August 24th, 2015
Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Digital Projects and Outreach Archivist, WVRHC.
Bishop George W. Peterkin established Episcopal Hall to serve as a dormitory for future ministers as well as other male WVU students who needed living quarters. The residence hall stood at the corner of Willey and Spruce Streets, the current site of Trinity Episcopal Church. When the building was completed in 1895, it could house about 16 students, but an addition was built soon after that increased this capacity to 40.
Episcopal Hall ca. 1900.
Another view of Episcopal Hall with students on the porch roof.
According to a description 1896 Monticola yearbook, Bishop Peterkin felt that ministry students could get an education at the state school that matched the quality of a church school. He also believed there was an obligation to support state institutions. While the Hall was open to students who were not planning a future in the church, Episcopal Hall’s Warden, Reverend James Sheerin, advised, “young boys, unprepared by either experience or education to be treated as young men, are not encouraged to enter.”
The residents of Episcopal Hall ca. 1896-1898.
Episcopal Hall residents form a pyramid in their pajamas ca. 1900.
Boarding rates at Episcopal Hall were higher than other boarding houses in Morgantown. It offered comfortable accommodations and kept its occupants “well fed.” The Hall had “the usual bathrooms and parlors, etc.” and boasted a library and a reading room where “some of the latest magazines, magazines and papers” could be found. Reverend Sheerin also promised that Episcopal Hall residents would have assistance with their studies and advertised public lectures to be given by “distinguished men.”
A member of the kitchen staff at Episcopal Hall.
A horse and buggy navigates Willey Street in front of Episcopal Hall.
WVU student Leonard Hall, a member of the class of 1900, created scrapbooks to document his years at the University. These scrapbooks (A&M 5164) are being preserved by the West Virginia & Regional History Center. A portion of these images have been digitized and are available in West Virginia History OnView, the Center’s online photographs database.
After his years at WVU, Leonard S. Hall (1877-1959) lived in New Martinsville in Wetzel County, West Virginia and had his own law practice. He was twice married.
Hall’s intimate photographs show the students and staff who lived in Episcopal Hall. They also reveal the interiors of the living quarters. It is clear that Episcopal Hall residents took time to artfully decorate their rooms just as students do in modern dorms.
College students have long admired performers. Posters of American play actors at the turn of the 20th century, Lelia Wolstan, Robert Downing and Porter J. White, adorn the walls.
A bedroom with decorated walls and room to store a bicycle.
Sleeping students in Episcopal Hall.
School spirit is evident in the rooms as well. Long before the creation of the Flying WV, students placed “WVU” on walls and furnishings. The Hall also had its own football team.
WVU displayed proudly above sleeping quarters.
WVU above a seating area and closet.
Group portrait of the 1897 Episcopal Hall football team.
Episcopal Hall operated independently until 1907 when it was purchased by WVU. It served as a women’s dormitory until the completion of Women’s Hall (Stalnaker Hall) in 1918. The current Trinity Episcopal Church building was completed in 1952.
To see more images from the Hall scrapbook and read more about student life at WVU in the late 1880s, check out this blog post. All of WVU’s Monticola yearbooks are available for viewing and download on archive.org.
1896 Monticola https://archive.org/details/monticola01west
Trinity Epsicopal Church http://www.trinitymorgantown.org/id2.html