MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Birthday wishes are pouring in for West Virginia University.
On Feb. 7, 1867, Governor Arthur I. Boreman signed a bill to create the Agriculture College of West Virginia.
Tuesday, the university kicked off the beginning of a year of large and small celebrations of the school’s 150th anniversary.
According to WVU Curator John Cuthbert, the City of Morgantown offered everything belonging to Monongalia Academy, dating back to 1814, for the new college.
“That included a building that was located where the police department is today and also the Woodburn female seminary which was their female counter-part to the male Monongalia Academy which was downtown. Woodburn seminary was right on the spot where Woodburn Hall is,” Cuthbert explained.
The former Agriculture College of West Virginia was created through the land grant act that provided funding to establish colleges specializing in agriculture and mechanical arts.
“Right from day one, the people of West Virginia wanted it to be more than just those things. Basically they wanted a full range college that offered everything the great colleges of the U.S. offered,” continued Cuthbert in an interview with Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews “Talkline”.
Stewart Hall, which flanks University Avenue and Prospect Street, is the current administrative building housing the president’s office.
That wasn’t its first purpose.
“In addition to being a library it was also the university museum. After they built it they realized while it was the handsomest building in the state, it’s frequently billed as that, the way they built it was like an echo chamber. So, it never really worked well as a library,” said the curator.
Martin Hall, which sits across Grumbien’s Island and is part of Woodburn Circle, is the campus’ oldest building.
Along the way, the university’s footprint has expanded, changed and been improved.
Jon Cawthorne, WVU Dean of Libraries, said there is no better time for alumni to return to Morgantown for a visit.
“We had a renovation of the library about 16 years ago. It’s really wonderful. We also have the West Virginia Regional History Collection. We have a Jerry West exhibit there right now. We’ll be featuring more. I encourage them to come back and look at their history and be really proud of what’s happening here,” stressed Cawthorne.
Academics have evolved from agricultural offerings to the creation of a medical school and law school.
John Denver performed at the opening of the football stadium that was built on the Evansdale campus replacing the stadium that sat adjacent to Woodburn Circle.
“It shows photos of everything from beanies to Uggs. There’s a then and now interactive section on the website where you can move a slider on the screen and compare past and present views of campus. There are lots of ways for people to join in and help us celebrate,” noted Ann Berry, WVU Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Outreach.
On the official anniversary, WVU hosted events at the Davis College, Health Sciences Center and Mountainlair.
A half-time celebration is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11 during the WVU vs. Kansas State game at the coliseum.