February 2nd, 2017
A historical photograph exhibit titled “Through the Looking Glass: Early Glass Plate Views of West Virginia University” will open in the Erickson Alumni Center’s Nutting Gallery on February 7 to mark the 150th anniversary of West Virginia University’s founding.
The display will include more than 30 prints made from glass plates from the holdings of the West Virginia & Regional History Center that illustrate the formative years of WVU from 1867-1920. The exhibit will be open to the public Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and remain on display through March 31.
“These photos reveal just how much the University has changed from its early years to the present,” WVRHC Director John Cuthbert said. “Morgantown was a sleepy little village, Westover was non-existent and WVU consisted of just a single building at times. The founders would be stunned to see the sprawling globally significant institution it has become.”
On February 7, 1867, the West Virginia Legislature created the Agricultural College of West Virginia. Five years prior, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act, which provided funds to establish public colleges to teach agriculture and engineering.
In September 1867, University President Alexander Martin and six faculty members welcomed six college students and 118 preparatory department students (young men preparing to attend college) to campus. The following spring, the Legislature changed the school’s name to West Virginia University.
It would be three years before the school opened its first new building, Preparatory Hall, which would later become Martin Hall. The first section of Woodburn Hall, initially called University Hall, would be built in 1876.