By Brandi Burger, Contributing Writer
April of 1965 marked the groundbreaking for the construction of West Liberty’s Hall of Fine Arts Building. Although the building seems to be something students now have accepted as a normal part of the campus, the construction of the Hall of Fine Arts building was a major event in its time.
Before the building was constructed, art related courses were held throughout the campus in areas such as Main Hall and College Hall. The space was limited with art classrooms located in a general classroom space and works of art were hung in the hallways rather than displayed in a gallery.
The Hall of Fine Arts has evolved over the years and has guided West Liberty’s students in a positive direction. The building includes Kelly Theatre, art studios, an art gallery, music practice rooms, piano labs, a choral room, band rooms, general classrooms and faculty offices. Prior to the development of the Hall of Fine Arts, West Liberty’s course catalog offered only art education. Thanks to the Hall, West Liberty now offers majors in visual arts, graphic design, digital media design, and art therapy to name a few.
Senior Dental Hygiene major Gretchen McCardle gave her thoughts on the building. “I took theater as well as a few other courses in the building and found that I have benefited from all of them,” said McCardle. “The setting was different than the science classes that I was used to and I left the classes feeling a little more well-rounded as a student. The building is such a big part of the campus and I could not imagine West Liberty without it.”
The addition of the Hall of Fine Arts not only added more courses and concentrations on campus, but it also produced many talented alumni while also making it possible for many great guest artists, performers, and important figures to appear at West Liberty. The building houses many events including the annual Hughes’ Lecture Series with figures such as author and military historian General Oliver North, former Pittsburgh Steelers football coach Chuck Noll and stand-up comedian Carrot Top.
Although the building was not yet open to students in 1965, the courses offered in subsequent years shined light on not only those interested in art, but the entire campus. This hall has encouraged students to broaden their horizons with more courses and concentrations in fine art and will continue to produce talented alumni for years to come.