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Broaddus Institute/College

Clarksburg and Philippi, West Virginia



Until 1909, The Clarksburg Daily Telegram gave regular coverage to Broaddus Institute.  Broaddus College events were covered by the Fairmont West Virginian and the Wheeling RegisterThe History of Education in West Virginia (1907) has a good history of Broaddus Institute to that point.  The ad (right) came from the Baptist Yearbook.





Early on Broaddus became known for music and the arts.  In 1895 the Wheeling Register reported on a music and art reception featuring both vocal and instrumental music.   Each school year saw a series of concerts, recitals, and other musical performances.  The school had two literary societies—Lyceum and Lexicomen—that provided public programs involving essays, readings, orations, and debates.  A team from Broaddus participated in the state oratorical contest against other private schools.  In 1908 students began publishing the Record, a weekly newspaper.


As a Baptist school, Broaddus had a strong Christian element.  The 1909 ad describes it as a “Christian school home.”  Bible courses were added to the curriculum in 1896.  Students had chapters of both the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A.  The Day of Prayer was an annual event. In 1922 The Annual of the Northern Baptist Convention reported an enrollment of 200 “majority Christians,” with nine ministerial students and seven missionary students.


As early as 1915 Broaddus began efforts to add college classes.  These efforts were rewarded in 1917 when two years of college-level work were added and the name was change to Broaddus College and Academy.  By 1926 Broaddus College offered its first four-year degrees.


After the Great Depression began, the Baptist Conference, which sponsoring two higher education institutions, merged Alderson Junior College with Broaddus College. The merger formed what today is Alderson-Broaddus University, with an enrollment of more than one thousand students.


Winchester Female Institute was founded in 1871 by Reverend Edward J. Willis, a Baptist minister.  In 1875 the name was changed to Broaddus Female College, named for Reverend William F. Broaddus.  Willis moved the school to Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1876. Becoming co-educational in 1888, it took the name Broaddus Scientific and Classical Institute in 1893.  In 1909, the school moved again to Philippi.  An ad in the 1909-10 West Virginia School Journal describes Broaddus  as a preparatory school with Classical, Scientific, Normal, Music, Elocution, and Physical Culture programs.  By 1913 it had an enrollment of 237 students, taught by a faculty of 12.

Bricks and Mortar

Main Hall was built on a plateau overlooking the town of Philippi.  This had been the site of the Union cannon placement for the first land battle of the Civil War.  The four-story structure measured 215 feet by 55 feet with wings measuring 80 feet by 40 feet.   It was built of locally-fired brick over locally-quarried stone.  Citizens of Philippi raised $84,000 for its construction.   Built in 1909, it contained classrooms, administration offices, and housing for faculty and female students.  This building was destroyed by fire in 1978


 A 1930’s photo shows a three-building campus.  Whitescarver Hall, the men’s dormitory, was added in 1912 and a gymnasium in 1916.  The only survivor among the three buildings, Whitescarver was placed on the National Register in 1980.



A 1908 postcard image of Main Hall.




            Team name: Battlers (adopted before the merger)


The first sports reference for Broaddus Institute was to an intramural girls’ “basket ball” game played in 1904.  The first football game was played a year later against Fairmont Normal School.  A. C. "Prex" Merrill (right) coached the 1910 team to a 1-3record. Sketchy newspaper accounts show that Broaddus Institute had football, basketball, baseball, and track and field teams.  Some opponents were local colleges, and some were high school members of the Monongahela Valley Interscholastic league.


The 1921 schedule for Broaddus College shows games with Marietta (OH), Fairmont Normal, Glenville Normal, Keyser Prep (now Potomac State), Salem, Davis and Elkin College, UVW Freshmen and the Wesleyan College Reserves.  In 1924 Broaddus College was one of the eight founding members of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  College Football Data Warehouse shows games between 1905 and 1930.  The 1929 team compiled a 6-4 record.

Prex Merrill_edited.jpg

Image from Wikimedia.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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