 

   The 1870 addition faced west, being attached on its eastern side to end of the 1856 building. The new building was a three-story brick structure, some seventy feet by forty feet in dimension, with a full basement made of stone. A large bell tower was incorporated on the north side, as a transitional structure between the new addition and the 1856 building. The contractor also built a wide veranda along the entire northern exposure of the original 1839-1856 building, which added "greatly to its utility and beauty." Entrance to the building was through a double door on the west end. The first and second floors contained classrooms, and the third floor housed a dormitory for both men and women---men on the 1839 and 1856 sections.
    Based on a few old photographs and the few existing descriptions of the 1870 building, it is possible to draft likely floor plans for the basement, ground floor, second floor, and the third floor.
    It is also possible to draft exterior views of the north side, south side,as well as the east and west ends. These are views of buildings that no longer exist.

   A female student later wrote about this new building: "The new addition to the college was built in 1870, and we had a lot of fun moving into our new dormitory....to make room for the boys in the old corridor . . . . Many of the boys hither-to roomed in the neighborhood, but now we are were housed under the same roof. Previous to this we had a music room, but no parlor, now we had both. We also had a new porch [northern veranda] on which to promenade after supper . . . until [Principal] Prof. [Samuel R.] Thompson became very strict and almost stopped our Proms." (White, Metamorphosis of Old Main, p. [7].)
   A male student also described the living arrangements in the building: "The whole top floor was a dormitory, then; One half for the women, one half for the men." (Ibid., p. [8].) A heavy locked door separated the two dormitories, with the key kept by the principal's office. One student wrote a poem about the new building, especially about a strategically placed "hole" in the door between the two dormitories. The building could now handle a student body of about 200 with dormitory rooms for about half of them. The Principal, as well as other faculty members, were also housed in Old Main.

    With the construction of the 1870 addition Marshall College's three-part building remained unchanged for nearly the next quarter century. The 1870 section remains today; it is the earliest section of Old Main to survive to the present. The southern side appears basically as it did when built in the 1870s. However, during an extensive renovation in the 1890s the entire interior was remodeled and the northern exterior wall was extended, giving it the distinctive curved shape seen today.

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