WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Nov. 8, 2019 — Historic Shaw Hall, located at the main gate of West Liberty University, marks 100 years of existence soon. At the time of its construction, it was built as the first dormitory on campus for what was then known as West Liberty Normal School.
President John C. Shaw, who was the first official president of the school (previous leaders were referred to as principals), was behind the land purchase and building of the prominent structure, which took bold action and years of planning. He served from 1908 – 1919.
Appealing to the state for funds to build adequate student housing first in 1910, he was denied. He began to buy land anyhow and eventually purchased the Hilltop acreage where Shaw Hall was built along Bethany Pike, also known as Rt. 88.
World War I and other stumbling blocks didn’t deter him and the three-story red brick building was completed late in 1919, after the state appropriated $70,000 thanks to his second appeal. The first students moved into the historic building in January 1920 and it remained a dormitory until 2010.
Built in the Classic Revival style, the front and end facades are dominated by two-story porticos with Ionic columns. The main entrance is similarly constructed with columns and a classic design.
Initially, Shaw Hall housed female students and it is the oldest building on the campus of West Liberty University.
It remained a dormitory until recently, when it was remodeled and restored to create a building appropriate for office and administrative use. It retains much of the beautiful oak woodwork and decorative details typical of its time period. It opened in it restored state in 2012 after about two years of extensive restoration.
Historic Shaw Hall is now an administrative building that houses the President’s Suite, Admissions, Advancement, the Alumni Office, Business and Finance offices, Campus Police, the student Enrollment Center, Health Services, Marketing and Media Relations and the Provost Suite.
It also features an impressive Board of Governors meeting room, additional meeting room spaces, employee kitchens and storage space.
Shaw Hall played an important role in the growth of WLU, providing space for residential students and thus making it possible for more students to attend the school. Within a few years of its opening, the state funded more construction including a new library and classroom building, a classroom and laboratory building and a gymnasium.
As growth continued, the teacher preparatory institution became West Liberty State Teachers College and eventually West Liberty State College in 1943. In 2009, the school achieved university status and was renamed West Liberty University.
In 1996, Shaw Hall was named to the National Register of Historic Places. It remains a stately reminder of the long history of West Virginia’s oldest public university.
WLU now offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs, both online and on campus.
For more information, please call 1.866.937.8542 (WESTLIB), visit westliberty.edu or follow WLU on social media. To view more about WLU, please visit westliberty.edu/youtube.