As part of Fairmont State University’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, the campus and Fairmont community are invited to help commemorate an historic day for the oldest building on the main campus, Hardway Hall, originally known as the Administration Building.
The 100th Birthday Celebration for Hardway Hall will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, outside on the front steps of the building. In case of inclement weather, the festivities will move inside to the second floor hallway. The event will include brief remarks from FSU President Maria Rose and Master of Architecture student Shae Strait. As a salute to Hardway Hall’s roots in theatre, the cast from the upcoming musical “The Boy Friend” will perform a song. Noteworthy Sweets of Fairmont has designed a special cake that looks like the building. All guests are invited to enjoy cake and coffee and to pose for a large group photo in front of Hardway Hall.
“Hardway Hall still occupies its prominent site atop a hill and in the hearts and minds of alumni a century later. Whether we appreciate Hardway Hall as a beautiful piece of neo-classical architecture or as a building that houses the historic and critical functions of our institution, we can all gaze upon this structure as a testament to Fairmont State University itself. Hardway Hall has become more than a building: it is now both a symbol of our tradition, and a worthy witness to our aspirations in the next century to come,” Strait said.
Hardway Hall traces its origins to October 11, 1915, when its cornerstone was placed. Designed by Philadelphia’s influential Paul Armon Davis, III, the building opened in January 1917. The building was the first constructed on the Locust Avenue campus, formerly the Kennedy family dairy farm. The west wing was added in 1923. The building was first referred to as the Administration Building but was renamed in 1989 for Wendell G. Hardway, who was President of Fairmont State College from 1973-1988. Hardway Hall was included on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior on March 28, 1994.
The building has historic roots in theatre as the site of the creation of Alpha Psi Omega, Delta Psi Omega and the International Thespian Society. Plays were presented as a part of Fairmont State campus life as early as 1921. A faculty director was hired in 1923, and that year the Masquers organization was formed. The organization was charged with presenting a season of plays for the campus and the community. In 1925, Alpha Psi Omega was formed under the direction of Dr. Paul Opp. This national organization now includes members from more than 600 colleges and universities.
In celebration of FSU’s Sesquicentennial, the Theatre Program is presenting a season of plays taken from the Masquers history. The first show of the 2015-2016 season is “The Boy Friend,” first produced at Fairmont State in 1959 and directed by JoAnn Lough. Dr. Susan Cato-Chapman, Temporary Assistant Professor of Theatre, will direct the show this year.
“The Boy Friend,” written by Sandy Wilson, opened in London in 1954 and then on Broadway in 1955. The show was Julie Andrews’s introduction to the American stage. The show is about Polly Browne (played in the current production by Shannon Yost) who is desperate for a boyfriend. It is set in a boarding school run by Madam Dubonnett (Dani DeVito) in the south of France. A case of mistaken identity is central to this fast-paced story that features the musical numbers “Won’t You Charleston with Me” and “The Riviera.”
“The Boy Friend” will be performed in the Wallman Hall Theatre on Oct. 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and on Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. On closing night, Saturday, Oct. 24, the Theatre Program will honor Jo Ann Lough with a reception in the Wallman Hall Tower Room at 6 p.m. The reception is open to the public. Tickets for “The Boy Friend” can be purchased by calling the box office at (304) 367-4240.