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West Liberty State College

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1919 to present. Southeast side of Bethany Pk. (WV 88) at the south approach to West Liberty
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Begun as a private academy in 1837, the institution moved in 1857 to a handsome Gothic Revival building erected at a cost of $30,000, in expectation of state funds that were not forthcoming. Its moment of Gothic glory was short lived, as Bethany College, only three miles northeast, began its far grander Gothic Revival building, now known as Old Main ( BR1), one year later.

The academy was chartered as West Liberty State Normal School in 1870. In 1897 a new wing and tower were added to the original building. Baltimore architect Frank E. Davis, who was commissioned in 1895 to prepare plans for several of the state's normal schools, presumably provided the design. Early in the twentieth century, the college moved to a new site on the southern edge of town. In 1941 the college sold the old Academy Building to the Ohio County Board of Education. It was demolished in the mid-1970s.

Wheeling architect Frederic F. Faris designed the first buildings on the new campus in the Georgian Revival style, and his firm continued as campus architects throughout the twentieth century. The campus surrounds an open, rectangular green, somewhat reminiscent of the Lawn at the University of Virginia. Inasmuch as the surrounding buildings date from several periods, they lack any real architectural unity.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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