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Christmas in July: Ornaments of WVU Buildings

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 21st, 2014

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.


Though many of us don’t think about it, the buildings that make up the landmarks of our daily lives change over time.  West Virginia University is no exception.  Interiors are refurbished, wings are added, facades are restored, and new buildings are being constructed even now.  Some of our campus landmarks have been memorialized in holiday ornaments, donated to the WVRHC as part of a collection in processing which will soon be A&M 3950, tentatively called the Vaughn L. Kiger Collection of Historical Photographs and Records Regarding Morgantown.  These ornaments are part of a series produced by Heritage Collection in the 1990s.  I’ve paired each ornament below with an older photograph from our West Virginia History OnView database to highlight some of the changes, or lack thereof.  

Elizabeth Moore Hall

The result of many efforts to get facilities for women on campus, Elizabeth Moore Hall was originally the women’s physical education building and also held women’s’ dormitories and offices for the Dean of Women.  Completed in 1928, the building was named after Elizabeth Moore, the former principal of the Woodburn Female Seminary who also operated the Morgantown Female Seminary from its founding in 1869 till it was destroyed by fire in 1889.  This building is part of the National Register of Historic Places, one of eleven main WVU campus buildings to be placed on that illustrious list.


Ornament of Elizabeth Moore Hall

Ornament of E. Moore Hall, ca. 1990s

Elizabeth Moore Hall after a Snow Storm, West Virginia University (ca. 1960-70)


Colson Hall (the Old Law Building)

The former College of Law building was built in 1923.  The six names chiseled across the front, Story, Blackstone, Minor, Kent, Marshall, and Coke, are the surnames of prominent legal scholars.  In 1972, the building was renamed to honor Clyde Lemuel Colson, who was Dean of the College of Law from 1956 to 1964 and twice acting president of WVU.  Two years later, due to increased enrollment, the College of Law was moved out of Colson Hall.


Ornament of Colson Hall

Ornament of Colson Hall, ca. 1990s

Colson Hall, West Virginia University

Drawing of Proposed Law Building, 1920 (would become Colson Hall);
note the architectural differences, especially on the upper floor


Chitwood Hall (Science Hall)

Construction of the third oldest building on campus was spurred by additional funding offered by the Second Morrill Act.  The state legislature apparently provided an initial sum for the construction of the science building at a cost up to $40,000 (Doherty 129).  Science Hall, as it was known at the time, was built in 1893 with an addition built in 1909.  It was renamed in 1972 in honor of historian Oliver Perry Chitwood, professor emeritus of history at WVU.


Ornament of Chitwood Hall

Ornament of Chitwood Hall, ca. 1990s

Chitwood or Science Hall, West Virginia University

Science Hall, ca. 1900.  The exterior hasn’t changed much since then, but what about the interior?  It was renovated around 1980.

Physics Lab Equipment In Chitwood Hall, West Virginia University

Physics Lab Equipment in Chitwood/Science Hall, undated


Woodburn Hall

Woodburn is WVU’s second oldest building, completed in 1876, shortly after Martin Hall was built in 1870.  It sits on the same site occupied by the Woodburn Female Seminary before the University was established.  The north wing was built in 1900 and the south wing was added in 1911.  It too was renovated around 1980.


Ornament of Woodburn Hall

Ornament of Woodburn Hall, ca. 1990s

Woodburn Hall, West Virginia University

Woodburn Hall, ca. 1895, before the wings were constructed and the cupola was added.


Building date information used in this post was found in the appendices of William T. Doherty’s West Virginia’s University: Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State, 1980.  Further information was provided by the leaflets accompanying each ornament.  Additional ornaments in this collection include Morgantown High School, the West Virginia State Flag, and the Dr. and Mrs. James A. Cox House in Morgantown.

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