The Science Building was preceded by Northcott Hall, the first facility at Marshall built specifically for the science departments. In 1915, Northcott was built on the present site of Drinko Library. The stone arch framing the west entrance to Northcott Hall was preserved and remains a part of Drinko Library’s west face. By the 1940, Marshall was growing beyond what Northcott could provide. The West Virginia legislature allocated funds for a new science building, but the work was delayed by the outbreak of World War II. However, the sudden increase in enrollments following the war made the need for a new, larger building more urgent.
Construction began in 1948 on the Science Building and was finished by 1950. The four-story, brick structure cost $3 million to build. Unlike most buildings on campus, the Science Building was never given an eponymous name. Its most distinguishing physical feature was – and remains – a large stone facade on the north face containing tributes to influential scientists.
The Science Building was the most modern building on campus upon its opening, boasting advanced scientific facilities for its time. It contained laboratory facilities for many fields along with a science library, geology museum, herbarium, telescope platform, and a radio station. WMUL, West Virginia’s first public radio station, was originally hosted in the Science Building, utilizing the two large radio towers on top of the building. The new facilities allowed Marshall to participate in myriad scientific studies, and it immediately began receiving research grants from various organizations. Marshall President Stewart H. Smith declared that the Science Building would create “an enrichment of instruction in the sciences and… contribute greatly to the development and expansion of the industrial and scientific progress of West Virginia.”
Like Northcott Hall before it, Marshall would eventually begin to outgrow the Science Building. To meet the demands of a growing student body and address the aging infrastructure, the Science Building underwent a massive expansion project completed in 1984. A new four-story addition was constructed on the south side, nearly doubling the building’s available space. The original portion of the building was also renovated to update electrical, plumbing, ventilation, and climate control systems.[ Clio – Science Building, Marshall University ]