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Randolph County Convention & Visitors Bureau
1302 N. Randolph Ave.
Elkins, WV 26241
(304) 636-2780
Toll Free:
(800) 422-3304
Email

Destination:
Randolph County,West Virginia

Historic Sites of Davis & Elkins College

photo of historic building at Davis and Elkins College in Randolph County, West Virginia

Halliehurst (circa 1890)

Lodging

Calendar of Events

Attractions & Recreation

Shops & Boutiques

Properties Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Historic Sites of Davis & Elkins College

The Arts and the Performing Arts

Introduction

Randolph County Convention & Visitors Bureau
1302 N. Randolph Ave.
Elkins, WV 26241
(304) 636-2780
Toll Free:
(800) 422-3304
Email

Perspective

Davis & Elkins College is destined to become one of central West Virginia's leading tourist attractions. The newly-restored Halliehurst mansion (circa 1890) is one of seven historic buildings positioned on the picturesque hillside campus and the centerpiece that is already drawing thousands of visitors annually to its Victorian doorstep.

Davis & Elkins College shares its heritage and proud sense of tradition with the City of Elkins. Both were benefactors of the same founders, Senators Stephen Benton Elkins and his father-in-law, Henry Gassaway Davis, who brought the first railroad to West Virginia's rugged Potomac highlands and converted the regions's vast coal and timber resources into their fortunes.

Elkins and Davis provided the financial backing which supported efforts by the Presbyterian Church to establish a college in West Virginia's central region. The result of this collaboration was Davis & Elkins College, which opened its doors in 1904 on a hill south of Elkins.

An enduring remnant of the Davis/Elkins family era is a stone wall originally built by Davis to mark the south and western edges of the Halliehurst and Graceland estates. The wall extended for more than two miles toward Maplewood Cemetery on Rt. 219. Portions still stand along the front of the campus on Sycamore Street and in the vicinity of Maplewood. Davis was inspired to build the wall in 1896 after visiting his friend George Vanderbilt's now-famous Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Gate House (Circa 1890)
At the entrance to the Davis & Elkins College campus stands the Gate House, a quaint structure that doubled as a gatekeeper/caretaker's residence during the years when the Elkins family spent their summers at Halliehurst. The house, unique with witch hat towers, resembles a dwelling straight from the pages of medieval history book.
Today, the tiny historic structure provides accommodations for visiting parents, alumni, scholars, and artists. "I'd never slept in a round bedroom before; it's absolutely enchanting," was the reaction from former New York Times film critic Nora Sayre, who became the first guest to occupy the newly-restored structure.

Halliehurst (Circa 1890) (pictured above)
Halliehurst, the Elkins family's summer home, was built by Stephen B. Elkins on a hill overlooking the newly founded town that bore his name. He named the palatial structure in honor of his wife, the former Hallie Davis, who in 1924 deeded the Halliehurst Estate to the College.
Constructed of native hardwoods and stone, Halliehurst's turreted design was patterned after a Rhineland castle that Mrs. Elkins admired. New York architect Charles T. Mott added such fashionable features as lapped siding, cut wooden shingles, hipped slate roofs, and sprawling porches. Interior features included rich oak paneling, beaded trim work, and massive fireplaces framed in marble with hand-carved wooden mantelpieces. It became the setting for elaborate social occasions, political caucuses, and business gatherings which attracted the elite throughout the nation.
Today, through the generosity of thousands of donors, the venerable mansion is completely restored to the style and spirit of its original decor, serving the College and Elkins community as an elegant site for special meetings and receptions. It also contains the office of President Dorothy I. MacConkey and other administrative offices.

Liberal Arts Hall ......Albert Hall (Circa 1924)
The cornerstone of Liberal Arts Hall, a four-story modified Georgian revival-style building of red brick, was placed during ceremonies on June 10, 1925.
A significant focus on West Virginia-related history is found in the Pearl Buck Conference Room on the first floor, where a portion of the Jim and Ola Comstock collection is displayed. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Science Hall (Albert Hall), connected to the Liberal Arts Hall by a series of graceful stone arches, houses faculty office, classrooms, and the Academic Resources Center. The three-story brick building reflects the same architectural style as Liberal Arts Hall.

The Boiler House Theatre (Circa 1924)
The Boiler House was erected, along with other key buildings, as the main source of heat for the College. A half century later, in 1974, the fires of the old boiler were banked for the last time when the building, still structurally sound, was transformed into the Boiler House Theatre. This unique facility, seating 175, has served the College and the Elkins community for nearly two decades.
Although the original character of the interior was retained, the boilers were removed to provide ample space for the presentation of a variety of productions. Theatre lighting, which allows stage designers to sculpture space, create mood, and capture the essence of a desired environment, was installed along with flexible seating arrangements allowing a variety of stage configurations. A new ceiling, lights, showers and a restroom were built in the area which had earlier been utilized for the coal bin.

Graceland (Circa 1892)
Situated adjacent to Halliehurst, Graceland is another notable example of Victorian architecture. Its interior is elaborately trimmed with rich West Virginia hardwoods. The mansion was the summer home of Henry Gassaway Davis, a United States Senator (1871-1883) and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States.
The mansion is constructed of native timbers and granite in the Norman French style of architecture. Windows were designed by a workman from Tiffany's; a tiled fireplace, surmounted by a wooden mantel supported by wooden Corinthian columns, is a dominant feature on the first floor; the main staircase harmonizes with the style of the fireplace.
Graceland, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is key to the College's long-range plan to establish itself as a significant tourist destination. Restoration will accommodate conversion of a mansion into a College Inn and Conference Center, offering upscale accommodations for visitors attending small conferences and conventions.

Ice House (Circa 1890's)
A cyclindrical stone structure, originally built by Stephen B. Elkins, the Ice House stored the Elkins family's ice supply when they were in residence at Halliehurst during the summer months. In 1969, the structure was refurbished and has since been used as a coffee house/pub.

Davis & Elkins College

For nearly a century, Davis & Elkins College has fulfilled the vision of its founders by providing high quality educational opportunities, special programs and services to individuals representing a variety of countries and cultures.

A private four-year, liberal arts and sciences institution, Davis & Elkins is one of 69 colleges nationwide that shares affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The 170-acre campus is located on a picturesque hillside overlooking the progressive central West Virginia community of Elkins, population nearly 10,000. The College is in the heart of West Virginia's ski country and is only a stone's throw from nearby Monongahela National Forest, where year-round, outdoor recreational opportunities abound.

While fun and recreation are important to a memorable college experience, academics, emphasizing the education of the whole person, are priorities at Davis & Elkins. The College offers 33 four-year majors and 14 two-year majors, enhanced by internship opportunities available to most majors.

In addition, there are numerous professional programs in business administration, nursing, travel and tourism, theatre, hotel-resort, and sports management, as well as master-level classes.

The intellectual, aesthetic, and geographic center of Davis & Elkins College is the four-level, 45,000 square-foot Booth Library, dedicated in October, 1992. Built across a wooded glen near the center of campus, the $7 million structure blends both historic and modern architectural styles that give the Davis & Elkins campus its distinctive flavor. This imposing state-of-the-art building features ingenious design and skillful architectural detailing in which space and function have been meticulously matched to maximize efficiency and ease of use.

As the year 2004, the 100th year of its founding, approaches, Davis & Elkins has taken its place as a leader in higher education in West Virginia. Small classes and a caring, highly skilled faculty, 69 percent of whom hold a Ph.D. or equivalent professional degree, lend a rare personal quality to Davis & Elkins. Enrollment is maintained at less that 1,000.

A low 14:1 student/faculty ratio enables members of the faculty to be readily available for friendly one-on-one consultations to meet the individual needs of each student.

Lodging .... Calendar of Events ..... Attractions & Recreation ..... Shop & Boutiques
Properties Listed on the National Register of Historic Places ..... Historic Sites of Davis & Elkins College
The Arts and the Performing Arts ..... Introduction

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