Old Main, Bethany College

Bethany College campus, Bethany, West Virginia


Bethany College, "Old Main" Building

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress


Street View 


"Old Main" at Bethany College is an outstanding example of a single building designed to accommodate the entire range of college functions and to stand as an imposing piece of architecture on its hilltop site - when seen from the road below or from one of the other hills around this small West Virginia town. "Old Main" is noteworthy among the few surviving American college buildings from the decades before the Civil War as one of the largest and the most accomplished of those employing a Gothic style. Its construction is predominantly of plain red brick, with only a limited amount of explicitly Gothic detailing in the stonework of the doorways, windows, finials, and capstones. The design for "Old Main" shows the adaptation of the Gothic style from a type of construction relying on elaborately carved and fitted stone masonry to one relying on the massing of building blocks with relatively austere surfaces of brick - the material most readily available to this Ohio Valley college, confidently rebuilding in 1858. For similar successful adaptations of Gothic design to brick construction, one must otherwise look to the pre-Civil War churches of the mid-Atlantic states and the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS WV-118)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 25, 1970
Reference number
Architectural styles
Victorian: Gothic; Other architectural type; Collegiate Gothic
Areas of significance
Education; Architecture
Levels of significance
National; State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1925-1949
Significant years
1858; 1862; 1871

Update Log 

  • March 26, 2021: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger
  • December 16, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller