When the Methodist Episcopal Church opened the West Virginia Conference Seminary in 1890, the school consisted of a single building in the middle of a farm field, a faculty of five, and a vision of educational excellence in West Virginia. With high ideals and limited resources, the school grew steadily through its earliest years, becoming a college in 1905 and overcoming a number of challenges that almost closed the fledgling institution, including a building fire, the Great Depression, and two world wars. A period of major building and growth from the 1950s to the mid- 1970s set the college on an ambitious trajectory and established much of campus as it exists today. National economic turmoil through the 1980s and the integration of new technologies in the 1990s have brought the college to its current renaissance of growth and innovative development.
Through Wesleyan’s first 125 years, the student body has grown dramatically, new academic and co-curricular programs have been added, and the forty-three-acre campus has seen itself transformed into one of the most beautiful in the region. Yet the heart of West Virginia Wesleyan College remains its founders’ vision of providing a quality education vitally rooted in the liberal arts. Thousands of students have been positively challenged and nurtured by an environment at Wesleyan that values and emphasizes academic rigor, diversity, responsible self-discovery, lifelong learning, and meaningful service.
Our Home Among the Hills not only revisits Wesleyan’s early years as told through two previous published histories by Thomas Haught (Sem. 1894; Hon. 1916) in 1940 and Kenneth Plummer in 1965, but expands the story to include present developments and new historical perspectives. In addition, the text draws upon a rich body of archival images to enrich the narrative and connect readers with times, places, and people they may never have known or experienced. The celebration of the college’s 125th anniversary in 2014–2015 is an opportunity to reflect upon the common elements that have defined the Wesleyan experience and connected faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, trustees, and community members across generations.