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A Century of Excellence

Potomac State College was created in 1901 as "Keyser Preparatory Branch of the West Virginia University" by an act of the legislature at the urging of Mineral County Delegate Francis M. Reynolds, who was concerned about the quality of secondary education in the area. The bill provided an appropriation of $20,000 for buildings and empowered the governor to appoint a Board of Regents to govern the school.

Colonel Thomas B. Davis, a local businessman, donated more than 16 acres of land as a site for the new school. That location, formerly Fort Fuller, was a critical fortress in maintaining open roads leading to the South Branch and Shenandoah Valleys and in retaining Union control of the B&O Railroad during the Civil War; the railroad was a major supply route for the Union Army. Two notable figures each served as commander of Fort Fuller, also called Fort Kelly; Major Lew Wallace, who later wrote Ben Hur, and Major Benjamin Harrison, future President of the United States. The land on which the school is build came to be known as Fort Hill.

When it opened its doors for classes in October 1902 as West Virginia Preparatory School, the institution consisted of a mult-purpose administration building fronted by a four-sided clock tower. The building housed offices, classrooms, the library, and gymnasium. Lloyd F. Friend was appointed principal and teacher and was joined by four other teachers.

Potomac State continues today as a fully integrated division of West Virginia University enacted under a higher education reform measure, House Bill 2224, passed by the 2003 state legislative session. The integration became official on July 1, 2005.   

Some of the organizational and operational changes that took effect that year included: 

"The overwhelming reason Potomac State alumni cite for their love of the college is its smallness, smallness that nurtures a sense of belonging and of family, provides the opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with the faculty and staff, and facilitates formation of life-long friendships."

An Excerpt from "Potomac State College of West Virginia University -- The College History Series" 
by Dinah Courrier, Faculty Emeriti

To purchase a copy of the book, contact: Potomac State College Book Store 
                                                          101 fort Avenue 
                                                          Keyser, WV  26726 
                                                          Phone: 304-788-6908 
                                                          MPMurphy@mail.wvu.edu