Lost Huntington: Old Main Annex
Editor’s note: This is the 271st in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON — With the end of World War II in 1945, the nation’s college campuses were swamped by returning veterans using their education benefits under the federal GI Bill. Marshall College was no exception.
The enrollment boom left Marshall woefully short of classrooms.
Responding to a request from Marshall, Uncle Sam stepped in to help. A former U.S. Navy barracks in Norfolk, Va., was no longer needed, so it was dismantled, shipped to Huntington and reassembled next to Old Main. When it was erected in 1947, the former barracks - officially known as Old Main Annex - was described as a “temporary” structure. In fact, it would be used for a variety of classes for the next 20 years, until the construction of Smith Hall in 1967.
The surge in post-war enrollment also created a tremendous housing shortage, made even more critical by the fact that many of the returning vets were married, meaning they had to find housing not just for themselves but also for their families. As a result, numerous campus area garages and other structures were turned into makeshift rental apartments. But that still left hundreds of vets without housing.
Again, Marshall appealed to the federal government for help. The Federal Housing Administration responded by sending war surplus pre-fabricated military housing that was erected on Donald Court in the city’s Enslow Park neighborhood. The federal government also sent Marshall house trailers for use as student housing. Set up on the intramural field adjacent to the Lab School at the eastern end of the campus, the trailer complex was dubbed Green Village. The name was a great deal prettier than the ugly-looking trailers.
Members of the Marshall faculty found the returning veterans to be far more mature and studious than pre-war Marshall students. Little interested in the frills of campus life, they were intent on earning their degrees as quickly as possible and getting on with their lives. Many graduated in three years, more than justifying the government’s investment in their education.