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Snapshots of WVU in the 1960s, Part 3, Towers Residence Halls

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 21st, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

In the course of researching and preparing for this blog series of historical photography of WVU in the 1960s, I sometimes discovered material documenting inaugural moments, such as the opening of Towers 1 and 2, as will be shown here.  The construction of the Towers in Evansdale was part of a building initiative in the 1960s that transformed much of the campus, resulting in the Creative Arts Center, the Forestry Building, and the Mountainlair. 

When these new student residence halls opened in Fall, 1965, the University News Service sent a photographer to document the activities involved with the inception of this building complex designed for 900 students.  His or her photography work was then filed, maintained, and ultimately delivered decades later to the History Center at WVU Libraries.  Cataloging work on the negatives in this collection has enabled me to create this blog series, and as indicated in a previous installment, the preservation of the original negatives means I can work with high quality source material that renders subject matter with clarity and detail.

The first three images are from a file labeled “Twin Towers, First Student”.  From the title of this file we can plausibly deduce that these photos were shot on opening day, although we can’t determine who the “first student” is with only this evidence at hand.

 

Students inside Towers Residence Halls, 1965

Opening day, Towers residence halls, September 1965.
(Photograph from A&M 5188, West Virginia University,
News Service, negative file 00239.)
(Click image to view larger version)

The incomplete construction work to be seen in the background further corroborates the chronology of this image to the opening day.

 

Students moving into Towers residence halls, 1965

Opening day, Towers residence halls, September 1965.  (Photograph from
A&M 5188, West Virginia University, News Service, negative file 00239.)
(Click image to view larger version)

 

Students and staff gathered at a desk during the opening day of Towers residence halls, 1965

Opening day, Towers residence halls, September 1965.  (Photograph from
A&M 5188, West Virginia University, News Service, negative file 00239.)
(Click image to view larger version)

The stacks of handbooks for women students (with illustrated cover) on the table, and the subjects in the photo, suggest that this image is documenting registration in the nine-story north tower, which was designated for women.

 

Two female students in a dormitory room at WVU, 1966

Dormitory room, north tower, January 1966. (Photograph from
A&M 5188, West Virginia University, News Service, negative file 00471.)
(Click image to view larger version)

While the first three photos in this blog appear to have a documentary purpose, this photo, shot at a later date, was clearly designed for publicity.  Can one imagine the average dorm room being this free of clutter?

 

Mr. James Watkins (center), standing with two other people, 1967

Mr. James Watkins (center), Head Resident of Twin Towers, June 1967.
(Photograph from A&M 5188, West Virginia University,
News Service, negative file 00649.)
(Click image to view larger version)

James Watkins, the head resident of Twin Towers in the first year of 1965-1966, is pictured here in his office.  Other Towers staff for the first year included Priscilla Haden, Associate Head Resident; Jean Benson, Dietitian and Executive Housekeeper; and 18 graduate assistants, 20 undergraduate assistants, and 3 night supervisors.

 

Sources consulted:

The Twin Towers, West Virginia University, Opening Fall, 1965 [commemorative booklet], 1965.

West Virginia University, Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State, by William T. Doherty, Jr. and Festus P. Summers, 1982.

The WVU Woman, A Handbook for and about the Women Students of WVU, 1965-1966, West Virginia University Bulletin, August, 1965.

For related web pages, see:
Snapshots of WVU in the 1960s, Part 1, The Computer Center
Snapshots of WVU in the 1960s, Part 2, Wise Library

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