Historic Shepherd University
"Old Campus Elm Series"
Shepherd University Campus Elm Pens and Letter Openers are now available - see "Unique Gifts Under $50" page.
About Historic Shepherd University
In July, 1871, the Jefferson County seat was moved from Shepherdstown to Charles Town, freeing the old courthouse/town hall for use as an educational institution. This imposing Greek Revival structure had been erected in 1859 by Rezin Davis Shepherd, who intended it to be a town hall. According to Historic Shepherdstown, the "clock in the tower, donated to the town by Shepherd in 1842 and originally housed in the old Episcopal Church, was moved to the town hall tower in 1860. Though neglected during some periods, the clock has been maintained in recent decades and still strikes the hour." In 1872 the building became the first building of what is today Shepherd University. According to the article of incorporation signed by a handful of Shepherdstown's city fathers including Henry Shepherd, Shepherd College was to provide instruction “in languages, arts and sciences.” The first 42 students enrolled in September, 1871, under the administration of first principal Professor Joseph McMurran, for whom the building was eventually named. In 1872 the West Virginia Legislature passed an act stating “That a branch of the State Normal School be and the same is hereby established at the building known as Shepherd College, in Shepherdstown, in the county of Jefferson.”
Shepherd began granting the bachelor of arts degree in 1930, when it became a four-year college for the training of teachers, and in 1943 and 1950 respectively, was authorized to implement liberal arts programs and the bachelor of science program. Shepherd now offers baccalaureate degrees in a wide range of fields, encompassing the liberal arts, business administration, teacher education, the social and natural sciences, and other career-oriented areas. In 2014 Shepherd's undergraduate enrollment was just under 3,900, and its graduate enrollment was 286. The Campus, which consists of East Campus and West Campus, includes several historic buildings and sites, and has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades, now including 43 major buildings, among them the $9 million Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center, the $18 million addition to the Scarborough Library, which also houses the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, the $10 million Erma Ora Byrd nursing classroom building, and my favorite, the "Little House" pictured below, built in the late 1920's as a project to encourage children to attend summer school.
Shepherd University's dynamic presence and unique blend of the old and the new are part of what makes the Town a great place to live and learn.
sources: Historic Shepherdstown and the Shepherd University Website.
undated photograph of the Little House on Princess Street.
A Landmark Tree At Shepherd Is Felled
The Chinese Elm that stood, until safety considerations mandated its removal in July, 2014, just across the street from the entrance of White Hall, was a sentimental favorite. The burls that covered its trunk and larger limbs were like faces on a totem pole, very "Entish" and loaded with personality. For years (even well before I became a wood turner) I admired the tree, often on the occasion of an outing at the Blue Moon, and wondered about the circumstances of its age and origin. Alas I have no pictures save for the fuzzy aerial shot of the campus below, where the tree is partially obscuring the front of White Hall, and the one I took of the stump that was left behind. I do know (thanks to biologist Dr. Carl Bell, of the University Faculty), that the tree was a Chinese Elm and that it was approximately 80 years old, and that I was lucky to be able to track its wood down once felled and harvest some for turning. That the turned burl pieces tend to be rather beautiful helps a little when I find myself passing by and missing the tree, with its gnarly faces and magical old soul.