Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bethany College Infirmary

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Institution Name: Bethany College (WV)
Original/Historic Place Name: William Pendleton Cowans Livery Stables (with connecting office and residence)
Location on Campus: Main St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
ca. 1866 or 1867original construction Curtis, Jacob E.
1945remodeled as an infirmary Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: local sandstone
Walls: brick
Roof: standing-seam tin (original); three-tab asphalt shingle (current)
1867-1910private residence (and livery stable)
1910-1914other (telephone office)
1937-1945private residence

Significance: architecture, education, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterBethany College Infirmary (1981)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

This Bethany College Infirmary Building is historically significant to the Town of Bethany, as it is among the earliest buildings constructed in the town. Jacob E. Curtis built several homes in Bethany during the 1850s-1870s, many of which were built using a similar architectural form. In addition, the house was the home of William Pendleton Cowans, who operated the first livery stable in town on the lot adjacent to the house. A connecting office joined the residence and the livery stable.

The building is meaningful to Bethany College as being the first building set aside for exclusive use as an infirmary for the student body. The first evidence of a small infirmary for the students dates from 1930, after the remodeling and expansion of Phillips Hall. However, it was not until the spring of 1937 that an inclusive health program was developed, and the Bethany College Board of Trustees made the decision for the first time in the history of the college to hire a full-time nurse and a college physician. In May of 1937, they recommended that the college should provide for an isolated infirmary adequate to take care of the needs of both men and women. The plan was that it should house a college physician and staff. In the fall of 1937, Samuel Sprigg Jacob became the first college physician, and the college made plans to remodel the Cowans property on Lot #66 for use as the doctor's home and private office. In February 1945, the college announced that the Cowans house had been remodeled as a Health Center. It contained a doctor's office, treatment room, medicine room, and wards for men and women. In November 1945, the facility became known as the Infirmary and continued in this capacity until the fall of 2001.

The building, in use as an infirmary from 1945 through fall of 2001, has been vacant since the fall of 2001, at which time a new Health and Wellness Center opened in the remodeled John J. Knight Natatorium. The college has not yet made a decision as to the future use of the building.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Bethany College [WV] Infirmary. Historic Property Inventory form. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia Antiquities Commission, 1981.

Browne, Henry J. Bethany Historic District [including Bethany College (WV)]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1982.

Carney, Brent. Bethany College. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Other: Archives and Special Collections, Bethany College (WV)

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