100 Years and Growing: 1930-1939

The 1930’s proved to be a decade of considerable change and growth for Marshall. Five new buildings gave rise to a true campus look. In the Depression years, the college president accepted “IOU’s” and even potatoes from some students to cover tuition. A new, more liberal president introduced the new ideas. It was a time of athletic championships. A flood devastated the region and inundated the campus, and Marshall celebrated its 100th birthday.

Dr. James E. Allen assumed leadership at the midway point of the decade, succeed Morris P. Shawkey, who had served 12 years. Allen, president of Davis and Elkins College for more than 25 years, came to the campus pledging to make Marshall more than a teachers college. Allen was a strong proponent of a liberal arts education.

The West Virginia Board of Education in 1938 authorized Marshall to offer the master’s degree in six disciplines – chemistry, education, history, political science, psychology and sociology.

New buildings included James E. Morrow Library in 1931 and Shawkey Student Union in 1933. The Centennial year of 1937 was highly significant. In addition to the extensive anniversary observances, the Artists Series was started and construction also was completed for the Hodges-Laidley Halls complex and Jenkins Laboratory School (now Jenkins Hall).

The Marshall campus in the mid 1930’s was much more open then it is today. Old Main is in the center with the James E. Morrow Library at the left and Northcott Hall to the right.
The James E. Morrow Library has seen many changes through the years. This picture was taken before the 1960’s wrap-around addition. The main reading room of the library was on the second floor before the renovation. The library, dedicated in January 1931, is named for Marshall College principal James E. Morrow, 1872-73, whose son, Dwight W. Morrow, contributed $25,000 toward its construction.
Shawkey Student Union was the social center of campus for nearly four decades. Named after President Morris P. Shawkey, 1923-1935, it was opened in 1933. At the time, the college was a bit of a pioneer by having a student union. The building was used until the construction of the Memorial Student Center in the early 1970’s. The old student union was located in front and just west of the present student center. The space is now a parking lot.
Marco, Marshall’s buffalo mascot, has come in all shapes and forms during the years, but this version in the early days of Fairfield Stadium is one of the stranger ones.
Marshall fell victim of the 1937 flood in the pre-floodwall days as did the rest of the Ohio River valley. IFlood waters mirror James E. Morrow Library in 1937. Water is also halfway up the Shawkey Student Union in the background.
The Centennial year of Marshall College in 1937 was marked with numerous celebrations, including the unveiling of the original campus bust of Chief Justice John Marshall in front of Old Main. Charles Marshall Scott, the 11-year-old great-great-grandson of the chief justice, performed the unveiling.
The 1939 June graduating class of Marshall College numbered slightly more than 225. It was the first ceremony presided over by President James E. Allen, who had been at the school since September. This promotional piece also showed the Commencement and Baccalaureate speakers. At the bottom is the architect’s proposed new men’s and women’s dormitories and dining hall soon to be built. The dormitories are Hodges and Laidley Halls, still in use. The dining hall became the home of the Community College in 1975
Each spring, the campus filled with pageantry as the “Unquenched Torch” offered a pleasant exit to graduating seniors. This practice continued until the late 1930’s. The ceremony here was conducted on the lawn at the north side of Old Main which is where Smith Hall is built. Third Avenue is in the background.